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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

“ . . . the ‘white race’ must be understood, not simply as a social construct, but as a ruling class social control formation.” Theodore W. Allen


7. . . . the thesis of "race as a social construct," as it now stands, . . . is an insufficient basis for refutation of white-supremacist apologetics. For, what is to be the reply to the socio-biologist and historian Carl N. Degler who simply says that, ". . . blacks will be discriminated against whenever non-blacks have the power and incentive to do so . . . [because] it is human to have prejudice against those who are different." Or, what if the socio-biologists say, "Fine, we can agree that racial ideology is a social construct, but what is your 'social construct' but an expression of genetic determinants -- another version of Winthrop Jordan's 'unthinking decision'"
8. The logic of "race as a social construct" must be tightened and the focus sharpened. . . . the "white race" must be understood, not simply as a social construct, but as a ruling class social control formation.

For Allen’s “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” – for Part 1 see CLICK HERE and for Part 2 see CLICK HERE

For additional discussion of this subject see 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” pp. 77-86 at the top left
at HERE or at “Cultural Logic” HERE


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Re: Naomi Zack “What ‘White’ Privilege Really Means” from “New York Times” by Jeffrey B. Perry Drawing on Work of Theodore W. Allen

Re: “What ‘White’ Privilege Really Means” – a Naomi Zack interview by George Yancy in the November 5, 2014, “New York Times” online "Opinionator" column “The Stone.”

On the subject of “white privilege” I encourage people to read the work of Theodore W. Allen (1919-2005) who pioneered his "white skin privilege" analysis in the 1960s and authored the two-volume classic “The Invention of the White Race” in the 1990s.

Allen maintains that the "white race" was invented as a ruling-class social control formation and that a system of racial oppression was imposed in response to labor solidarity in the wake of Bacon's Rebellion (1676-77); that the "white race" was created and maintained through "white race" privileges conferred on laboring class European-Americans relative to African-Americans; and that these privileges were not in the interest of African-Americans or laboring class European-Americans.

Unlike Naomi Zack, Allen was not “motivated by a great need to work and not to be bored.” Rather, he sought historical understanding in order to challenge white supremacy and to contribute toward efforts at radical social change.

Allen documents how the word “white” as a symbol of social status did not appear in a Virginia colonial record until 1691. He further explains how "rights" in England were denied to European-American and African-American laborers through most of the 17th century in Virginia as a system of chattel-bond servitude was imposed (particularly after 1622). He then explains how, in response to Bacon’s Rebellion and other instances of labor solidarity, the plantation elite contrived a new social status, a “‘white’ identity,” designed to set European-Americans at a distance from African Americans and “to enlist European-Americans of every class as . . . supporters of capitalist agriculture based on chattel bond-labor.” The distinguishing characteristic of this “white race” was the participation of the laboring classes and the key to this “counterfeit of social mobility” was “to reissue long-established common law rights, ‘incident to every free man,’ but in the form of ‘white’ privileges: the presumption of liberty, the right to get married, the right to carry a gun, the right to read and write, the right to testify in legal proceedings, the right of self-directed physical mobility, and the enjoyment of male prerogatives over women.” Allen stressed, “the record indicates that laboring-class European-Americans in the continental plantation colonies showed little interest in ‘white identity’ before the institution of the system of ‘race’ privileges at the end of the seventeenth century.

Allen also emphasizes that to say race is a “social construct,” as does Zack, is not enough. He maintains that it must be emphasized that the “white race” is a ruling class social control formation. To simply say that race is a “social construct” leaves the back door open for those like Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Dinesh D’Souza who might at any time “adapt their thesis to ‘race-as-a-social-construct’ by describing racial prejudice as proceeding from ‘white’ Americans’ reaction to the ‘crisis of the Negro family,’ and a vast train of ‘social pathology’ that Moynihan ascribes to it; or, to the historical ‘cultural dysfunctionality’ of which D’Souza accuses African-Americans.”

