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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

Theodore W. Allen Theses on “The Invention of the White Race” and Lessons from Three Crises Presentation by Jeffrey B. Perry




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The Invention of the White Race in 1994 and 1997, and authored a number of other extremely important published and unpublished pieces.

His "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 presents three of Allen’s theses related to the invention of the “white race” and his important analysis of the white supremacy’s role in beating back struggles from below in three great crises in U.S. history.

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. Click Here (at top left) or Click Here

For A Slide Presentation/Talk on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” at the Brecht Forum in New York City Click Here

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

For information on Jeffrey B. Perry Click Here
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"The Invention of the White Race": Dr. Jeffrey Perry Discusses the New Expanded Edition of Theodore William Allen's The Invention of the White Race (Verso Books, 2012). Interview by Gary Glennell Toms, January 29, 2013.

On January 29, 2013, two days before the book launch for the new expanded edition of Theodore W. Allen's The Invention of the White Race (Verso Books, 2012), I was interviewed by Gary Glennell Toms regarding Allen's work, the struggle against white supremacy, and the upcoming book launch. The interview is listed as "The Invention of the White Race." To listen to it CLICK HERE. The book launch is being hosted by The Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen Society and will be held at the Brecht Forum, 451 West St., New York, NY, 10014 on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 7:30 PM. Read More 
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The Invention of the White Raceby Theodore W. AllenBook Launch and Slide Presentation/Talk by Jeffrey B. Perryfor the New Expanded Edition (Verso Books)Thurs., Jan. 31, 2013, 7:30 pm Brecht Forum, NYC

The Invention of the White Race
by Theodore W. Allen
Book Launch and Slide Presentation/Talk by Jeffrey B. Perry
for the New Expanded Edition (Verso Books, November 2012)
Hosted by the Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen Society
Thursday, January 31, 2013, 7:30 pm
Brecht Forum
451 West St. (between Bank and Bethune Sts.)
New York, NY 10014



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 (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 ruinous to the interests of African-Americans and “disastrous” for laboring class European-Americans, and how the “white race” has been the principal historic guarantor of ruling-class domination in America.

The Invention of the White Race 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.

Extraordinary praise for Allen’s work has been offered from such scholars and labor, left, and anti-white supremacist activists activists as Audrey Smedley, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Tim Wise, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Gene Bruskin, Tami Gold, Muriel Tillinghast, Joe Berry, George Schmidt, Noel Inatiev, Carl Davidson, Mark Solomon, Gerald Horne, Dorothy Salem, Sean Ahern, Wilson Moses, David Roediger Joe Wilson, Charles Lumpkins, Michael Zweig, Margery Freeman, Michael Goldfield, Spencer Sunshine, Ed Peeples, Russell Dale, Gwen-Midlo Hall, Sam Anderson, Gregory Meyerson, Younes Abouyoub, Bruce Nelson, William Carlotti, Peter Bohmer, Dennis O’Neill, Ted Pearson, Juliet Ucelli, Stella Winston, Sean J. Connolly, Vivien Sandlund, Dave Marsh, Russell R. Menard, Jonathan Scott, John D. Brewer, Richard Williams, William L. Vanderburg, Rodney Barker, and Matthew Frye Jacobson. CLICK HERE to read comments

To assist individual readers, classes, and study groups this new expanded edition of Allen’s seminal two-volume "classic" includes new introductions, new appendices with background on Allen and his writings, expanded indexes, and new internal study guides. The study guides follow each volume, chapter-by-chapter, and the indexes also include entries from Allen's extensive notes based on twenty years of primary research.

The work should be of special interest to students of U.S. History, Labor History, African-American History, Irish History, Caribbean History, African Diaspora Studies, American Studies, Race and Ethnicity, Political and Economic History, Sociology and Anthropology, and "White Privilege" and “Whiteness” Studies.

Jeffrey B. Perry contributed new introductions, back matter, internal study guides, and expanded indexes to Verso Books’ new expanded edition of The Invention of the White Race. For more information on Dr. Perry and his work on Hubert Harrison “the father of Harlem radicalism” (1883-1927) and Theodore W. Allen (1919-2005) CLICK HERE .

Background

“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.”
Theodore W. Allen
(Written after searching through 885 county-years of Virginia’s colonial records)


The above 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.

The Invention of the White Race, especially Volume 2, The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America, tells that story. For a Table of Contents for Volume 2 CLICK HERE For a Table of Contents for Volume 1 CLICK HERE
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Just Published -- The New Expanded Edition of "The Invention of the White Race" (2 vols.) by Theodore W. Allen. Introduction by Jeffrey B. Perry. From Verso Books.



To assist individual readers, classes, and study groups this new expanded edition of Allen’s seminal two-volume "classic" includes new introductions, new appendices with background on Allen and his writings, expanded indexes, and new internal study guides. The study guides follow each volume, chapter-by-chapter, and the indexes also include entries from Allen's extensive notes based on twenty years of primary research.

