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Lerone Bennett, Jr. on The Shaping of Black America and Theodore W. Allen on The Invention of the White Race



“Back there, before Jim Crow, before the invention of the . . . white man, and the words or concepts to describe them, the Colonial population consisted largely of a great mass of . . . [European American and African American] bondsmen, who occupied roughly the same economic category and were treated with equal contempt by the lords of the plantation and legislatures. Curiously unconcerned about their color, these people worked together and relaxed together. They had essentially the same interests, the same aspirations, and the same grievances. They conspired together and waged a common struggle against their common enemy – the big planter apparatus and a social system that legalized terror against . . . bondsmen. No one says and no one believes it was a Garden of Eden in Colonial America. But, the available evidence . . . suggests that there were widening bonds of solidarity . . . And the same evidence indicates that it proved very difficult indeed to teach white people to worship their skin.”

Lerone Bennett Jr.
The Shaping of Black America, Chapter 3, “The Road Not Taken,” 1975.

See also Theodore W. Allen, “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" [Verso Books] (including comments from scholars and activists and Table of Contents) HERE

Theodore W. 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, first published in 1994 and 1997, presents a full-scale challenge to what Allen refers to as “The Great White Assumption” – “the unquestioning, indeed unthinking acceptance of the ‘white’ identity of European-Americans of all classes as a natural attribute rather than a social construct.” Its thesis on the origin and nature of the “white race” contains the root of a new and radical approach to United States history, one that challenges master narratives taught in the media and in schools, colleges, and universities. With its equalitarian motif and emphasis on class struggle it speaks to people today who strive for change worldwide. Its influence on our understanding of American, African American, and labor history will continue to grow in the twenty-first century.

Readers of the first edition of "The Invention of the White Race" were startled by Allen’s bold assertion on the back cover: “When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no ‘white’ people there; nor, according to the colonial records, would there be for another sixty years.” That statement, based on twenty-plus years of research of Virginia’s colonial records, reflected the fact that Allen found “no instance of the official use of the word ‘white’ as a token of social status” prior to its appearance in a Virginia law passed in 1691. As he later explained, “Others living in the colony at that time were English; they had been English when they left England, and naturally they and their Virginia-born children were English, they were not ‘white.’ White identity had to be carefully taught, and it would be only after the passage of some six crucial decades” that the word “would appear as a synonym for European-American.”

Allen was not merely speaking of word usage, however. His probing research led him to conclude – based on the commonality of experience and demonstrated solidarity between African-American and European-American laboring people, the lack of a substantial intermediate buffer social control stratum, and the indeterminate status of African-Americans – that the “white race” was not, and could not have been, functioning in early Virginia.

It is in the context of such findings that he offers his major thesis -- the “white race” was invented as a ruling class social control formation in response to labor solidarity as manifested in the later, civil war stages of Bacon's Rebellion (1676-77). To this he adds two important corollaries: 1) the ruling elite, in its own class interest, deliberately instituted a system of racial privileges to define and maintain the “white race” and establish a system of racial oppression and 2) the consequences were not only ruinous to the interests of African-Americans, they were also “disastrous” for European-American workers.

In developing these theses Allen challenges the two main ideological props of white supremacy – the notion that “racism” is innate, and it is therefore useless to struggle against it, and the argument that European-American workers benefit from “white race” privileges and that it is in their interest not to oppose them and not to oppose white supremacy.

His challenge to these ideological props of white supremacy is both historical and theoretical. Allen offers meticulous use of sources, probing analysis of “Racial Oppression and Social Control” (the sub-title of this volume), and important comparative study that includes analogies, parallels, and differences between the Anglo-American plantation colonies, Ireland, and the Anglo-Caribbean colonies. He chooses these examples, all subjected to domination by Anglo ruling elites, in order to show that racial oppression is a system of social control not based on phenotype (skin color, etc.) and to show that social control factors impact how racial oppression begins, is maintained, and can be transformed.

"The Invention of the White Race" is Allen’s magnum opus – he worked on it for over twenty years. Its second volume, subtitled "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America," rigorously details the invention of the “white race” and the development of racial slavery, a particular form of racial oppression, in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Virginia. He claimed, with justification, that the second volume “contains the best of me.”

In Volume II, on "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America," Allen tells the story of the invention of the “white race” in the late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Anglo-American plantation colonies. His primary focus is on the pattern-setting Virginia colony, and he pays special attention to the reduction of tenants and wage-laborers in the majority English labor force to chattel bond-servants in the 1620s. In so doing, he emphasizes that this was a qualitative break from the condition of laborers in England and from long established English labor law, that it was not a feudal carryover, that it was imposed under capitalism, and that it was an essential precondition of the emergence of the lifetime hereditary chattel bond-servitude imposed upon African-American laborers under the system of racial slavery. Allen describes how, throughout much of the seventeenth century, the status of African-Americans was indeterminate (because it was still being fought out) and he details the similarity of conditions for African-American and European-American laborers and bond-servants. He also documents many significant instances of labor solidarity and unrest, especially during the 1660s and 1670s. Most important is his analysis of the civil war stage of Bacon’s Rebellion when "foure hundred English and Negroes in Arms" fought together demanding freedom from bondage.

