instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

Theodore W. Allen’s "The Invention of the White Race" (Verso Books) With References to Hubert Harrison Presentation by Jeffrey B. Perry May 4, 1917 Paul Robeson Freedom School Lecture Series, Brooklyn

This Thursday, May 4, 2017, at 6:00 PM
Jeffrey B. Perry will offer a slide presentation/talk on "Theodore W. Allen’s "'The Invention of the White Race’ and the Centrality of Struggle Against White Supremacy" (with some references to the life and work of Hubert Harrison) and Dr. Jahi Issa will offer a presentation on “American Slavery." Paul Robeson Freedom School Lecture Series at The Brooklyn Christian Center, 1061 Atlantic Ave (between Classon and Franklin Avenues), Brooklyn, NY. The event is FREE. For additional information call 347-618-8675.
For information on “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" (including comments from scholars and activists and Table of Contents) CLICK HERE

 Read More 
Be the first to comment

Theodore W. Allen on Two Main Ideological Props of White Supremacy Among Euro-American Workers




Theodore W. Allen (1919-2005) pioneered his “white skin privilege” analysis in 1965, co-authored "White Blindspot" in 1967 and authored the accompanying “Can White Workers/Radicals Be Radicalized?’” in 1969, wrote the ground-breaking Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race in 1974/1975, wrote the seminal two-volume The Invention of the White Race in 1994 and 1997 (since reprinted in new expanded form in 2012 by Verso Books) , and authored a number of other extremely important published and unpublished pieces.

Allen's The Invention of the White Race, with its focus on racial oppression and social control, is one of the twentieth-century's major contributions to historical understanding. This two-volume classic (Vol. 1: Racial Oppression and Social Control and Vol. 2: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America) details how the "white race" was invented as a ruling-class social control formation and a system of racial oppression was imposed in response to labor solidarity in the wake of Bacon's Rebellion (1676-77), how the "white race" was created and maintained through "white race" privileges conferred on laboring class European-Americans relative to African-Americans, how these privileges were not in the interest of African-Americans or laboring class European-Americans, and how the "white race" has been the principal historic guarantor of ruling-class domination in America.

This brief video discusses how Allen’s work challenges two main ideological props of white supremacy among European-American workers -- the argument that "racism is innate" and the argument that European-American workers "benefit" from white supremacism and "white" privileges (Allen argues that the race privileges are a "poison bait," like a shot of heroin, and that the race privileges are ruinous to the interests of African Americans and of European-American workers).

As he argues –
“An Injury to One is an Injury to All!"
"Solidarity Forever, Means Privileges Never!"


The article “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights from Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” by Jeffrey B. Perry offers the fullest treatment of the development of his thought and discusses this subject. For the article Click Here (at top left) or Click Here

For a longer Slide Presentation/Talk on Theodore W. Allen’s The Invention of the White Race at the Brecht Forum in New York City on January 31, 2013, see Click Here

For information on Theodore W. Allen Click Here and Click Here

For information on Jeffrey B. Perry Click Here

This segment was videoed on January 31, 2013, by Fred Nguyen of Fan Smiles.
 Read More 
Be the first to comment

Theodore W. Allen's Challenge to the Historical Master Narratives Associated with the Work of Winthrop D. Jordan and Edmund S. Morgan

For anyone reading (or using in a class or study group) Edmund S. Morgan’s "American Slavery/American Freedom" and/or Winthrop D. Jordan's "White Over Black," I would encourage also reading something by Theodore W. Allen.

In particular, I would recommend either Allen's “The Invention of the White Race” (re-published in a new expanded edition by Verso Books in November 2012), his 1978 review of Morgan’s book in “Monthly Review,” his article “Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race” (available online at http://clogic.eserver.org/2006/allen.html Click Here ), or his "Summary of the Argument of 'The Invention of the White Race'" (available online at http://clogic.eserver.org/1-2/allen.html Click Here ).

Allen's work details the development of racial slavery and racial oppression in Anglo-America with special emphasis on social control and "the invention of the 'white race'" in late-17th century Virginia.

In the process, it seeks to challenge what Allen considers to be the two main arguments that undermine the struggle against white supremacy by European-American workers: (1) the argument that white supremacism is innate, and (2) the argument that European-American workers “benefit” from “white race” privileges and white supremacism -- that the privileges are in their class interest.

These arguments are respectively related to two historical master narratives rooted in writings on the colonial period.

The first argument is associated with the “unthinking decision” explanation for the development of racial slavery offered by Winthrop D. Jordan in "White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812."

The second argument is related to Morgan’s contention that as racial slavery developed in Virginia, “there were too few free poor [European-Americans] on hand to matter.”

Allen's rigorously researched two-volume "classic" The Invention of the White Race challenges both these positions and it (along with his other writings) offers an important counter-narrative to the narratives of Jordan and Morgan.

It is a seminal contribution to U.S. history!

Jeffrey B. Perry
 Read More 
Be the first to comment

Brief Comments on the Importance of the Work of Theodore W. Allen author of The Invention of the White Race by Jeffrey B. Perry

I strongly encourage people who want to know what Theodore W. Allen’s The Invention of the White Race” is about to read it in the original.

His two-volume “classic” is approximately 800 pages including some 30% notes and appendices. It includes voluminous primary research conducted over thirty years and offers profound and compelling theses. He knows the contending arguments, he tries to treat those positions seriously and in their best light, and he refers readers back to detailed and specific sources so they can investigate for themselves. It is high quality and very principled scholarship.

Allen has also provided a very helpful Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race

The new expanded 2012 Verso Books edition of The Invention of the White Race includes introductions to each volume, background on Allen and his work, internal study guides, and significantly expanded indexes (especially the index to vol. 2 on The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America).

Allen’s “Introduction” to Volume 1: Racial Oppression and Social Control discusses his work in relation to that of Carl Degler, Winthrop D. Jordan, Oscar and Mary Handlin, Eric Williams, Edmund S. Morgan, Timothy Breen, and others.

The following two reviews by Allen are particularly important --

1) Theodore William Allen, “Slavery, Racism, and Democracy," Review of Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1974). Monthly Review 29, no. 10 (March 1978): 57-63.
2) Theodore W. Allen, "On Roediger's Wages of Whiteness," Cultural Logic, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Spring 2001)

Strongly recommended for understanding the development of Allen’s thought is “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights from Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen On the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy,” in "Cultural Logic" (2010) available in pdf format at the top left HERE and also available at Cultural Logic (2010), especially pages 1-6, 8-12, 26, 30-113.

"The Developing Conjuncture . . ." offers some of Allen’s thoughts on work by labor and left historians and writers on history including Frederick Engels, Frederick A. Sorge, Frederick Jackson Turner, Richard T. Ely, Morris Hillquit, John R. Commons, Selig Perlman, Mary Ritter Beard, Charles A. Beard, William Z. Foster, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Lewis C. Gray, Roger W. Shugg, Hubert Harrison, David Roediger, Winthrop D. Jordan, Edmund S. Morgan, Eric Williams, C. L. R. James, Norman Ware, Herman Schlueter, Philip S. Foner, Harry Heywood, and “James S. Allen” [Sol Auerbach]. Of particular interest are Allen’s thoughts from his unpublished “Toward a Revolution in Labor History.”

A number of additional writings by and about Allen can be found HERE!  Read More 
Be the first to comment