Skip to Main Content (Press Enter)

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
A comprehensive, tour-de-force analysis of the birth of slavery, racism, and white supremacy in the American South—and how it shaped our modern world.

“A must-read for all social justice activists, teachers, and scholars.”
—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

Long heralded as a classic study of the origin of white privilege from the activist who first coined the term, Theodore W. Allen’s work remains an indispensable resource for making sense of our conflicted present, a reference point for everyone from Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Nell Irvin Painter to Reni-Eddo Lodge and Aníbal Quijano.

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. In this seminal work, available for the first time here in a single volume, Allen tells how America’s ruling classes created the category of the “white race” as a means of social control. Since that early invention, white privileges have enforced the myth of racial superiority, a fact central to maintaining rulingclass domination over ordinary working people of all colors throughout the history of the Atlantic world.

Spanning centuries and nations, Allen’s analysis takes us from the plantations of Northern Ireland and the mines of Peru to the sugar fields of Brazil and colonies of Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. His account records lives of hardscrabble immigrant survival, Faustian bargains with white supremacy, the tragedy of human bondage, and the stubborn, unbreakable resistance to the global color line.

Find other titles in

Back to Top