It was in the period after Bacon's Rebellion that the “white race” was invented as a ruling-class social control formation. Allen describes systematic ruling-class policies, which conferred “white race” privileges on European-Americans while imposing harsher disabilities on African-Americans resulting in a system of racial slavery, a form of racial oppression that also imposed severe racial proscriptions on free African-Americans. He emphasizes that when African-Americans were deprived of their long-held right to vote in Virginia and Governor William Gooch explained in 1735 that the Virginia Assembly had decided upon this curtailment of the franchise in order "to fix a perpetual Brand upon Free Negros & Mulattos," it was not an "unthinking decision." Rather, it was a deliberate act by the plantation bourgeoisie and was a conscious decision in the process of establishing a system of racial oppression, even though it entailed repealing an electoral principle that had existed in Virginia for more than a century.

The key to understanding racial oppression, Allen argues, is in the formation of the intermediate social control buffer stratum, which serves the interests of the ruling class. In the case of racial oppression in Virginia, any persons of discernible non-European ancestry after Bacon's Rebellion were denied a role in the social control buffer group, the bulk of which was made up of laboring-class "whites." In the Anglo-Caribbean, by contrast, under a similar Anglo- ruling elite, "mulattos" were included in the social control stratum and were promoted into middle-class status. For Allen, this was the key to understanding the difference between Virginia’s ruling-class policy of “fixing a perpetual brand” on African-Americans, and the policy of the West Indian planters of formally recognizing the middle-class status “colored” descendant and other Afro-Caribbeans who earned special merit by their service to the regime. This difference, between racial oppression and national oppression, was rooted in a number of social control-related factors, one of the most important of which was that in the West Indies there were “too few” poor and laboring-class Europeans to embody an adequate petit bourgeoisie, while in the continental colonies there were '’too many’' to be accommodated in the ranks of that class.

The references to an “unthinking decision” and “too few” poor and laboring class Europeans are consistent with Allen's repeated efforts to challenge what he considered to be the two main arguments that undermine and disarm the struggle against white supremacy in the working class: (1) the argument that white supremacism is innate, and (2) the argument that European-American workers “benefit” from “white race” privileges and that it is in their interest not to oppose them and not to oppose white supremacy. These two arguments, opposed by Allen, are related to two master historical 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 historian Winthrop D. Jordan in his influential, White Over Black. The second argument is associated with historian Edmund S. Morgan’s similarly influential, American Slavery, American Freedom, which maintains that, as racial slavery developed, “there were too few free poor [European-Americans] on hand to matter.” Allen’s work directly challenges both the “unthinking decision” contention of Jordan and the “too few free poor” contention of Morgan.

Allen convincingly argues that the “white race” privileges conferred by the ruling class on European-Americans were not only ruinous to the interests of African-Americans; they were also against the class interest of European-American workers. He further argues that these “white-skin privileges” are “the incubus that for three centuries has paralyzed” the will of European-American workers “in defense of their class interests vis-à-vis those of the ruling class.”

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Theodore W. Allen Born 97 Years Ago Offers Important Insights On The Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy

Theodore W. Allen
Born 97 Years Ago
Offers Important Insights on
The Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy


Theodore W. Allen (August 23, 1919 – January 19, 2005), an autodidactic, anti-white supremacist working class intellectual and activist who pioneered a class struggle-based “white skin privilege” analysis in the mid-1960s and authored the seminal two-volume history The Invention of the White Race was born 97 years ago in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The "Introduction" to Volume I of the new expanded 2012 Verso Books edition of The Invention of the White Race explains:

Theodore W. Allen's The Invention of the White Race, with its focus on social control and the nature of racial oppression, is one of the twentieth-century's major contributions to historical understanding. This two-volume work, first published in 1994 and 1997, and considered a "classic" by 2003, presents a full-scale challenge to what Allen refers to as "The Great White Assumption"--the unquestioning acceptance of the "white race" and "white" identity as skin color-based and natural attributes rather than as social and political constructions. Its thesis on the origin and nature of the so-called "white race" contains the root of a new and radical approach to United States history, one that challenges dominant narratives taught in schools, colleges, universities, and the media. With its equalitarian motif and emphasis on the class struggle dimension of history it contributes mightily to our understanding of American, African American, and Labor History and it speaks to people desiring and struggling for change worldwide. Its influence can be expected to continue to grow in the twenty-first century.

Readers of the first volume of Invention were startled by Allen's bold, back-cover assertion that "When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no 'white' people there; nor, according to the colonial records, would there be for another sixty years." That statement, based on 20-plus years of primary research in Virginia's colonial records, reflected the fact that Allen found no instance of the official use of the word "white" as a token of social status prior to its appearance in a Virginia law passed in 1691. As he later explained, "Others living in the colony at that time were English; they had been English when they left England, and naturally they and their Virginia-born children were English, they were not 'white.' White identity had to be carefully taught, and it would be only after the passage of some six crucial decades" that the word "would appear as a synonym for European-American."

Allen was not merely speaking of word usage, however. His probing research led him to conclude that--based on the commonality of experience, the demonstrated solidarity between African-American and European-American laboring people, and the indeterminate status of African-Americans--the "white race" was not, and could not have been, functioning in early Virginia.

