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The Invention of the White Race Series

Theodore W. Allen
The Invention of the White Race by Theodore W. Allen
The Invention of the White Race, Volume 2 by Theodore W. Allen

The Invention of the White Race Series : Titles in Order

Book 2
On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, Martin Luther King outlined a dream of an America where people would not be judged by the color of their skin. That dream has yet to be realized, but some three centuries ago it was a reality. Back then, neither social practice nor law recognized any special privileges in connection with being white. But by the early decades of the eighteenth century, that had all changed. Racial oppression became the norm in the plantation colonies, and African Americans suffered under its yoke for more than two hundred years.

In Volume II of The Invention of the White Race, Theodore Allen explores the transformation that turned African bond-laborers into slaves and segregated them from their fellow proletarians of European origin. In response to labor unrest, where solidarities were not determined by skin color, the plantation bourgeoisie sought to construct a buffer of poor whites, whose new racial identity would protect them from the enslavement visited upon African Americans. This was the invention of the white race, an act of cruel ingenuity that haunts America to this day.Allen’s acclaimed study has become indispensable in debates on the origins of racial oppression in America. In this updated edition, scholar Jeffrey B. Perry provides a new introduction, a select bibliography and a study guide.
Book 1
When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no ‘white’ people there; nor, according to colonial records, would there be for another sixty years. Historical debate about the origin of racial slavery has focused on the status of the Negro in seventeenth-century Virginia and Maryland. However, as Theodore W. Allen argues in this magisterial work, what needs to be studied is the transformation of English, Scottish, Irish and other European colonists from their various statuses as servants, tenants, planters or merchants into a single new all-inclusive status: that of whites. This is the key to the paradox of American history, of a democracy resting on race assumptions.

Volume One of this two-volume work attempts to escape the ‘white blind spot’ which has distorted consecutive studies of the issue. It does so by looking in the mirror of Irish history for a definition of racial oppression and for an explanation of that phenomenon in terms of social control, free from the absurdities of classification by skin color. Compelling analogies are presented between the history of Anglo-Irish and British rule in Ireland and American White Supremacist oppression of Indians and African-Americans. But the relativity of race is shown in the sea change it entailed, whereby emigrating Irish haters of racial oppression were transformed into White Americans who defended it. The reasons for the differing outcomes of Catholic Emancipation and Negro Emancipation are considered and occasion is made to demonstrate Allen’s distinction between racial and national oppression.

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