Quiet as its Kept: Passing Subjects, Contested Identities

Posted in Forthcoming Media, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Live Events, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2019-02-24 03:38Z by Steven

Quiet as its Kept: Passing Subjects, Contested Identities

Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, New York
Friday, 2019-04-05 through Sunday, 2019-04-07

Passing Beyond Passing

The phrase “passing for white” first appears in advertisements for the return of runaway slaves. Abolitionist fiction later adopts the phenomenon of racial passing (together with the figure of the “white slave”) as a major literary theme. The term continued to enjoy currency in literature in the postbellum era and during the Harlem Renaissance. Today, “passing” has various manifestations and applications. Not limited to race, the term may indicate subversions of gender, sexuality, religion, ability and class, among other identity coordinates.

This conference responds to renewed interest in passing that derives from the popularity of genetic genealogy tests, sensational cases of racial fraud (i.e., Rachel Dolezal), the idea of “realness” appropriated from ball culture, racial ambiguity in a surveillance state, public fascination with celebrities like Meghan Markle, and the construction (and manipulation) of online identities (i.e., catfishing and blackfishing). Interdisciplinary perspectives on passing, miscegenation, authenticity, sexuality, kinship, and racial ambiguity in the arts, law, memory, popular culture, and the racial state are invited. Themes may include betrayal, secrecy, dissimulation, subjectivity, masquerade, visibility/invisibility, surveillance, fraud, and belonging.

At Vassar College, interest in this topic has reemerged since the publication of Karin Tanabe’s novel The Gilded Years (2016), about Anita Hemmings’ experience as the first black woman known to attend the College. In 1900, poet, novelist, lyricist Paul Laurence Dunbar modeled one of his musical characters (Parthenia Jenkins in Uncle Eph’s Christmas) after Anita Hemmings. By placing a character with Hemmings’ stature in a farce, Dunbar lampoons class / caste based distinctions. More importantly, he associates Hemmings – a racial performer celebrated for her respectability – with less-respected, equally assertive performers of race. Hemmings’s story is currently being adapted into a film, A White Lie, starring Zendaya and produced by Reese Witherspoon and Zendaya. This conference provides an opportunity to reflect on Hemmings’ experience – and those of other black women – who integrated women’s colleges.

This conference is also an occasion to rethink identity categories that have long been naturalized or taken for granted. From critical race theorists, sociologists, and social psychologists like Cheryl I. Harris, George Lipsitz, and Claude Steele to labor historians and feminist scholars such as David Roediger and Ruth Frankenberg, many intellectuals have examined whiteness as a social formation to which disparate ethnic groups (i.e., Jewish, Italian, and Irish) have assimilated. This conference (and concomitant art show at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center) can facilitate careful rethinking of assumptions about identity formations and affiliations. All are welcome.

For more information, click here.

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MSU faculty contribute to book on white privilege

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2016-07-09 14:46Z by Steven

MSU faculty contribute to book on white privilege

Mississippi State University
2016-07-01

Contact: Allison Matthews

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Two Mississippi State faculty members helped lead a literary effort examining the basis and scope of racial identity as an American social structure.

Stephen Middleton, professor of history and director for African American Studies at MSU, along with associate professor of English and African American Studies Donald Shaffer, served on the editing team for “The Construction of Whiteness: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Race Formation and the Meaning of a White Identity.” A University Press of Mississippi publication, the collection of essays specifically looks at the origins of white privilege and the various social, cultural, political and economic practices that underwrite its ideological influence in American society. David Roediger of the University of Kansas also was co-editor.

“This book explores an old story in American culture,” said Middleton, the project’s lead editor. “It reviews a time when we thought about ourselves in certain ways, and the two categories that defined us more than any other were ‘white’ and ‘black.’ It’s an old story of what we’ve learned about our history and what we tell ourselves.”

“Whiteness” is a socially and legally constructed category, Middleton said, woven into the American psyche over time based on the need for cheap labor. This established a power and economic structure favorable to whites that socially and legally denied access to non-whites…

Read the entire article here.

