Working Toward Whiteness: How America's Immigrants Became White : the Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs
, 2005 - History
- 339 pages
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-classicThe Wages of Whiteness, a study of racism in the development of a white working class in nineteenth-century America. InWorking 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 Whitenessexplores 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.