It is in this context that he offers his major thesis -- that the "white race" was invented as a ruling class social control formation in response to labor solidarity as manifested in the latter (civil war) stages of Bacon's Rebellion (1676-77). To this he adds two important corollaries: 1) the ruling elite deliberately instituted a system of racial privileges to define and maintain the "white race" and to implement a system of racial oppression, and 2) the consequence was not only ruinous to the interests of the African-American workers, but was also disastrous for European-American workers.

In developing these theses Allen challenges the two main ideological props of white supremacy--the notion that "racism" is innate (and it is therefore useless to challenge it) and the argument that European-American workers benefit from "white race" privileges and white supremacy (and that it is therefore in their interest not to oppose them).

His challenge is both historical and theoretical. He counters these arguments through meticulous use of sources, through probing analysis of "Racial Oppression and Social Control" (the sub-title of this volume), and through important comparative study that offers analogies, parallels, and differences between the Anglo-American plantation colonies, Ireland, and the Anglo-Caribbean colonies. Allen chooses these examples, all subjected to domination by Anglo ruling elites, in order to show that racial oppression is a system of social control not based on phenotype, or skin color, and to show how social control factors impact how racial oppression begins and how it can be maintained, transformed, or ended.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The article "The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy" (Cultural Logic," 2010) describes (with documentation) key components of Allen's analysis of "white race" privilege:

As he developed the "white race" privilege concept, Allen emphasized that these privileges were a "poison bait" and explained that they "do not permit" the masses of European American workers nor their children "to escape" from that class. "It is not that the ordinary white worker gets more than he must have to support himself," but "the Black worker gets less than the white worker." By, thus "inducing, reinforcing and perpetuating racist attitudes on the part of the white workers, the present-day power masters get the political support of the rank-and-file of the white workers in critical situations, and without having to share with them their super profits in the slightest measure." As one example, to support his position Allen would provide statistics showing that in the South where race privilege "has always been most emphasized...the white workers have fared worse than the white workers in the rest of the country."

Probing more deeply, Allen offered an additional important insight into why these race privileges are conferred by the ruling class. He pointed out that "the ideology of white racism" is "not appropriate to the white workers" because it is "contrary to their class interests." Because of this "the bourgeoisie could not long have maintained this ideological influence over the white proletarians by mere racist ideology." Under these circumstances white supremacist thought is "given a material basis in the form of the deliberately contrived system of race privileges for white workers."

Allen added, "the white supremacist system that had originally been designed in around 1700 by the plantation bourgeoisie to protect the base, the chattel bond labor relation of production" also served "as a part of the 'legal and political' superstructure of the United States government that, until the Civil War, was dominated by the slaveholders with the complicity of the majority of the European-American workers." Then, after emancipation, "the industrial and financial bourgeoisie found that it could be serviceable to their program of social control, anachronistic as it was, and incorporated it into their own 'legal and political' superstructure."

Allen felt that two essential points must be kept in mind. First, "the race-privilege policy is deliberate bourgeois class policy." Second, "the race-privilege policy is, contrary to surface appearance, contrary to the interests, short range as well as long range interests of not only the Black workers but of the white workers as well." He repeatedly emphasized that "the day-to-day real interests" of the European American worker "is not the white skin privileges, but in the development of an ever-expanding union of class conscious workers."

Allen made clear what he understood as the "interests of the working class" and referred to Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto: "1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole." He elsewhere pointed out, "The Wobblies caught the essence of it in their slogan: 'An injury to one is an injury to all.'"

Throughout his work Allen emphasizes, "that the initiator and the ultimate guarantor of the white skin privileges of the white worker is not the white worker, but the white worker's masters" and the masters do this because it is "an indispensable necessity for their continued class rule." He describes how "an all-pervasive system of racial privileges was conferred on laboring-class European-Americans, rural and urban, exploited and insecure though they themselves were" and how "its threads, woven into the fabric of every aspect of daily life, of family, church, and state, have constituted the main historical guarantee of the rule of the 'Titans,' damping down anti-capitalist pressures, by making 'race, and not class, the distinction in social life.'" That, "more than any other factor," he argues, "has shaped the contours of American history--from the Constitutional Convention of 1787 to the Civil War, to the overthrow of Reconstruction, to the Populist Revolt of the 1890s, to the Great Depression, to the civil rights struggle and 'white backlash' of our own day."

Based on his research Allen wrote, "history has shown that the white-skin privilege does not serve the real interests of the white workers, it also shows that the concomitant racist ideology has blinded them to that fact." He emphasized, "'Solidarity forever!' means 'Privileges never!'"

It is hoped that these brief remarks will lead more people to explore the work of Theodore W. Allen.

For writings, videos, and audios by and about Theodore W. Allen CLICK HERE

For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” Volume II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" (including comments from scholars and activists, Table of Contents, and an overview of the volume) CLICK HERE Note – the new, expanded Verso Books edition of this volume includes new introductions and notes, an expanded index, and a lengthy and detailed internal study guide.