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The Construction of Whiteness: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Race Formation and the Meaning of a White Identity

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Communications/Media Studies, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2016-05-19 01:38Z by Steven

The Construction of Whiteness: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Race Formation and the Meaning of a White Identity

University Press of Mississippi
April 2016
256 pages (approx.)
6 x 9 inches
introduction, 8 b&w illustrations, bibliography, index
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496805553

Edited By:

Stephen Middleton, Professor of History and Director of African American
Mississippi State University

David R. Roediger, Foundation Professor of American Studies and History
University of Kansas

Donald M. Shaffer, Associate Professor of African American Studies and English
Mississippi State University

A critical engagement with the origins, power, and elusiveness of white privilege

Contributions by Sadhana Bery, Erica Cooper, Tim Engles, Matthew W. Hughey, Becky Thompson, Veronica T. Watson, and Robert St. Martin Westley

This volume collects interdisciplinary essays that examine the crucial intersection between whiteness as a privileged racial category and the various material practices (social, cultural, political, and economic) that undergird white ideological influence in America. In truth, the need to examine whiteness as a problem has rarely been grasped outside academic circles. The ubiquity of whiteness–its pervasive quality as an ideal that is at once omnipresent and invisible–makes it the very epitome of the mainstream in America. And yet the undeniable relationship between whiteness and inequality in this country necessitates a thorough interrogation of its formation, its representation, and its reproduction. Essays here seek to do just that work. Editors and contributors interrogate whiteness as a social construct, revealing the underpinnings of narratives that foster white skin as an ideal of beauty, intelligence, and power.

Contributors examine whiteness from several disciplinary perspectives, including history, communication, law, sociology, and literature. Its breadth and depth makes The Construction of Whiteness a refined introduction to the critical study of race for a new generation of scholars, undergraduates, and graduate students. Moreover, the interdisciplinary approach of the collection will appeal to scholars in African and African American studies, ethnic studies, cultural studies, legal studies, and more. This collection delivers an important contribution to the field of whiteness studies in its multifaceted impact on American history and culture.

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The complicity cost of racial inclusion

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-08-30 20:50Z by Steven

The complicity cost of racial inclusion

Al Jazeera America
2014-08-24

Julia Carrie Wong
Oakland, California

When Brook Soso, a new Asian-American character in the second season of “Orange Is the New Black,” arrives at the federal prison in Litchfield, New York, a fellow inmate named Lorna Morello provides her with a toothbrush and bar of soap. Morello, who is white, is an enforcer of the strict racial divisions (black, Latina, white and other) that define the show’s social landscape — “it’s tribal, not racist,” she explained in the first season — but here she makes an exception. “I don’t normally bend the rules like this,” she says, “but you don’t look full … Asian.”

Morello turns out to be right — Soso is half Scottish — but Soso’s arms-length adoption by white prisoners such as Morello is in many ways still evocative of the shifting position Asian-Americans hold in the United States today. Being Asian and being white are becoming less and less mutually exclusive and the boundary between them (particularly in arenas such as work and education) increasingly porous. But the induction of Asian-Americans into whiteness doesn’t alter the meaning of whiteness; rather, it’s a reminder that whiteness has never been defined by a person’s country of origin or genetic makeup. It’s simply a tool, one that can continue to operate even with the inclusion of certain minority groups…

…It may be disconcerting for some people to recognize that the boundaries of whiteness can shift. The ubiquitous boxes we check on applications and census materials might lead us to believe that race is determinate. But race is a social construct, not a scientific fact: American whiteness was an ideological creation to rationalize the enslavement of Africans and the extermination of native peoples. As David Roediger argued in “The Wages of Whiteness,” racial antagonisms helped solidify 19th century American class structure. In subsequent generations, whiteness was expanded to meet the needs of our changing population and the U.S.’s imperial interests abroad. Throughout our country’s history, special privileges (such as voting and land ownership) have been reserved for those who were considered white…

Read the entire article here.

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Race and the Obama Phenomenon: The Vision of a More Perfect Multiracial Union

Posted in Anthologies, Barack Obama, Books, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-07-25 04:22Z by Steven

Race and the Obama Phenomenon: The Vision of a More Perfect Multiracial Union

University Press of Mississippi
2014-07-17
432 pages
6 X 9 inches
3 B&W photographs
Hardcover ISBN: 9781628460216

Edited by:

G. Reginald Daniel, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Santa Barbara

Hettie V. Williams, Lecturer of African American History
Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Essays that explore how the first black president connects to the past and reimagines national racial and political horizons

The concept of a more perfect union remains a constant theme in the political rhetoric of Barack Obama. From his now historic race speech to his second victory speech delivered on November 7, 2012, that striving is evident. “Tonight, more than two hundred years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward,” stated the forty-fourth president of the United States upon securing a second term in office after a hard fought political contest. Obama borrows this rhetoric from the founding documents of the United States set forth in the U.S. Constitution and in Abraham Lincoln’sGettysburg Address.”

