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115,000 VIEWS This Video on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race” Has Just Passed the 115,000-Views Mark Please View and Share It!






115,000 VIEWS
This Video on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race”
Has Just Passed the 115,000-Views Mark.


115,000 VIEWS -- This Video on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race” Has Just Passed the 115,000-Views Mark. It opens with some insights from the life and work of Hubert Harrison.

Please take time to watch the video, to share it with friends, and to call the work of Theodore W. Allen and Hubert Harrison to the attention of others.

Theodore W. Allen’s “Invention of the White Race” has been referred to as a “classic” by historians Nell Painter, Gerald Horne, Wilson J. Moses, and Gregory Meyerson and by social anthropologist Audrey Smedley.

Labor historian Joe Berry says it “is one of the most important books of U.S history ever written.”

Historian Mark Solomon of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University, says, “The profound insights in ‘The Invention of the White Race’ are essential both to understand the origins and destructiveness of white supremacy and to provide the means to conduct struggle against it. Allen’s study is mandatory reading for everyone concerned with justice, equality and the liberation of all from the binds of white supremacy.”

Long time activist Carl Davidson emphasizes that “You simply can’t understand America and who we are without this [“The Invention of the White Race”] book.”

Special thanks to those who contributed to the book launch event that was the basis of this video on Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” – including filmmaker Fred Nguyen; Muriel Tillinghast and Sean Ahern of “The Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen Society”; Kazembe Balagun, Max Uhlenbeck, and Liz Mestres of the Brecht Forum; and Jessica Turner of Verso Books.

A second video on “The Invention of White Race,” recently filmed at a “multi-racial” worker organizing conference in Greensboro, NC, has exceptionally clear slides and is also attracting increased attention – see HERE Special thanks to organizer Ben Wilkins, who coordinated the two-day conference, and to Eric Preston (and Fusion Films) for work on the video.

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 “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 “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” Part 1 see HERE and for Part 2 see HERE

For additional writings by and about Theodore W. Allen 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
or at “Cultural Logic” at HERE

For a video interview with Theodore W. Allen on “The Invention of the White Race” conducted by New York City schoolteacher Stella Winston and viewed by over 105,000 people see HERE

For information on “Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918” (Columbia University Press, 2008) see HERE

For information on “A Hubert Harrison Reader” (Wesleyan University Press, 2001) see HERE

For information on Hubert H. Harrison, “When Africa Awakes: The ‘Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World,” New Expanded Edition (Diasporic Africa Press, 2015) see HERE

For a video on Hubert Harrison based on a presentation at the Dudley Public Library in Roxbury, Massachusetts – see -- HERE
Special thanks to Mimi Jones, Friends of the Dudley Library, Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, Massachusetts Global Action. Mirna Lascano, Umang Kumar, and Charlie Welch for making the event possible and to Boston Neighborhood News TV's "Around Town" -- Channel: Comcast 9 / RCN 15 -- Justin D. Shannahan, Production Manager, Ted Lewis, cameraman, and Laura Kerivan, copy editor, Nia Grace (Marketing and Promotions Manager), and Scott Mercer for helping to make the video available.

For a recent video on Hubert Harrison done at the St. Croix Landmarks Society, Estate Whim, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – see Read More 
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Theodore W. Allen’s Work On Centrality of Struggle Against White Supremacy Growing in Importance on 98th Anniversary of His Birth by Jeffrey B. Perry

Theodore W. Allen

Theodore W. “Ted” Allen (1919-2005) was an anti-white supremacist, working class intellectual and activist. He developed his pioneering class struggle-based analysis of “white skin privilege” beginning in the mid-1960s; authored the seminal two-volume The Invention of the White Race in the 1990s; and consistently maintained that the struggle against white supremacy was central to efforts at radical social change in the United States.

Born on August 23, 1919, in Indianapolis, Indiana, he grew up in Paintsville, Kentucky and Huntington, West Virginia (where he graduated from high school), and then went into the mines and became a United Mine Workers Local President. After hurting his back in the mines he moved to New York City and lived his last fifty-plus years in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.