Please read the extraordinary praise from such scholars and labor, left, and anti-white supremacist activists activists as Audrey Smedley, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Tim Wise, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Gene Bruskin, Tami Gold, Muriel Tillinghast, Joe Berry, George Schmidt, Noel Inatiev, Carl Davidson, Mark Solomon, Gerald Horne, Dorothy Salem, Wilson Moses, David Roediger Joe Wilson, Charles Lumpkins, Michael Zweig, Margery Freeman, Michael Goldfield, Spencer Sunshine, Ed Peeples, Russell Dale, Gwen-Midlo Hall, Sean Ahern, Sam Anderson, Gregory Meyerson, Younes Abouyoub, Peter Bohmer, Dennis O’Neill, Ted Pearson, Juliet Ucelli, Stella Winston, Sean J. Connolly, Vivien Sandlund, Dave Marsh, Russell R. Menard, Jonathan Scott, John D. Brewer, Richard Williams, William L. Vanderburg, Rodney Barker, and Matthew Frye Jacobson. Click Here to read these comments

Table of Contents for Vol. 2
"The Invention of the White Race: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America"


Introduction to the Second Edition [by Jeffrey B. Perry]

PART ONE: Labor Problems of the European Colonizing Powers
1. The Labor Supply Problem: England a Special Case
2. English Background, with Anglo-American Variations Noted
3. Euro-Indian Relations and the Problem of Social Control

PART TWO: The Plantation of Bondage
4. The Fateful Edition to “Present Profit”
5. The Massacre of the Tenantry
6. Bricks without Straw: Bondage, but No Intermediate Stratum

PART THREE: Road to Rebellion
7. Bond-Labor: Enduring . . .
8. . . . and Resisting
9. The Insubstantiality of the Intermediate Stratum
10. The Status of African-Americans

PART FOUR: Rebellion and Reaction
11. Rebellion – And Its Aftermath
12. The Abortion of the “White Race” Social Control System in the Anglo-Caribbean
13. The Invention of the White Race – and the Ordeal of America

Appendices
Appendix II-A: (see Chapter 1, note 64 [re “Maroon communities” in the Americas])
Appendix II-B: (see Chapter 2, note 6 [re Wat Tyler’s Rebellion])
Appendix II-C: (see Chapter 5, note 46 [re the “‘cheap commodity’ strategy for capitalist conquest and William Bullock])
Appendix II-D: (see Chapter 7, note 197 [re the bond-labor system])
Appendix II-E: (see Chapter 9, note 54 [re reduction in the supply of persons in England “available for bond-labor in the plantation colonies”])
Appendix F: (see Chapter 13, note 26 [re William Gooch and the discussion of white supremacy among the ruling classes in eighteenth-century Virginia])
Editor’s Appendix G: A Guide to “The Invention of the White Race” Volume II
Editor’s Appendix H: Select Bibliography on Theodore W. Allen

Notes
Index [Newly Expanded]

This new edition of "The Invention of the White Race" is essential reading for those interested in matters of race and class, for study groups, and for classes. The volumes make especially thoughtful gifts for loved ones, friends, and co-workers.

Please encourage public librarians and school librarians to order these new editions so they are available for others to read!

The volumes are available directly from Verso Books Click Here

They are also available on special discount (including both volumes shrinkwrapped) from Amazon Click Here

For the initial price for a shrinkwrapped set of both volumes at Barnes and Noble Click Here

Table of Contents for Volume I

“The Invention of the White Race: Racial Oppression and Social Control”


Acknowledgements
Introduction to the Second Edition [by Jeffrey B. Perry]
Introduction
1. The Anatomy of Racial Oppression
2. Social Control and the Intermediate Strata: Ireland
3. Protestant Ascendancy and White Supremacy
4. Social Control: From Racial to National Oppression
5. Ulster
6. Anglo-America: Ulster Writ Large
7. The Sea-change
8. How the Sea-change was Wrought
Appendices
Appendix A: (see Introduction, note 46 [re intermarriage])
Appendix B: (see Introduction, note 46 [re “cheaper labor” rationale])
Appendix C: (see Chapter 1, note 58 and Chapter 2 note 51 [re Africans’ strength as a limit to English colonization])
Appendix D: (see Chapter 2, notes 42 and 73 [re English Plantations in Ireland as “response to rebellion”])
Appendix E: (see Chapter 2, note 58 [re England on threshold of its career as a world colonial power, with Ireland as its first objective”])
Appendix F: (see Chapter 2, note 77 [re Mountjoy’s “starvation strategy” for Ireland])
Appendix G: (see Chapter 2, note 108 [re “social control policies of the Western colonizing powers”])
Appendix H: (see Chapter 3, note 8 [re “Scottish slavery”])
Appendix I: (see Chapter 3, note 46 [re relative cost differential of English and Irish common labor greater than differential between wage-labor and bond-labor in continental Anglo-America])
Appendix J: (see Chapter 4, note 107 [re “Daniel O’Connell’s views regarding revolutionary violence in Ireland”])
Appendix K: (see Chapter 7, note 62 [re “The Slave” by Leander (John Hughes)])
Appendix L: (see Chapter 7, note 80 [re “Address from the people of Ireland to their Countrymen and Countrywomen in America”])
Editor’s Appendix M: A Brief Biography of Theodore W. Allen
Editor’s Appendix N: Notes to Encourage Engagement with Volume I
Chronological Finding Aid for Users of this Volume
Notes
Index [Newly Expanded]

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” 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 egalitarian motif and emphasis on class struggle it speaks to people today who strive for change worldwide. Its influence 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 implement 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.

Please share this information with others who might be interested!
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