How naive or realistic is Obama’s vision of a more perfect American union that brings together people across racial, class, and political lines? How can this vision of a more inclusive America be realized in a society that remains racist at its core? These essays seek answers to these complicated questions by examining the 2008 and 2012 elections as well as the events of President Obama’s first term. Written by preeminent race scholars from multiple disciplines, the volume brings together competing perspectives on race, gender, and the historic significance of Obama’s election and reelection. The president heralded in his November, 2012, acceptance speech, “The idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like . . . . whether you’re black or white, Hispanic or Asian or Native American.” These essayists argue the truth of that statement and assess whether America has made any progress toward that vision.

Contributions by Lisa Anderson-Levy, Heidi Ardizzone, Karanja Keita Carroll, Greg Carter, Frank Rudy Cooper, Marhsa J. Tyson Darling, Tessa Ditonto, David Frank, Amy L. Heyse, David A. Hollinger, George Lipsitz, Mark McPhail, Tavia Nyong’o, David Roediger, Paul Spickard, Janet Mendoza Stickman, Paul Street, Ebony Utley, Ronald Waters

Contents

  • Preface / Hettie V. Williams and G. Reginald Daniel
  • Foreword: Race Will Survive the Obama Phenomenon / David Roediger
  • Introduction: Understanding Obama and Ourselves / George Lipsitz
  • Part I: Race, Obama, and Multiraciality
    • 1. Race and Multiraciality: From Barack Obama to Trayvon Martin / G. Reginald Daniel
    • 2. By Casta, Color Wheel, and Computer Graphics: Visual Representations of Racially Mixed People / Greg Carter
    • 3. Barack Obama: Embracing Multiplicity—Being a Catalyst for Change / Janet Mendoza Stickmon
    • 4. In Pursuit of Self: The Identity of an American President and Cosmopolitanism / Hettie V. Williams
  • Part II: Obama, Blackness, and the “Post-Racial Idea”
    • 5. Barack Hussein Obama, or, the Name of the Father / Tavia Nyong’o
    • 6. The End(s) of Difference? Towards an Understanding of the “Post” in Post-Racial / Lisa Anderson-Levy
    • 7. On the Impossibilities of a Post-Racist America in the Obama Era / Karanja Keita Carroll
    • 8. Obama, the Instability of Color Lines, and the Promise of a Postethnic Future / David A. Hollinger
  • Part III: Race, Gender, and the Obama Phenomenon
    • 9. From Chattel to First Lady: Black Women Moving from the Margins / Marsha J. Tyson Darling
    • 10. The “Outsider” and the Presidency: Mediated Representations of Race and Gender in the 2008 Presidential Primaries / Tessa Ditonto
    • 11. Obama’s “Unisex” Campaign: Critical Race Theory Meets Masculinities Studies / Frank Rudy Cooper
    • 12. “Everything His Father Was Not”: Fatherhood and Father Figures in Barack Obama’s First Term / Heidi Ardizzone
  • Part IV: Race, Politics, and the Obama Phenomenon
    • 13. Barack Obama’s Address to the 2004 Democratic Convention: Trauma, Compromise, Consilience and the (Im)Possibility of Racial Reconciliation / David Frank and Mark Lawrence McPhail
    • 14. Barack Obama and the Politics of Blackness / Ronald W. Walters
    • 15. Barack Obama’s White Appeal and the Perverse Racial Politics of the Post-Civil Rights Era / Paul Street
    • 16. Barack Obama’s (Im)Perfect Union: An Analysis of the Strategic Successes and Failures in His Speech on Race / Ebony Utley and Amy L. Heyse
  • Epilogue: Obama, Race, and the 2012 Presidential Election / Paul Spickard
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Black/Non-Black Divide and The Anti-Blackness of Non-Black Minorities

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-07-01 01:19Z by Steven

Black/Non-Black Divide and The Anti-Blackness of Non-Black Minorities

Still Furious and Brave: Who’s Afraid of Persistent Blackness?
2013-04-03

Robert Reece
Department of Sociology
Duke University

Last week, an Asian-American fraternity at the University of California Irvine posted a parody of a music video featuring one of their members in blackface. Blackface has become the go-to type of public racism for many types of white people across the political spectrum, and the internet is overflowing with analyses of why it’s racist so I won’t bother with that here. My concern is that an Asian-American fraternity is the culprit this time and what that may mean as we enter an era where our racial boundaries may be shifting as dramatically as the racial demographics.

