by Kevin K. Gaines

About Kevin K. Gaines

Kevin K. Gaines is Robert Hayden Collegiate Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of American Africans in Ghana: Black Expatriates and the Civil Rights Era.


The keyword “African” has been and remains a touchstone for African-descended peoples’ struggle for identity and inclusion, encompassing extremes of racial denigration and vindication in a nation founded on the enslavement of Africans. Both the African presence throughout the Americas and its significance for constructions of national culture in the United States have remained fraught with racialized and exclusionary power relations. In a nation that has traditionally imagined its culture and legislated its polity as “white,” “African” has often provided for African Americans a default basis for identity in direct proportion to their exclusion from national citizenship.