"It's more about power than race"
Regarding "Who's to say Jeb Bush isn't Hispanic?" (Other Views, April 9):
The writer raises the question of "Isn't 'Hispanic' partly a contrivance?" He then points out that regarding the Census, "Hispanics can call themselves white or black or something else." He is right on both counts.
The question arises, why do the decision-makers for the Census Bureau facilitate "Hispanics" being counted twice - as both Hispanic and as "white or black or something else?" One key to understanding the answer has to do with another contrivance - a political contrivance, the "white race," and with the question of ruling-class social control.
Theodore W. Allen in "The Invention of the White Race" writes: "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 60 years."
It is in the context of such findings that he offers his major thesis, that being that the "white race" was invented as a ruling class social control formation in response to labor solidarity as manifested in 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.
Today, when the gap between rich and poor is at record proportions and white supremacy mars the land, and when increasing numbers are realizing the need for social change, the powers that be are still interested in using the "white race" to maintain social control. One important aim of such political census-making, and of allowing "Hispanics" to be counted twice and to call themselves "white," is to enable the ruling powers to preserve the democratic gloss, if not of a "white" majority, then at least of a "white" plurality, in their efforts to maintain social control.
Jeffrey B. Perry Westwood, April 10