White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race

Front Cover
NYU Press, 2006 - Law - 263 pages
1 Review
"Whiteness pays. As White by Law shows, immigrants recognized the value of whiteness and sometimes petitioned the courts to be recognized as white. Haney Lspez argues for the centrality of law in constructing race."--Voice Literary Supplement"White by Law's thoughtful analysis of the prerequisite cases offers support for the fundamental critical race theory tenet that race is a social construct reinforced by law. Haney Lspez has blazed a trail for those exploring the legal and social constructions of race in the United States."--Berkeley Women's Law JournalLily white. White knights. The white dove of peace. White lie, white list, white magic. Our language and our culture are suffused, often subconsciously, with positive images of whiteness. Whiteness is so inextricably linked with the status quo that few whites, when asked, even identify themselves as such. And yet when asked what they would have to be paid to live as a black person, whites give figures running into the millions of dollars per year, suggesting just how valuable whiteness is in American society.Exploring the social, and specifically legal origins, of white racial identity, Ian F. Haney Lopez here examines cases in America's past that have been instrumental in forming contemporary conceptions of race, law, and whiteness. In 1790, Congress limited naturalization to white persons. This racial prerequisite for citizenship remained in force for over a century and a half, enduring until 1952. In a series of important cases, including two heard by the United States Supreme Court, judges around the country decided and defined who was white enough to become American.White by Law traces the reasoning employed by the courts intheir efforts to justify the whiteness of some and the non- whiteness of others. Did light skin make a

What people are saying - Write a review

White by law: the legal construction of race

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

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

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

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

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

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...

References to this book

All Book Search results »

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.

Bibliographic information