White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race

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NYU Press, 2006 - Law - 263 pages
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White by Law was published in 1996 to immense critical acclaim, and established Ian Haney López as one of the most exciting and talented young minds in the legal academy. The first book to fully explore the social and specifically legal construction of race, White by Law inspired a generation of critical race theorists and others interested in the intersection of race and law in American society. Today, it is used and cited widely by not only legal scholars but many others interested in race, ethnicity, culture, politics, gender, and similar socially fabricated facets of American society.

In the first edition of White by Law, Haney López traced the reasoning employed by the courts in their efforts to justify the whiteness of some and the non-whiteness of others, and revealed the criteria that were used, often arbitrarily, to determine whiteness, and thus citizenship: skin color, facial features, national origin, language, culture, ancestry, scientific opinion, and, most importantly, popular opinion.

Ten years later, Haney López revisits the legal construction of race, and argues that current race law has spawned a troubling racial ideology that perpetuates inequality under a new guise: colorblind white dominance. In a new, original essay written specifically for the 10th anniversary edition, he explores this racial paradigm and explains how it contributes to a system of white racial privilege socially and legally defended by restrictive definitions of what counts as race and as racism, and what doesn't, in the eyes of the law. The book also includes a new preface, in which Haney Lopez considers how his own personal experiences with white racial privilege helped engender White by Law.


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White by law: the legal construction of race

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Words carry social connotations. Some, like "lily white," have positive connotations. With this sense of "whiteness" as his thesis, Lopez (law, Univ. of Wisconsin) writes of the law's recognition of a ... Read full review

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Excellent book.


Racial Restrictions in the
The Prerequisite Cases
Ozawa and Thind
The Legal Construction of Race
White RaceConsciousness
The Value to Whites of Whiteness
Colorblind White Dominance
Appendix A
Appendix B
Table of Legal Authorities

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Page 30 - That all persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States...
Page 14 - I think God made all people good, but if we had to take a million immigrants in — say Zulus next year or Englishmen — and put them in Virginia...
Page 22 - Africanism is the vehicle by which the American self knows itself as not enslaved, but free: not repulsive, but desirable: not helpless, but licensed and powerful: not history,less, but historical: not damned, but innocent: not a blind accident of evolution, but a progressive fulfillment of destiny...

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About the author (2006)

Ian Haney Lopez is Professor of Law at Boalt Hall and author of White by Law (NYU Press) and Racism on Trial.

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