The Invention of the White Race

Allen's two-volume The Invention of the White Race (1994, 1997: Verso Books, new expanded edition 2012) with its focus on racial oppression and social control is one of the twentieth-century's major contributions to historical understanding. It presents a full-scale challenge to what he 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, nature, and maintenance of the "white race" and its understanding that slavery in the Anglo-American plantation colonies was capitalist and enslaved Black laborers were proletarians, contain the basis of a revolutionary approach to United States labor history.

On the back cover of the 1994 edition of Volume 1, subtitled Racial Oppression and Social Control, Allen boldly asserted "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."

In this context 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 interest of African Americans, it was also disastrous for European-American workers.

In Volume II, on The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America, Allen tells the story of the invention of the “white race” and the development of the system of racial oppression 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. Of great significance is his analysis of the civil war stage of Bacon’s Rebellion when thousands of laboring people took up arms against the ruling plantation elite, the capital (Jamestown) was burned to the ground, rebels controlled 6/7 of the Virginia colony, and Afro- and Euro-American bond-servants fought side-by-side demanding an end to their 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 free 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.

Key to understanding the virulent racial oppression that develops in Virginia, Allen argues, is the formation of the intermediate social control buffer stratum, which serves the interests of the ruling class. 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. This difference was rooted in a number of social control-related factors, one of the most important of which was that in the Anglo-Caribbean 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.

In The Invention of the White Race Allen challenges what he considers to be two main ideological props of white supremacy -- the argument 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 not in their interest to oppose them). 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: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812. The second argument is associated with historian Edmund S. Morgan’s influential American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia, which maintains that in Virginia, as slavery developed in the eighteenth century, “there were too few free poor [European-Americans] on hand to matter.” Allen points out that what Morgan said about “too few” free poor was true in the eighteenth century Anglo-Caribbean, but not in Virginia.

“white race” privilege

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 key components of Allen's analysis of "white race" privilege. The article explains that as he developed the "white race" privilege concept, Allen emphasized that these privileges were a "poison bait" (like a shot of “heroin”) and he 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 provided 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 additional important insights 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."

Thus, writes Allen, "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."

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." He emphasized, "'Solidarity forever!' means 'Privileges never!'" He elsewhere pointed out, "The Wobblies [the Industrial Workers of the World] caught the essence of it in their slogan: 'An injury to one is an injury to all.'"

Throughout his work Allen stresses 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."

Strategy

Allen also addressed the issue of strategy for social change. He emphasized, “The most vulnerable point at which a decisive blow can be struck against bourgeois rule in the United States is white supremacy.” He considered “white supremacy” to be “both the keystone and the Achilles heel of U.S. bourgeois democracy.”

Based on this analysis Allen maintained, “the first main strategic blow must be aimed at the most vulnerable point at which a decisive blow can be struck, namely, white supremacism.” This, he argued, was the conclusion to be drawn from a study of three great social crises in U.S. history – “the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Populist Revolt of the 1890s, and the Great Depression of the 1930s.” In each of these cases “the prospects for a stable broad front against capital has foundered on the shoals of white supremacism, most specifically on the corruption of the European-American workers by racial privilege.”

Groundbreaking Analysis Continues to Grow in Importance

Ted Allen died on January 19, 2005, and a memorial service was held for him at the Brooklyn Public Library where he had worked. Then on October 8, 2005, his ashes, as per his request, were spread in the York River (near West Point, Virginia) close to its convergence with the Pamunkey and Mattaponi Rivers – the location where the final armed holdouts, "Eighty Negroes and Twenty English," refused to surrender in the last stages of Bacon’s Rebellion.

Allen’s historical work has profound implications for American History, African-American History, Labor History, Left History, American Studies, and “Whiteness” Studies and it offers important insights in the areas of Caribbean History, Irish History, and African Diaspora Studies. With its meticulous primary research, equalitarian motif, emphasis on the class struggle dimension of history, and groundbreaking analysis his work continues to grow in influence and importance.

Additional Information

For writings, audios, and videos by and about Theodore W. Allen and his work see HERE

For information on The Invention of the White Race Vol. I: Racial Oppression and Social Control [Verso Books] (including comments from scholars and activists and Table of Contents) see HERE

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 HERE

For the fullest treatment of the development of Theodore W. Allen’s thought see “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)
HERE


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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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110,000 VIEWS This Video on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race” Has Just Passed the 110,000-Views Mark Please View and Share It!