For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” Volume I: “Racial Oppression and Social Control" (including comments from scholars and activists, Table of Contents, and an overview of the volume) CLICK HERE Note – the new, expanded Verso Books edition of this volume includes new introductions and notes, an expanded index, and a lengthy and detailed internal study guide.

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Video on Theodore W. Allen's The Invention of the White Race Passes 95,000-Viewers Mark If You Are Interested in "Race" and Class Study and Share Allen's Work







95,000 Views – Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race” - Presentation by Jeffrey B. Perry. This video of a slide presentation/talk on Allen’s “Invention” (2 vols.; Verso Books, new expanded edition, 2012), which opens with some insights from the life and work of Hubert Harrison (“The Father of Harlem Radicalism”), has just passed the 95,000 -Viewers Mark. See HERE

See also “Theodore W. Allen and ‘The Invention of the White Race’” video of slide presentation/talk by Jeffrey B. Perry at a June 2016 “Multiracial Organizing Conference” against white supremacy in Greensboro, NC
HERE
(Slides in this video are very clear).

Harrison and Allen are two of the twentieth century’s most important thinkers on "race" and class and they are growing in importance in the 21st century.

You are encouraged to watch the video at your leisure (the use of slides makes it possible to stop for awhile and then pick up where you left off). You are also encouraged to share this video with others – particularly younger activists. As one long-time activist wrote, Allen’s work “will change your life and outlook forever. You simply can't understand America and who we are without this book.”

Theodore W. Allen explained “When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no ‘white’ people there, nor according to the colonial records, would there be for another sixty years.” Allen based his statement on twenty-plus years of research and examination of 865 county years of pattern-setting Virginia’s colonial records. Allen makes clear that the “white race" did not exist in early colonial Virginia.

He then documents and develops three major themes:

1. The "white race" was invented as a ruling class social control formation in response to labor solidarity as manifested in the latter (civil war) stages of Bacon's Rebellion (1676-77).

2. A system of racial privileges was deliberately instituted by the late-17th/early- 18th-century Anglo-American bourgeoisie in order to define and establish the "white race” and to establish a system of racial oppression.

3. The consequence was not only “ruinous” to the interests of the African Americans, but was also "disastrous" for European-American workers. Their “position vis-á-vis the rich and powerful was not improved, but weakened by the white-skin privilege system.”

Theodore W. Allen (pioneer of class struggle-based “white skin privilege” analysis in the 1960s and author of “The Invention of the White Race” in the 1990s) and Hubert Harrison (“The Father of Harlem Radicalism”) are two of the most important thinkers on issues of "race" and class of the 20th century. They offer a tremendous amount of insights to people struggling today for a more just and radically changed society. Those concerned with issues of "race" and class are strongly urged to become familiar with their work and to share information by and about them with others.

This slide presentation / talk by Jeffrey B. Perry was hosted by the “Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen Society” at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan. Long-time activist Muriel Tillinghast chaired the event and long-time activist Sean Ahern assisted with the slides. Kazembe Balagun helped to arrange the event.

The video was shot by Fred Nguyen and made available Courtesy of Fansmiles Productions.

For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” Volume II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" (including comments from scholars and activists, Table of Contents, and an overview of the volume) see HERE
Note – the new, expanded Verso Books edition of this volume includes new introductions and notes, an expanded index, and a lengthy and detailed internal study guide.

For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” Volume I: “Racial Oppression and Social Control" (including comments from scholars and activists, Table of Contents, and an overview of the volume) see HERE
Note – the new, expanded Verso Books edition of this volume includes new introductions and notes, an expanded index, and a lengthy and detailed internal study guide.

For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” Part 1 see HERE

For an in-depth treatment of the development of the work of Theodore W. Allen see “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” in PDF format at the TOP LEFT at HERE

For additional writings by and about Theodore W. Allen see HERE

For a video interview with Theodore W. Allen on “The Invention of the White Race” conducted by Stella Winston and viewed by over 104,000 people see HERE

For comments from scholars and activists on "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918" (Columbia University Press) see HERE
and see
HERE

For information on "A Hubert Harrison Reader" (Wesleyan University Press) see HERE

For information on the new, expanded, Diasporic Africa Press edition of Hubert H. Harrison's “When Africa Awakes: The 'Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World” see HERE

For a video of a Slide Presentation/Talk on Hubert Harrison see HERE

For articles, audios, and videos by and about Hubert Harrison see HERE

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Recommended Summer Reading Recommended Summer Viewing On Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen



Recommended Summer Reading
Recommended Summer Viewing
On Hubert Harrison
and Theodore W. Allen

Important summer reading and viewing -- The autodidactic, anti-white supremacist, working-class intellectuals Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen are two of the twentieth century’s most important thinkers on race and class. The following readings and videos are recommended:

“A Hubert Harrison Reader” ed. with an introduction and notes by Jeffrey B. Perry (Wesleyan University Press) CLICK HERE

Jeffrey B. Perry, “Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918” (Columbia University Press) CLICK HERE

Hubert H. Harrison, “When Africa Awakes: The ‘Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World,” edited with an introduction and notes by Jeffrey B. Perry (Diasporic Africa Press) CLICK HERE