Basing his work on decades of historical research, and with an awareness of the dangers in the Moynihan and D’Souza arguments, Allen emphasizes that the "white race" was invented and is maintained as a ruling-class social control formation and that it serves ruling class interests.

For more on Theodore W. Allen’s important work CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE

For a video of a slide presentation/talk on Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” CLICK HERE

For an in-depth discussion of Allen's work see 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” at the top left HERE and also at "Cultural Logic" HERE

Jeffrey B. Perry

The Naomi Zack interview by George Yancy entitled “What ‘White’ Privilege Really Means” is available online HERE

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The Invention of the White Race by Theodore W. Allen Slide Presentation/Talk (Video) by Jeffrey B. Perry


Jeffrey B. Perry -- Slide Presentation/Talk on
The Invention of the White Race (Verso Books) by Theodore W. Allen
with special emphasis on Vol. II: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America.
Hosted by “The Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen Society”
Filmed by Fred Nguyen on January 31, 2013
Brecht Forum, New York City
.


Note -- On this cold January night in 2013 the Brecht Forum, when it was still located in lower Manhattan, had no heat. The standing room only audience is testimony to the interest in Theodore W. Allen's important work and the struggle against white supremacy. For more on Theodore W. Allen's The Invention of the White Race CLICK HERE!

Please mark this video for viewing and share with others!
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Table of Contents for "The Developing Conjuncture and Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen On the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy," by Jeffrey B. Perry

Table of Contents
for
"The Developing Conjuncture and Insights From
Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen
On the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy"


By Jeffrey B. Perry
( For a link to the article CLICK HERE and go to top left)


Epigraph
Introduction
    Hubert Harrison
    Theodore W. Allen
    Harrison and Allen and the Centrality of the Struggle Against White-Supremacy
Some Class and Racial Aspects of The Conjuncture
    Deepening Economic Crisis
    U.S. Workers Faring Badly
    White Supremacist Shaping
    Wisconsin
    Millions are Suffering and Conditions are Worsening
Insights from Hubert Harrison
    Arrival in America, Contrast with St. Croix
    Socialist Party Writings
    “Southernism or Socialism – which?”
    The Socialist Party Puts [the “White”] Race First and Class After
   Class Consciousness, White Supremacy, and the "Duty to Champion the Cause of the Negro"
    On “The Touchstone” and the Two-Fold Character of Democracy in America
    Concentrated Race-Conscious Work in the Black Community
    Capitalist Imperialism and the Need to Break Down Exclusion Walls of White Workers
    The International Colored Unity League
    Struggle Against White Supremacy is Central
Insights from Theodore W. Allen
   Early Research and Writings and Pioneering Use of “White Skin Privilege” Concept
   White Blindspot
   Why No Socialism? . . . and The Main Retardant to Working    Class Consciousness
   The Role of White Supremacy in Three Previous Crises
   The Great Depression . . . and the White Supremacist Response
   Response to Four Arguments Against and Five “Artful Dodges”
   Early 1970s Writings and Strategy
   “The Invention of the White Race”
   Other Important Contributions in Writings on the Colonial Period
   Inventing the “White Race” and Fixing “a perpetual Brand upon Free Negros”
   Political Economic Aspects of the Invention of the “White Race”
   Racial Oppression and National Oppression
   “Racial Slavery” and “Slavery”
   Male Supremacy, Gender Oppression, and Laws Affecting the Family
   Slavery as Capitalism, Slaveholders as Capitalists, Enslaved as Proletarians
   Class-Conscious, Anti-White Supremacist Counter Narrative –    Comments on Jordan and Morgan
   Not Simply a Social Construct, But a Ruling Class Social    Control Formation . . . and Comments on Roediger
   The “White Race” and “White Race” Privilege
   On the Bifurcation of “Labor History” and “Black History” and on the “National Question”
   Later Writings . . . “Toward a Revolution in Labor History”
Strategy
The Struggle Ahead
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