110,000 VIEWS
This Video on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race”
Has Just Passed the 110,000-Views Mark.


110,000 VIEWS -- This Video on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race” Has Just Passed the 110,000-Views Mark. It opens with some insights from the life and work of Hubert Harrison.

Please take time to watch the video, to share it with friends, and to call the work of Theodore W. Allen and Hubert Harrison to the attention of others.

Theodore W. Allen’s “Invention of the White Race” has been referred to as a “classic” by historians Nell Painter, Gerald Horne, Wilson J. Moses, and Gregory Meyerson and by social anthropologist Audrey Smedley.

Labor historian Joe Berry says it “is one of the most important books of U.S history ever written.”

Historian Mark Solomon of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University, says, “The profound insights in ‘The Invention of the White Race’ are essential both to understand the origins and destructiveness of white supremacy and to provide the means to conduct struggle against it. Allen’s study is mandatory reading for everyone concerned with justice, equality and the liberation of all from the binds of white supremacy.”

Long time activist Carl Davidson emphasizes that “You simply can’t understand America and who we are without this [“The Invention of the White Race”] book.”

Special thanks to those who contributed to the book launch event that was the basis of this video on Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” – including filmmaker Fred Nguyen; Muriel Tillinghast and Sean Ahern of “The Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen Society”; Kazembe Balagun, Max Uhlenbeck, and Liz Mestres of the Brecht Forum; and Jessica Turner of Verso Books.

A second video on “The Invention of White Race,” recently filmed at a “multi-racial” worker organizing conference in Greensboro, NC, has exceptionally clear slides and is also attracting increased attention – see HERE Special thanks to organizer Ben Wilkins, who coordinated the two-day conference, and to Eric Preston (and Fusion Films) for work on the video.

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 “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 “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” Part 1 see HERE and for Part 2 see HERE

For additional writings by and about Theodore W. Allen 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
or at “Cultural Logic” at HERE

For a video interview with Theodore W. Allen on “The Invention of the White Race” conducted by New York City schoolteacher Stella Winston and viewed by over 105,000 people see HERE

For information on “Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918” (Columbia University Press, 2008) see HERE

For information on “A Hubert Harrison Reader” (Wesleyan University Press, 2001) see HERE

For information on Hubert H. Harrison, “When Africa Awakes: The ‘Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World,” New Expanded Edition (Diasporic Africa Press, 2015) see HERE

For a video on Hubert Harrison based on a presentation at the Dudley Public Library in Roxbury, Massachusetts – see -- HERE
Special thanks to Mimi Jones, Friends of the Dudley Library, Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, Massachusetts Global Action. Mirna Lascano, Umang Kumar, and Charlie Welch for making the event possible and to Boston Neighborhood News TV's "Around Town" -- Channel: Comcast 9 / RCN 15 -- Justin D. Shannahan, Production Manager, Ted Lewis, cameraman, and Laura Kerivan, copy editor, Nia Grace (Marketing and Promotions Manager), and Scott Mercer for helping to make the video available.

For a recent video on Hubert Harrison done at the St. Croix Landmarks Society, Estate Whim, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – see Read More 
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Twelve Years Ago on January 19, 2005 Theodore W. Allen Died Learn From His Work Keep His Memory Alive!

Theodore W. Allen
(1919-2005)
Twelve years ago, on January 19, 2005, Theodore W. Allen died at age 85 in Brooklyn, NY after a fifteen-year battle with cancer.

Allen, one of the twentieth century’s most important writers on class and race, and the struggle against white supremacy, pioneered his class struggle based analysis of “white skin privilege” in 1965 and offered seminal writings on class struggle, white supremacy, and racial oppression such as “Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race” ([1974; SUNY Center for the Study of Working Class Life, 2006) and the two-volume “classic” “The Invention of the White Race” (1994, 1997; Verso Books, 2012), Vol. I “Racial Oppression and Social Control” and Vol. II: ”The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America.”

After his death his ashes (as per his request), were spread over that area "three miles up country" from West Point, Virginia where the "foure hundred English and Negroes in Arms" demanded their freedom in Bacon’s Rebellion (1676-77).

