“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.”
(Written after searching through 885 county-years of Virginia’s colonial records)
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 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.
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.
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).
The Invention of the White Race (Verso Books) by Theodore W. Allen, especially Vol. II: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America. Slide Presentation/Talk by Jeffrey B. Perry hosted by The Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen Society on January 31, 2013, at the Brecht Forum in New York City.