Too much recent scholarship "simply ignores the long, circuitous process by which 'new immigrants' became 'white ethnics,' " declares Roediger (The Wages of Whiteness), finding that the process in the early 20th century was slower and messier. Well-detailed examples include Greeks and Italians victimized by white mobs at the turn of the century (with the Chicago papers providing the parenthetical identification "Italian" in crime stories just as they did "Negro"). Jobs, Roediger finds, were often divided on lines that separated whites from European immigrants, but unions opened to European immigrants more readily than to blacks, Mexican-Americans and Asian-Americans. Most significantly, he sees the oppression faced by Europeans as qualitatively different than that faced by other groups and goes into painful detail. Roediger hearkens back to the 1924 immigration restrictions, showing how they drove the "great migration" of African-Americans northward, thus rendering immigrants less "foreign" to some entrenched whites. Reinforcing that were the immigrant drive for home ownership, backed by New Deal–era restrictive racial covenants and laws against interracial marriage. While slow going, Roediger's book tills some major historical ground. (June)
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When immigrants from southern and eastern Europe arrived in America, their status was somewhere below that of "native" white Americans but above that of blacks and other nonwhites. In the period 1890 to 1945, social upheavals in labor, housing, and politics shifted and allowed these immigrants to take on the mantle of whiteness. Roediger explores the social forces that elevated the social status of these immigrants and contributed to deepening racial divisions. This ethnic focus is really deemed by Roediger as part of race history in the U.S., how people were placed within an evolving intellectual and social structure. Roediger focuses on the early twentieth century, when these new immigrants lived an in-between existence as their white consciousness took form. Segregated housing practices, and labor unions favoring the immigrants over blacks, helped to solidify the whiteness status. U.S. policy, notably the New Deal, also helped to confirm the inclusion of people who had formerly suffered the low social status of unassimilated immigrants. Vernon Ford
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Stunning!! It is impossible to understand race in America without the history detailed in this book.Published 5 months ago by Anthony B. Bradley
Roediger does a great job refrenceing his case in other historians. This is VERY importnat when discussing challenging topics like this.Published on August 28, 2006 by Brian Stanley