Shortly thereafter, an “In Memorium: Theodore W. Allen” Tribute was published online at HERE

Writings, videos, and audios by and about Theodore W. Allen are available at HERE

For a presentation viewed by over 104,000 people on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race,” at the Brecht Forum in New York see HERE

For a recent presentation on “Theodore W. Allen and ‘The Invention of the White Race’” at a “Multiracial Organizing Conference” in Greensboro, NC see
HERE

For the fullest treatment of the development of Allen’s thought 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,”
Cultural Logic 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) see HERE

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 HERE

For some background information on how the U.S. Census uses “race” in regard to “Hispanics” see Theodore W. Allen’ "’Race’ and ‘Ethnicity’: History and the 2000 Census” at HERE

For Allen’s important review on “Roediger’s ‘Wages of Whiteness’” see HERE

People are encourage to become familiar with the work of Theodore W. Allen and to share this information with others as we continue to struggle for a better world. Read More 
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104,000 VIEWS This Video on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race” Has Just Passed the 104,000-Views Mark Please View and Share It!






104,000 VIEWS
This Video on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race”
Has Just Passed the 104,000-Views Mark.


104,000 VIEWS -- This Video on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race” Has Just Passed the 104,000-Views Mark. It opens with some insights from the life and work of Hubert Harrison.

Please take time to watch the video, to share it with friends, and to call the work of Theodore W. Allen and Hubert Harrison to the attention of others.

Theodore W. Allen’s “Invention of the White Race” has been referred to as a “classic” by historians Nell Painter, Gerald Horne, Wilson J. Moses, and Gregory Meyerson and by social anthropologist Audrey Smedley.

Labor historian Joe Berry says it “is one of the most important books of U.S history ever written.”

Historian Mark Solomon of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University, says, “The profound insights in ‘The Invention of the White Race’ are essential both to understand the origins and destructiveness of white supremacy and to provide the means to conduct struggle against it. Allen’s study is mandatory reading for everyone concerned with justice, equality and the liberation of all from the binds of white supremacy.”

Long time activist Carl Davidson emphasizes that “You simply can’t understand America and who we are without this [“The Invention of the White Race”] book.”

Special thanks to those who contributed to the book launch event that was the basis of this video on Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” – including filmmaker Fred Nguyen; Muriel Tillinghast and Sean Ahern of “The Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen Society”; Kazembe Balagun, Max Uhlenbeck, and Liz Mestres of the Brecht Forum; and Jessica Turner of Verso Books.

A second video on “The Invention of White Race,” recently filmed at a “multi-racial” worker organizing conference in Greensboro, NC, has exceptionally clear slides and is also attracting increased attention – see HERE Special thanks to organizer Ben Wilkins, who coordinated the two-day conference, and to Eric Preston (and Fusion Films) for work on the video.

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 “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 “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” Part 1 see HERE and for Part 2 see HERE

For additional writings by and about Theodore W. Allen 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
or at “Cultural Logic” at HERE

For a video interview with Theodore W. Allen on “The Invention of the White Race” conducted by New York City schoolteacher Stella Winston and viewed by over 105,000 people see HERE

For information on “Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918” (Columbia University Press, 2008) see HERE

For information on “A Hubert Harrison Reader” (Wesleyan University Press, 2001) see HERE

For information on Hubert H. Harrison, “When Africa Awakes: The ‘Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World,” New Expanded Edition (Diasporic Africa Press, 2015) see HERE

For a video on Hubert Harrison based on a presentation at the Dudley Public Library in Roxbury, Massachusetts – see -- HERE
Special thanks to Mimi Jones, Friends of the Dudley Library, Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, Massachusetts Global Action. Mirna Lascano, Umang Kumar, and Charlie Welch for making the event possible and to Boston Neighborhood News TV's "Around Town" -- Channel: Comcast 9 / RCN 15 -- Justin D. Shannahan, Production Manager, Ted Lewis, cameraman, and Laura Kerivan, copy editor, Nia Grace (Marketing and Promotions Manager), and Scott Mercer for helping to make the video available.

