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Blurring the Color Line: The New Chance for a More Integrated America (The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures) Hardcover – October 15, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0674035133 ISBN-10: 0674035135 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1 edition (October 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674035135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674035133
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #420,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to Alba (coauthor of Remaking the American Mainstream), present-day America has arrived at a rare moment in its history, when disadvantaged minorities could alter the ethnoracial boundaries of American society through increasing diversity at its middle and upper levels. He argues that the U.S. reached similar moments as southern and eastern European, Irish and Jewish immigrants were gradually amalgamated into the mainstream and considered white. His arguments on why conditions could be ripe for a similar shift in the early 21st century are logical and well-supported. One unfortunate blind spot, however, is Alba's insistence on lumping together disadvantaged Hispanic and black minorities and failing to acknowledge that the African-American presence in the U.S. is wholly unique—for all the labor statistics he presents, he neglects to weigh the consequences of a 400-year legacy of slavery and segregation. Alba's conclusion is strongly stated and well reasoned, and but he hides in an ivory tower, neglecting to satisfyingly examine the hurdles to the education and affirmative-action reforms he so vigorously recommends. (Sept.)
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Blurring the Color Line offers a primer on how to make assimilation happen in the 21st century. (Douglas S. Massey, Princeton University, editor of New Faces in New Places: The New Geography of American Immigration)

Blurring the Color Line has the potential to be an instant classic. It demonstrates through a rigorous analysis of demographic, economic, and social data that the successful integration of American minority groups is very possible in the coming decades. (Mary C. Waters, Harvard University, co-author of Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age(Harvard))

When it comes to understanding racial change and integration in the United States, Richard Alba is a groundbreaker...Alba's detailed narrative shows how public education can make the difference between significant, rapid social change with respect to race, and slow, more piecemeal blurring. One might read this book as another argument for why public education needs to be ramped up, especially in urban areas, but the implications, I believe, go further...Blurring the Color Line presents an impressive amount of evidence to support Alba's sophisticated arguments, and he presents all sides of the complex arguments of the book. Impressive in its lucidity, in addition to quantitative analysis the book is rich with details about complex sociological research related to the topics of the book...A theory as overarching as Alba's is impressive in its detail, its reach, and its ability to explain the past and hypothesize about the future. (Natasha Kumar Warikoo Teachers College Record 2010-07-06)

Blurring the Color Line is a groundbreaking, original, and important work which greatly advances and broadens the debate on the future makeup of American society. In doing so, it also marshals a great deal of demographic and statistical evidence to back up the incisive arguments made by the author...Blurring the Color Line is a brilliant and lucid analysis with very important implications that need to be carefully thought through. As such, it is mandatory reading for all those interested in policy analysis, and especially for leaders responsible for shaping and implementing it. (William Helmreich Society 2010-05-26)

This is a gutsy book, one that few scholars would have dared to write and one that even fewer are sufficiently knowledgeable to undertake. Although critics can nitpick, Blurring the Color Line is essential reading for scholars, students, activists, and pundits in the field of race and ethnicity, and anyone interested in the promise of social science to inform the policy agenda. (Charles Hirschman Population and Development Review 2010-03-01)

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Enrique Cardova on December 2, 2013
Format: Paperback

Alba holds that there are three ways white ethnics were assimilated into the mainstream: a) the vast expansion of educational opportunity brought on by the GI Bill, (b) suburbanization that promoted intra-white integration and (c) a cultural shift where the excluded white classes have the opportunity to assimilate in massive number- this being brought about by WW2.

With these 3 conditions the dominant northern European whites granted assimilation to lesser whites, satisfied that said others would not threaten their power. Per one review : "Alba notes that the key to upward movement of these white ethnics toward the top and the disappearance of the three-tier social hierarchy lay in the fact that these groups were legally white. This legal reality allowed them to take advantage of federal government policies in higher education, labor, and housing, enabling them to move up and be accepted by the mainstream."

So far so good, but Alba goes on to claim that the retirement of baby boomers opens up the same opportunities for blacks and browns to be assimilated, and that this can be done by a new commitment of public resources to this end. In other words the retirement of the baby boomers facilitates a vast new spigot of govt spending to help the darker brethren, just as it did the white ethnics before them. Supporting this is the diversification of the workforce with more ethnicities that is occurring as the baby boomers retire. There are a number of weaknesses to Alba's argument:

1) The retirement of baby boomers does not necessarily mean vast new opportunities opening up- for a new set of post baby-boom whites are taking their places with plenty of incentives to rig and game the system to their own profit and prestige.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Aref on August 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
Great Book!
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