Jeffrey B. Perry, “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights from Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” (which offers the fullest treatment of the development of Allen’s thought -- CLICK HERE

Theodore W. Allen, “The Invention of the White Race” Volume 1: “Racial Oppression and Social Control," edited with an introduction and notes by Jeffrey B. Perry (Verso Books), CLICK HERE

Theodore W. Allen, “The Invention of the White Race,” Volume 2: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America," CLICK HERE

“Hubert Harrison,” video of a slide presentation/talk by Jeffrey B. Perry at the Dudley Branch of the Boston Public Library in Roxbury, Massachusetts on February 15, 2014, CLICK HERE

“Theodore W. Allen’s ‘The Invention of the White Race’" by Jeffrey B. Perry at the Brecht Forum in New York City CLICK HERE

“Theodore W. Allen and ‘The Invention of the White Race’” video of 2016 slide presentation/talk by Jeffrey B. Perry at a “Multiracial Organizing Conference” against white supremacy in Greensboro, NC CLICK HERE

Jeffrey B. Perry, “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights from Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” (which offers the fullest treatment of the development of Allen’s thought) http://www.jeffreybperry.net (at Top Left) or see http://clogic.eserver.org/2010/2010.html
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Theodore W. Allen and The Invention of the White Race by Jeffrey B. Perry New Video



New Video
Theodore W. Allen and The Invention of the White Race
by Jeffrey B. Perry


This slide presentation/talk on “Theodore W. Allen and ‘The Invention of the White Race’" by Jeffrey B. Perry was presented on Saturday, June 18, 2016, at a "Multiracial Organizing Conference" on "Organizing Poor and Working Class Whites: The Challenge of Building a Multiracial Movement," at the Beloved Community Center, 417 Arlington St., Greensboro, NC.


The two-day conference pulled together a “multiracial” group of mostly young organizers from the South, who are doing work among poor and working people, and who oppose class exploitation and oppression and emphasize the centrality of struggle against white supremacy to efforts at social change.


The video includes some important insights from the life and work of Hubert Harrison, "the father of Harlem Radicalism."


Organizer Ben Wilkins coordinated the two-day conference and other speakers included long-time activists Joyce Johnson, Rosalyn Pelles, Bob Zellner, Al McSurely, Leonard Zeskind, and Devin Burghart.


Special thanks go to Eric Preston (and Fusion Films) for help in the preparation of this video.


Please share this video with others! The struggle against white supremacy is central to efforts at social change!


For the video CLICK HERE

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Video on Theodore W. Allen's The Invention of the White Race Passes 90,000-Viewers Mark Has Many Insights for TodayStudy and Share Allen's Work





90,000 viewers -- Theodore W. Allen (pioneer of class struggle-based “white skin privilege” analysis in the 1960s and author of “The Invention of the White Race” in the 1990s) and Hubert Harrison (“The Father of Harlem Radicalism”) are two of the most important thinkers on issues of race and class of the 20th century.

They offer a tremendous amount of insights to people struggling today for a more just and radically changed society. Those concerned with issues of race and class are strongly urged to become familiar with their work and to share information by and about them with others.

This video presentation on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race,” which opens with some insights from the life and work of Hubert Harrison, has just passed the 90,000-Viewers Mark.

This slide presentation / talk by Jeffrey B. Perry was hosted by the “Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen Society” at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan. Long-time activist Muriel Tillinghast chaired the event and long-time activist Sean Ahern assisted with the slides.

The video was shot by Fred Nguyen and made available Courtesy of Fansmiles Productions.

For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” Volume II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" (including comments from scholars and activists, Table of Contents, and an overview of the volume) CLICK HERE Note – the new, expanded Verso Books edition of this volume includes new introductions and notes, an expanded index, and a lengthy and detailed internal study guide.

For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” Volume I: “Racial Oppression and Social Control" (including comments from scholars and activists, Table of Contents, and an overview of the volume) CLICK HERE Note – the new, expanded Verso Books edition of this volume includes new introductions and notes, an expanded index, and a lengthy and detailed internal study guide.

For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” Part 1 CLICK HERE
and for Part 2 CLICK HERE

For additional writings by and about Theodore W. Allen CLICK HERE

For an in-depth treatment of the development of the work of Theodore W. Allen see “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 in PDF format at the TOP LEFT CLICK HERE
or at “Cultural Logic” CLICK HERE
Note: Important Allen insights on class struggle, the origin [note singular] of racial oppression in Anglo-America, "whiteness," "racism," and white privileges are offered

102,000 Viewers -- For a video interview with Theodore W. Allen on “The Invention of the White Race” conducted by Stella Winston and viewed by over 102,000 people CLICK HERE

For comments from scholars and activists on "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918" (Columbia University Press) CLICK HERE
and CLICK HERE

For information on "A Hubert Harrison Reader" (Wesleyan University Press) CLICK HERE
For information on the new, Diasporic Africa Press expanded edition of Hubert H. Harrison's “When Africa Awakes: The 'Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World” CLICK HERE

For a video of a Slide Presentation/Talk on Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE

For articles, audios, and videos by and about Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE

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Video on Theodore W. Allen's The Invention of the White Race Passes 85,000-Viewers Mark Has Many Insights for TodayStudy and Share Allen's Work





85,000 viewers -- Theodore W. Allen (pioneer of class struggle-based “white skin privilege” analysis in the 1960s and author of “The Invention of the White Race” in the 1990s) and Hubert Harrison (“The Father of Harlem Radicalism”) are two of the most important thinkers on issues of race and class of the 20th century.

