Working Toward Whiteness by David R. Roediger
How America's Immigrants Become White. The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs

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At the vanguard of the study of race and labor in American history, David Roediger is one of the most highly respected scholars in his field. He is also the author of the now-classic The Wages of Whiteness, a study of racism in the development of a white working class in nineteenth-century America. In Working Toward Whiteness, he continues that history into the twentieth century, recounting how American ethnic groups that are considered white today, such as Jewish-, Italian-, and Polish-Americans, once occupied a confused racial status in their new country.While some historians have claimed that these immigrants were “white on arrival,” Roediger paints a very different picture, showing that it wasn’t until the 1920s (ironically, just when immigration laws became much more restrictive), that these ethnic groups definitively became part of white America, primarily thanks to the nascent labor movement and a rise in home-buying.From ethnic slurs to racially restrictive covenants —the real estate agreements that ensured all-white neighborhoods—Working Toward Whiteness explores the murky realities of race in twentieth-century America. In this masterful history, which is sure to be a key text in its field, David Roediger charts the strange transformation of these new immigrants into the “white ethnics” of America today.

About David R. Roediger

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David R. Roediger teaches on the history of race and class in the United States at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is the Babcock Chair of History and of African American Studies. He lives in Champaign, Illinois.
Published May 31, 2005 by Basic Books. 352 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Home ownership is an indicator of the extent to which immigrant groups had been accepted into mainstream, white American society, he acknowledges, but immigrants “did not so much ‘buy into’ the American Dream of home ownership as help create it.” They made significant sacrifices to own homes, and...

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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.

May 30 2005 | Read Full Review of Working Toward Whiteness: How...

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