I’m certainly not surprised that an Asian-American fraternity harbors racial stereotypes, both about themselves and other minorities. White supremacy is partially rule by consent, with subordinate groups believing in their own pathology (I’m looking at you Bill Cosby), but I think this incident, in this moment, deserves much more attention.

Proclamations by demographers about the coming white minority are used by both liberals and conservatives to promise inevitable political change. Liberals discuss how minorities outnumbering whites will signal as intense power shift in politics that will usher in an unprecedented age of progress and liberalism, and conservatives fear that they will lose their country to the brown hoards resting just over the horizon. But sociologist George Yancey, in Who is White?, questions the very demographers claiming that a white minority is certain. Yancey argues that demographers cannot account for shifting racial boundaries when making their predictions. So while their raw numbers may be correct, their racial predictions are probably incorrect because racial categories are always changing…

…This is the phenomenon at play when an Asian American fraternity implicitly approves of an act of anti-black racism. And this isn’t an isolated incident of negative black attitudes. In Racism Without Racists, sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva presents survey results showing that Asian American political attitudes, including those regarding stereotypes of blacks, are very similar to those of whites. On some items, Asian Americans even demonstrated stronger anti-black attitudes than whites. In this way, they are following in the footsteps of other formerly marginalized groups who demonized blackness on their way to whiteness.

In The Wages of Whiteness, historian David Roediger chronicles how the newly immigrated Irish of the 19th century made a strategic decision to pit themselves against blacks despite their acknowledgement of a common oppressor. They essentially built their case for inclusion into whiteness on the back of their anti-black attitudes. Anti-black racism was the glue that bound white ethnics to whiteness, and it may serve a similar purpose as our current racial project progresses. In the case of the Irish, their attitudes eventually manifested in an emulation of whiteness, in committing mob violence against blacks. But in 2013, popular violence against blacks doesn’t come in the form of gruesome beatings in the streets (police brutality notwithstanding); it comes in the form of YouTube videos of fraternity boys in blackface that, just like the mob violence of the 19th century, goes unpunished by authorities.

Read the entire article here.

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Racing to Justice: Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society

Posted in Books, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Work, United States on 2012-08-20 21:58Z by Steven

Racing to Justice: Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society

Indiana University Press
2012-08-16
336 pages
6 x 9
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-253-00629-5

john a. powell, Professor of Law; Director Haas Diversity Research Center
University of California, Berkeley

Foreword by:

David R. Roediger, Kendrick Babcock Professor of History and African American Studies
University of Illinois

Renowned social justice advocate john a. powell persuasively argues that we have not achieved a post-racial society and that there is much work to do to redeem the American promise of inclusive democracy. Culled from a decade of writing about social justice and spirituality, these meditations on race, identity, and social policy provide an outline for laying claim to our shared humanity and a way toward healing ourselves and securing our future. Racing to Justice challenges us to replace attitudes and institutions that promote and perpetuate social suffering with those that foster relationships and a way of being that transcends disconnection and separation.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Moving Beyond the Isolated Self
  • I. Race and Racialization
    • 1. Post-Racialism or Targeted Universalism?
    • 2. The Colorblind Multiracial Dilemma: Racial Categories Reconsidered
    • 3. The Racing of American Society: Race Functioning as a Verb Before Signifying as a Noun
  • II. White Privilege
    • 4. Whites Will Be Whites: The Failure to Interrogate Racial Privilege
    • 5. White Innocence and the Courts: Jurisprudential Devices that Obscure Privilege
  • III. The Racialized Self
    • 6. Dreaming of a Self Beyond Whiteness and Isolation
    • 7. The Multiple Self: Implications for Law and Social Justice
  • IV. Engagement
    • 8. Lessons from Suffering: How Social Justice Informs Spirituality
  • Afterword
  • References
  • Index
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Racial Classification and History

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-12-18 02:20Z by Steven

Racial Classification and History

Routledge
1997-02-01
376 pages
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-8153-2602-1

Edited by

E. Nathaniel Gates (1955-2006)
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Yeshiva University

Explores the concept of “race”

The term “race,” which originally denoted genealogical or class identity, has in the comparatively brief span of 300 years taken on an entirely new meaning. In the wake of the Enlightenment it came to be applied to social groups. This ideological transformation coupled with a dogmatic insistence that the groups so designated were natural, and not socially created, gave birth to the modern notion of “races” as genetically distinct entities. The results of this view were the encoding of “race” and “racial” hierarchies in law, literature, and culture.