They offer a tremendous amount of insights to people struggling today for a more just and radically changed society. Those concerned with issues of race and class are strongly urged to become familiar with their work and to share information by and about them with others.

This video presentation on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race,” which opens with some insights from the life and work of Hubert Harrison, has just passed the 80,000-Viewers Mark.

This slide presentation / talk by Jeffrey B. Perry was hosted by the “Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen Society” at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan. Long-time activist Muriel Tillinghast chaired the event and long-time activist Sean Ahern assisted with the slides.
The video was shot by Fred Nguyen and made available Courtesy of Fansmiles Productions.

For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” Volume II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" (including comments from scholars and activists, Table of Contents, and an overview of the volume) CLICK HERE Note – the new, expanded Verso Books edition of this volume includes new introductions and notes, an expanded index, and a lengthy and detailed internal study guide.

For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” Volume I: “Racial Oppression and Social Control" (including comments from scholars and activists, Table of Contents, and an overview of the volume) CLICK HERE Note – the new, expanded Verso Books edition of this volume includes new introductions and notes, an expanded index, and a lengthy and detailed internal study guide.

For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” Part 1 CLICK HERE
and for Part 2 CLICK HERE

For additional writings by and about Theodore W. Allen CLICK HERE

For an in-depth treatment of the development of the work of Theodore W. Allen see “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 in PDF format at the TOP LEFT CLICK HERE
or at “Cultural Logic” CLICK HERE
Note: Important Allen insights on class struggle, the origin [note singular] of racial oppression in Anglo-America, "whiteness," "racism," and white privileges are offered

97,000 Viewers -- For a video interview with Theodore W. Allen on “The Invention of the White Race” conducted by Stella Winston and viewed by over 97,000 people CLICK HERE

For comments from scholars and activists on "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918" (Columbia University Press) CLICK HERE
and CLICK HERE

For information on "A Hubert Harrison Reader" (Wesleyan University Press) CLICK HERE
For information on the new, Diasporic Africa Press expanded edition of Hubert H. Harrison's “When Africa Awakes: The 'Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World” CLICK HERE

For a video of a Slide Presentation/Talk on Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE

For articles, audios, and videos by and about Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE

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Video on Theodore W. Allen's The Invention of the White Race Passes 80,000-Viewers Mark Has Many Insights for TodayStudy and Share Allen's Work





80,000 viewers -- Theodore W. Allen (pioneer of class struggle-based “white skin privilege” analysis in the 1960s and author of “The Invention of the White Race” in the 1990s) and Hubert Harrison (“The Father of Harlem Radicalism”) are two of the most important thinkers on issues of race and class of the 20th century.

They offer a tremendous amount of insights to people struggling today for a more just and radically changed society. Those concerned with issues of race and class are strongly urged to become familiar with their work and to share information by and about them with others.

This video presentation on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race,” which opens with some insights from the life and work of Hubert Harrison, has just passed the 80,000-Viewers Mark.

This slide presentation / talk by Jeffrey B. Perry was hosted by the “Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen Society” at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan. Long-time activist Muriel Tillinghast chaired the event and long-time activist Sean Ahern assisted with the slides.
The video was shot by Fred Nguyen and made available Courtesy of Fansmiles Productions.

For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” Volume II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" (including comments from scholars and activists, Table of Contents, and an overview of the volume) CLICK HERE Note – the new, expanded Verso Books edition of this volume includes new introductions and notes, an expanded index, and a lengthy and detailed internal study guide.

For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” Volume I: “Racial Oppression and Social Control" (including comments from scholars and activists, Table of Contents, and an overview of the volume) CLICK HERE Note – the new, expanded Verso Books edition of this volume includes new introductions and notes, an expanded index, and a lengthy and detailed internal study guide.

For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” Part 1 CLICK HERE
and for Part 2 CLICK HERE

For additional writings by and about Theodore W. Allen CLICK HERE

For an in-depth treatment of the development of the work of Theodore W. Allen see “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 in PDF format at the TOP LEFT CLICK HERE
or at “Cultural Logic” CLICK HERE
Note: Important Allen insights on class struggle, the origin [note singular] of racial oppression in Anglo-America, "whiteness," "racism," and white privileges are offered

97,000 Viewers -- For a video interview with Theodore W. Allen on “The Invention of the White Race” conducted by Stella Winston and viewed by over 97,000 people CLICK HERE

For comments from scholars and activists on "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918" (Columbia University Press) CLICK HERE
and CLICK HERE

For information on "A Hubert Harrison Reader" (Wesleyan University Press) CLICK HERE
For information on the new, Diasporic Africa Press expanded edition of Hubert H. Harrison's “When Africa Awakes: The 'Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World” CLICK HERE

For a video of a Slide Presentation/Talk on Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE

For articles, audios, and videos by and about Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE

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Video Presentation on Theodore W. Allen's The Invention of White Race Passes 75,000-Viewers Mark Two-volume work on Sale from Verso Books






This Video on The Invention of the White Race
by Theodore W. Allen
Just Passed the 75,000-Viewers Mark on YouTube.
Interest in Allen’s work continues to grow.

