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Colored WhiteTranscending the Racial Past$
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David Roediger

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520233416

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520233416.001.0001

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Inbetween Peoples: Race, Nationality, and the “New-Immigrant” Working Class

Inbetween Peoples: Race, Nationality, and the “New-Immigrant” Working Class

Chapter:
(p.138) 9 Inbetween Peoples: Race, Nationality, and the “New-Immigrant” Working Class
Source:
Colored White
Author(s):

James Barrett

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520233416.003.0009

This chapter addresses the racial position of eastern and southern European immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, finding it to lie “inbetween” full whiteness and the fiercer oppressions inflicted on people of color. The development of racial awareness and attitudes and an increasingly racialized worldview among new immigrant workers themselves are described. The chapter also aims to destabilize modern categories of race and ethnicity and to capture the confusion, inbetween-ness, and flux in the minds of native-born Americans and the immigrants themselves. Americanization was never just about nation but was always about race and nation. “White men's unions” often seemed the best path from inbetween-ness to white manhood, but they also erected some of the most significant obstacles. The chapter then moves from the racial categorization of new immigrants to their own racial consciousness. Both “becoming American” and “becoming white” could imply coercive threats to European national identities.

Keywords:   inbetween-ness, European immigrants, Americanization, whiteness, racial awareness, immigrant workers, ethnicity, Americans

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