Race And Politics Research Hits Home

Name: Kerry Haynie
Position: Associate professor of political science and African and African American Studies; Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences

Years at Duke: 10

What I do at Duke: Most of the educating I do happens outside the classroom. I advise and co-coordinate a fellowship program sponsored by the Mellon Foundation. The purpose of the fellowship program is to support young minority students who have an interest in becoming university research and teaching faculty like myself. And that's one of the most rewarding things I do. (Haynie is a 2014 recipient of the Samuel Dubois Cook Society Award, which celebrates the contributions of African-American students, faculty and staff at the university.)

To start a conversation with me, ask me about: Food. You learn a lot about people by food. I like to cook. I've worked in restaurants quite a bit. I paid part of my undergraduate college working as a cook in an Italian restaurant in Carrboro.

If I had $5 million, I would: just get some time and space to think and recharge and tackle this big project on the South. (Haynie and his Duke colleagues are revisiting and updating some of the classic studies of the American South, which he says are now about 60 years old or older.)

My first job: I worked in an ice cream and burger joint, a local joint called "Hum-Dinger." I was a shift manager. It was a local burger joint in Landis, North Carolina.

The best advice I ever received: "Always try to think about and anticipate the consequences of things you think you want to do." After my mother and father helped me move into my freshman dorm room at UNC, my father, who didn't give much direct advice, said this as he was leaving.

What I love about Duke: It's the best of all worlds in higher education. Duke has found a way to have both an excellent undergraduate college and a world-class research institution all wrapped up into one. It is a place where all faculty at Duke teach, no matter who you are. Nobel Prize winner or not, if you're in the arts and sciences, you teach undergraduates.

Something most people don't know about me: I think I'm a political scientist because I grew up watching my grandmother and her sisters practice politics in church affairs and community affairs. They were very skilled and effective. If they had been born in a different era or under different circumstances, they might have been a CEO of a company or managed something or elected to some public office. Their opportunities and possibilities were severely limited because of their race and their gender and because they lived in a racist society. I grew up watching them navigate and maneuver in these difficult circumstances and it made an impression.

A book I like: Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" had a profound effect on me when I was a high school student. Parts of it resonated with me as a young, teenage black male in the South.

A favorite movie: "To Kill a Mockingbird" with Gregory Peck. It's a fascinating movie. Watching my grandmother and her sisters operate may be the reason I'm a political scientist. "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Invisible Man" may explain why I study the things that I study.