This video on Theodore W. Allen’s The Invention of White Race has just passed the 75,000-Viewers Mark.

The video was shot by Fred Nguyen and made available Courtesy Fansmiles Productions.

Verso Books is having a Special Sale of each volume of the two-volume The Invention of the White Race for 50% off, with bundled e-book and free shipping.

Note: The new, expanded editions of the two volumes have internal study guides that are ideal for classroom and/or study group use.

People are encouraged to watch the video, to read the books, and to share this information with others.

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) see CLICK HERE

For information on “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. I: “Racial Oppression and Social Control" (including comments from scholars and activists and Table of Contents) published by Verso Books see -- CLICK HERE

For information on Allen’s “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” Part 1 see CLICK HERE

For an in-depth treatment of the development of the work of Theodore W. Allen see “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 at the top left at HERE or at “Cultural Logic” HERE

For a video of a Slide Presentation/Talk on Hubert Harrison see CLICK HERE

For comments from scholars and activists on "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918" (Columbia University Press) CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE

For articles, audios, and videos by and about Hubert Harrison see CLICK HERE
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Theodore W. Allen on "The Invention of the White Race," "white privilege," and the working class

Theodore W. Allen on "The Invention of the White Race," "white privilege," and the working class. Published in Socialist Workerd, April 28, 2015. To read the article Click Here or see below --

“Theodore W. Allen
On The Invention of the White Race,
‘White Privilege,’ and the Working Class”
by
Jeffrey B. Perry


Interest in the work of Theodore W. Allen continues to grow and people increasingly inquire about his writings on The Invention of the White Race, “white privilege,” and the working class. In response to recent queries I offer this brief introductory paragraph followed by three passages that offer some of his thinking on these topics.

The independent, anti-white supremacist, working class intellectual Theodore W. Allen (1919-2005) is one of the most important thinkers on race and class of the twentieth century. His seminal two-volume classic “The Invention of the White Race” (Volume 1: Racial Oppression and Social Control and Volume 2: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America) was published in 1994 and 1997 by Verso Books and in 2012 was re-published by Verso in new expanded form (that includes internal study guides in each volume). Allen began his pioneering research on “white privilege” in 1965 and continued to write on the topic for forty years.

The “Introduction” to Volume I of the new (Verso, 2012) edition of “The Invention of the White Race” explains that:

Theodore W. Allen’s The Invention of the White Race, with its focus on social control and the nature of racial oppression, is one of the twentieth-century’s major contributions to historical understanding. This two-volume work, first published in 1994 and 1997, and considered a “classic” by 2003, presents a full-scale challenge to what Allen refers to as “The Great White Assumption” -- the unquestioning acceptance of the “white race” and “white” identity as skin color-based and natural attributes rather than as social and political constructions. Its thesis on the origin and nature of the so-called “white race” contains the root of a new and radical approach to United States history, one that challenges dominant narratives taught in schools, colleges, universities, and the media. With its equalitarian motif and emphasis on the class struggle dimension of history it contributes mightily to our understanding of American, African American, and Labor History and it speaks to people desiring and struggling for change worldwide. Its influence can be expected to continue to grow in the twenty-first century.

Readers of the first volume of Invention were startled by Allen’s bold, back-cover assertion that “When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no ‘white’ people there; nor, according to the colonial records, would there be for another sixty years.” That statement, based on twenty-plus years of primary research in Virginia’s colonial records, reflected the fact that Allen found no instance of the official use of the word “white” as a token of social status prior to its appearance in a Virginia law passed in 1691. As he later explained, “Others living in the colony at that time were English; they had been English when they left England, and naturally they and their Virginia-born children were English, they were not ‘white.’ White identity had to be carefully taught, and it would be only after the passage of some six crucial decades” that the word “would appear as a synonym for European-American.”

Allen was not merely speaking of word usage, however. His probing research led him to conclude that – based on the commonality of experience, the demonstrated solidarity between African-American and European-American laboring people, and the indeterminate status of African-Americans -- the “white race” was not, and could not have been, functioning in early Virginia.

It is in this context that he offers his major thesis -- that the “white race” was invented as a ruling class social control formation in response to labor solidarity as manifested in the latter (civil war) stages of Bacon's Rebellion (1676-77). To this he adds two important corollaries: 1) the ruling elite deliberately instituted a system of racial privileges to define and maintain the “white race” and to implement a system of racial oppression, and 2) the consequence was not only ruinous to the interests of the African-American workers, but was also disastrous for European-American workers.

In developing these theses Allen challenges the two main ideological props of white supremacy – the notion that “racism” is innate (and it is therefore useless to challenge it) and the argument that European-American workers benefit from “white race” privileges and white supremacy (and that it is therefore in their interest not to oppose them).