For a recent video on Hubert Harrison done at the St. Croix Landmarks Society, Estate Whim, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – see Read More 
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“The Invention of the White Race” Volume 1: “Racial Oppression and Social Control” by Theodore W. Allen Special Sale for 50% Off

“The Invention of the White Race,” Volume 1: “Racial Oppression and Social Control” by Theodore W. Allen is available in a Special Sale for 50% off, with bundled e-book and free shipping from Verso Books till January 1, 2017. This new expanded edition has an internal study guide, a new editor’s introduction, and supplemental notes that are ideal for classroom and/or study group use. See 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 2) the consequences were not only ruinous to the interests of African-Americans, they were also “disastrous” for European-American workers, whose class interests differed fundamentally from those of the ruling elite.

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.

A major purpose for his writing Volume I was to lay the conceptual groundwork for Volume II free of what he refers to as the “White Blindspot” -- the hindered vision caused by the “historically omnipresent factor of white supremacism in United States history” that W. E. B. Du Bois “warned us about in Black Reconstruction.” To work free of that blindspot Allen uses the approach in Volume I of “looking into an Irish mirror for insights into the nature of racial oppression and its implication for ruling-class social control in the United States.”

Allen begins his wide-ranging first volume by offering a critical examination of the two main historiographical positions on the slavery and racism debate. He addresses and strongly criticizes the psycho-cultural approach, and he seeks to free the socio-economic approach from certain weaknesses. He then proceeds, using that “mirror of Irish history,” to develop a definition of racial oppression in terms of social control; a definition that is “free of the howling absurdities of ‘phenotype,’ or classification by complexion.” In the process Allen offers compelling analogies between the oppression of the Irish in Ireland (under Anglo-Norman rule and under “Protestant Ascendancy”) and white supremacist oppression of African Americans and Indians. He also shows the relativity of race by examining the sea-change in which Irish haters of racial oppression in Ireland were transformed into “white American” defenders of racial slavery and racial oppression.

In the course of his treatment Allen emphasizes that maximizing profit and maintaining social control are two priority tasks of the ruling class. He also offers a comparison of the different outcomes of “Catholic Emancipation” (outside of Ulster) in Ireland and “Negro Emancipation” in America. The difference centers upon what group is the key component incorporated into the ruling class’s intermediate social control stratum to serve its interests. In Ireland (outside of Ulster) it was the Catholic bourgeoisie, in the United States it was the “white race,” composed primarily of laboring people who were not promoted out of their class. The first outcome, in which members of the oppressed group are incorporated into the social control stratum, he describes as national oppression. The second outcome, in which members of the oppressed group are excluded from the social control stratum and denied normal class mobility, he describes as racial oppression.

In discussing the topics of this volume’s subtitle, Racial Oppression and Social Control, Allen emphasizes that racial oppression is one form of ruling class response to the problem of social control; national oppression is another. . . .

With stunning international and domestic examples Allen shows how racial oppression (particularly in the form of religio-racial oppression) was developed and maintained by the phenotypically-similar British against the Irish Catholics in Ireland; how the phenotypically-similar Anglo bourgeoisie established national oppression in the Anglo-Caribbean and racial oppression in the continental Anglo-American plantation colonies; how racial oppression was transformed into national oppression due to ruling class social control needs in Ireland (while racial oppression was maintained in Ulster); how the same people who were victims of racial oppression in Ireland became “white American” defenders of racial oppression; and how in America racial oppression took the form of racial slavery, yet when racial slavery ended racial oppression remained and was re-constituted in new form.

For a Table of Contents and comments by scholars and activists see HERE

For a slide presentation/talk viewed by over 103,000 people on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race,” at the Brecht Forum in New York see HERE

For a recent presentation on “Theodore W. Allen and ‘The Invention of the White Race’” at a “Multiracial Organizing Conference” in Greensboro, NC see HERE

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“The Invention of the White Race” Volume 2: “The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America” by Theodore W. Allen Special Sale for 50% Off

“The Invention of the White Race,” Volume 2: “The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America” by Theodore W. Allen is available in a Special Sale for 50% off, with bundled e-book and free shipping from Verso Books till January 1, 2017. This new expanded edition has an internal study guide, a new editor’s introduction, and supplemental notes that are ideal for classroom and/or study group use. See HERE

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.”

