Post-Post Racial Discussions in Public Administration Administrative Theory & Praxis

Administrative Theory & Praxis

Virtual Special Issue Editor: Brandi Blessett, PhD.

The election of Barack Obama in 2008 immediately conjured sentiments that the United States was finally post-racial. However, throughout his presidency, it became clear that race and racism were alive and well. The most recent presidential election resulted in an uptick of racial animus, which is evidenced through increased violence against people and communities of color, use of hostile language, and policy decision designed to further marginalize nonwhite populations. As an applied field, public administration can be a mediator to the tensions that exist in today’s society.

The articles selected for this Virtual Special Issue offer context to the role of public administrators as being complicit in facilitating injustice against people and communities of color. Research that acknowledges the role of race and racism, discrimination and injustice, and administrative responsibility and discretion must evolve to uncover and amplify the nuances of the intersectional experiences of diverse people. Public administrators must be cognizant of personal and professional bias and work toward developing cultural competence. Discussions should contextualize the evolution of public administration and its explicit disregard for racial equity. Administrative discretion, the flexible exercising of judgment, has been justified for the disruption of communities and dispossession of residents deemed as unworthy and undeserving. Interrogating such ideas are important if progress is ever to be made. From the perspectives of scholarship and practice, public administration must do a better job of learning from the past in order to not repeat the same mistakes.

The structure of institutional racism and the system of white supremacy can eventually be overcome through effective exposure to issues of race and racism and adequate preparation to effectively engage with diverse constituents. To be ignorant is to be complicit. Public administration must work to advance the interests of all constituents, rather than simply do nothing and sustain the status quo.