His challenge is both historical and theoretical. He counters these arguments through meticulous use of sources, through probing analysis of "Racial Oppression and Social Control” (the sub-title of this volume), and through important comparative study that offers analogies, parallels, and differences between the Anglo-American plantation colonies, Ireland, and the Anglo-Caribbean colonies. Allen chooses these examples, all subjected to domination by Anglo ruling elites, in order to show that racial oppression is a system of social control not based on phenotype, or skin color, and to show how social control factors impact how racial oppression begins and how it can be maintained, transformed, or ended.

The core theses in Allen’s analysis were evidenced in the early 1970s. Allen writes in his Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race (1975; reprinted with new Editor’s Introduction by “Cultural Logic” and by the Center for the Study of Working Class Life, State University of New York, Stony Brook, 2006), n. 63:

Of all the historians of the "social" school whose work I have read, only the black historian Lerone Bennett, Jr., in his article, "The Road Not Taken," Ebony, vol. 25 (1970), no. 10 (August), pp. 70-77, and in Chap. III of his new book The Shaping of Black America (Chicago, 1975), succeeds in placing the argument on the three essential bearing-points from which it cannot be toppled. First, racial slavery and white supremacy in this country was a ruling-class response to a problem of labor solidarity. Second, a system of racial privileges for white workers was deliberately instituted in order to define and establish the "white race" as a social control formation. Third, the consequence was not only ruinous to the interests of the Afro-American workers but was also "disastrous" (Bennett's word) for the white worker. Others (such as the Handlins, Morgan and Breen) state the first two points to some degree, but only Bennett combines all three.

Although I learned of Bennett's essay only in April 1975, the same three essentials have informed my own approach in a book I have for several years been engaged in writing (and of which this present article is a spin-off), on the origin of racial slavery, white supremacy and the system of racial privileges of white labor in this country.


The article The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy (Cultural Logic,” 2010) describes (with documentation) key components of Allen’s analysis of “white race” privilege:

As he developed the "white race" privilege concept, Allen emphasized that these privileges were a "poison bait" and explained that they "do not permit" the masses of European American workers nor their children "to escape" from that class. "It is not that the ordinary white worker gets more than he must have to support himself," but "the black worker gets less than the white worker." By, thus "inducing, reinforcing and perpetuating racist attitudes on the part of the white workers, the present-day power masters get the political support of the rank-and-file of the white workers in critical situations, and without having to share with them their super profits in the slightest measure." As one example, to support his position Allen would provide statistics showing that in the South where race privilege "has always been most emphasized . . . the white workers have fared worse than the white workers in the rest of the country."

Probing more deeply, Allen offered an additional important insight into why these race privileges are conferred by the ruling class. He pointed out that "the ideology of white racism" is "not appropriate to the white workers" because it is "contrary to their class interests." Because of this "the bourgeoisie could not long have maintained this ideological influence over the white proletarians by mere racist ideology." Under these
circumstances white supremacist thought is "given a material basis in the form of the deliberately contrived system of race privileges for white workers."

Allen added, "the white supremacist system that had originally been designed in around 1700 by the plantation bourgeoisie to protect the base, the chattel bond labor relation of production" also served "as a part of the 'legal and political' superstructure of the United States government that, until the Civil War, was dominated by the slaveholders with the complicity of the majority of the European-American workers." Then, after emancipation, "the industrial and financial bourgeoisie found that it could be serviceable to their program of social control, anachronistic as it was, and incorporated it into their own 'legal and political' superstructure."

Allen felt that two essential points must be kept in mind." First, "the race- privilege policy is deliberate bourgeois class policy." Second, "the race-privilege policy is, contrary to surface appearance, contrary to the interests, short range as well as long range interests of not only the Black workers but of the white workers as well." He repeatedly emphasized that "the day-to-day real interests" of the European American worker "is not the white skin privileges, but in the development of an ever-expanding union of class conscious workers."

Allen made clear what he understood as the "interests of the working class" and referred to Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto: "1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole." He elsewhere pointed out, "The Wobblies caught the essence of it in their slogan: 'An injury to one is an injury to all.'"

Throughout his work Allen emphasizes, "that the initiator and the ultimate guarantor of the white skin privileges of the white worker is not the white worker, but the white worker's masters" and the masters do this because it is "an indispensable necessity for their continued class rule." He describes how "an all-pervasive system of racial privileges was conferred on laboring-class European-Americans, rural and urban, exploited and insecure though they themselves were" and how "its threads, woven into the fabric of every aspect of daily life, of family, church, and state, have constituted the main historical guarantee of the rule of the 'Titans,' damping down anti-capitalist pressures, by making 'race, and not class, the distinction in social life.'" That, "more than any other factor," he argues, "has shaped the contours of American history - from the Constitutional Convention of 1787 to the Civil War, to the overthrow of Reconstruction, to the Populist Revolt of the 1890s, to the Great Depression, to the civil rights struggle and 'white backlash' of our own day."

Based on his research Allen wrote, "history has shown that the white-skin privilege does not serve the real interests of the white workers, it also shows that the concomitant racist ideology has blinded them to that fact." He emphasized, "'Solidarity forever!' means 'Privileges never!'"

It is hoped that these brief remarks will lead more people to explore the work of Theodore W. Allen.

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