With its meticulous primary research, equalitarian motif, emphasis on the class struggle dimension of history, and groundbreaking analysis The Invention of the White Race is a recognized classic. Allen felt that its theory on the origin and nature of the “white race” contains the root of a new and radical approach to United States history. Readers will find that it has profound implications for American History, African-American History, Labor History, American Studies, and “Whiteness” Studies and that it offers important insights in the areas of Caribbean History, Irish History, and African Diaspora Studies. Its influence will continue to grow in the twenty-first century.

For a Table of Contents and comments by scholars and activists see HERE

For a slide presentation/talk viewed by over 103,000 people on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race,” at the Brecht Forum in New York see HERE

For a recent presentation on “Theodore W. Allen and ‘The Invention of the White Race’” at a “Multiracial Organizing Conference” in Greensboro, NC see HERE

 Read More 
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100,000 VIEWS This Video on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race” Has Just Passed the 100,000-Views Mark Please View and Share It!






100,000 VIEWS
This Video on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race”
Has Just Passed the 100,000-Views Mark.


100,000 VIEWS -- This Video on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race” Has Just Passed the 100,000-Views Mark. It opens with some insights from the life and work of Hubert Harrison.

Please take time to watch the video, to share it with friends, and to call the work of Theodore W. Allen and Hubert Harrison to the attention of others.

Theodore W. Allen’s “Invention of the White Race” has been referred to as a “classic” by historians Nell Painter, Gerald Horne, Wilson J. Moses, and Gregory Meyerson and by social anthropologist Audrey Smedley.

Labor historian Joe Berry says it “is one of the most important books of U.S history ever written.”

Historian Mark Solomon of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University, says, “The profound insights in ‘The Invention of the White Race’ are essential both to understand the origins and destructiveness of white supremacy and to provide the means to conduct struggle against it. Allen’s study is mandatory reading for everyone concerned with justice, equality and the liberation of all from the binds of white supremacy.”

Long time activist Carl Davidson emphasizes that “You simply can’t understand America and who we are without this [“The Invention of the White Race”] book.”

Special thanks to those who contributed to the book launch event that was the basis of this video on Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” – including filmmaker Fred Nguyen; Muriel Tillinghast and Sean Ahern of “The Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen Society”; Kazembe Balagun, Max Uhlenbeck, and Liz Mestres of the Brecht Forum; and Jessica Turner of Verso Books.

A second video on “The Invention of White Race,” recently filmed at a “multi-racial” worker organizing conference in Greensboro, NC, has exceptionally clear slides and is also attracting increased attention – see HERE Special thanks to organizer Ben Wilkins, who coordinated the two-day conference, and to Eric Preston (and Fusion Films) for work on the video.

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 “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 “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” Part 1 see HERE and for Part 2 see HERE

For additional writings by and about Theodore W. Allen 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
or at “Cultural Logic” at HERE

For a video interview with Theodore W. Allen on “The Invention of the White Race” conducted by New York City schoolteacher Stella Winston and viewed by over 105,000 people see HERE

For information on “Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918” (Columbia University Press, 2008) see HERE

For information on “A Hubert Harrison Reader” (Wesleyan University Press, 2001) see HERE

For information on Hubert H. Harrison, “When Africa Awakes: The ‘Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World,” New Expanded Edition (Diasporic Africa Press, 2015) see HERE

For a video on Hubert Harrison based on a presentation at the Dudley Public Library in Roxbury, Massachusetts – see -- HERE
Special thanks to Mimi Jones, Friends of the Dudley Library, Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, Massachusetts Global Action. Mirna Lascano, Umang Kumar, and Charlie Welch for making the event possible and to Boston Neighborhood News TV's "Around Town" -- Channel: Comcast 9 / RCN 15 -- Justin D. Shannahan, Production Manager, Ted Lewis, cameraman, and Laura Kerivan, copy editor, Nia Grace (Marketing and Promotions Manager), and Scott Mercer for helping to make the video available.

For a recent video on Hubert Harrison done at the St. Croix Landmarks Society, Estate Whim, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – see Read More 
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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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