How “racial” categories facilitate social control

The articles in the series demonstrate that the classification of humans according to selected physical characteristics was an arbitrary decision that was not based on valid scientific method. They also examine the impact of colonialism on the propagation of the concept and note that “racial” categorization is a powerful social force that is often used to promote the interests of dominant social groups. Finally, the collection surveys how laws based on “race” have been enacted around the world to deny power to minority groups.

A multidisciplinary resource

This collection of outstanding articles brings multiple perspectives to bear on race theory and draws on a wider ranger of periodicals than even the largest library usually holds. Even if all the articles were available on campus, chances are that a student would have to track them down in several libraries and microfilm collections. Providing, of course, that no journals were reserved for graduate students, out for binding, or simply missing. This convenient set saves students substantial time and effort by making available all the key articles in one reliable source.

Table of Contents

  • Volume Introduction
  • The Crime of Color—Paul Finkelman
  • Reflections on the Comparative History and Sociology of Racism—George M. Fredrickson
  • The Italian, a Hindrance to White Solidarity in Louisiana, 1890-1898—George E. Cunningham
  • Cornerstone and Stumbling Block: Racial Classification and the Late Colonial State in Indonesia—C. Fasseur
  • Racial Restrictions in the Law of Citizenship—Ian Haney Lopez
  • The Prerequisite Cases—Ian Haney Lopez
  • Blackface Minstrelsy and Jacksonian Ideology—Alexander Saxton
  • Introduction: Historical Explanations of Racial Inequality—Alexander Saxton
  • Sexual Affronts and Racial Frontiers: European Identities and the Cultural Politics of Exclusion in Colonial Southeast Asia—Ann Stoler
  • Irish-American Workers and White Racial Formation in the Antebellum United States—David R. Roediger
  • The Race Question and Liberalism: Casuistries in American Constitutional Law—Stanford M. Lyman
  • Introduction: From the Social Construction of Race to the Abolition of Whiteness—David R. Roediger
  • Acknowledgments
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How Race Survived US History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2011-09-22 01:49Z by Steven

How Race Survived US History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon

Verso Books
October 2008
Hardback, 240 pages
Paperback, 272 pages
Hardback ISBN: 9781844672752
Paperback ISBN: 9781844674343

David R. Roediger, Foundation Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History
University of Kansas

An absorbing chronicle of the role of race in US history, by the foremost historian of race and labor.

In this absorbing chronicle of the role of race in US history, David R. Roediger explores how the idea of race was created and recreated from the 1600’s to the present day. From the late seventeenth century—the era in which DuBois located the emergence of “whiteness”—through the American revolution and the emancipatory Civil War, to the civil rights movement and the emergence of the American empire, How Race Survived US History reveals how race did far more than persist as an exception in a progressive national history. Roediger examines how race intersected all that was dynamic and progressive in US history, from democracy and economic development to migration and globalization.

Exploring the evidence that the USA will become a majority “non-white” nation in the next fifty years, this masterful account shows how race remains at the heart of American life in the twenty-first century.

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Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science on 2011-06-19 21:46Z by Steven

Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past

University of California Press
November 2003
332 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780520240704

David R. Roediger, Babcock Professor of History
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

David R. Roediger’s powerful book argues that in its political workings, its distribution of advantages, and its unspoken assumptions, the United States is a “still white” nation. Race is decidedly not over. The critical portraits of contemporary icons that lead off the book—Rush Limbaugh, Bill Clinton, O.J. Simpson, and Rudolph Giuliani—insist that continuities in white power and white identity are best understood by placing the recent past in historical context. Roediger illuminates that history in an incisive critique of the current scholarship on whiteness and an account of race-transcending radicalism exemplified by vanguards such as W.E.B. Du Bois and John Brown. He shows that, for all of its staying power, white supremacy in the United States has always been a pursuit rather than a completed project, that divisions among whites have mattered greatly, and that “nonwhite” alternatives have profoundly challenged the status quo.

Colored White reasons that, because race is a matter of culture and politics, racial oppression will not be solved by intermarriage or demographic shifts, but rather by political struggles that transform the meaning of race—especially its links to social and economic inequality. This landmark work considers the ways that changes in immigration patterns, the labor force, popular culture, and social movements make it possible—though far from inevitable—that the United States might overcome white supremacy in the twenty-first century. Roediger’s clear, lively prose and his extraordinary command of the literature make this one of the most original and generative contributions to the study of race and ethnicity in the United States in many decades.

Table of Contents

  • One: Still White
  • Two: Toward Nonwhite Histories
    • 6. Nonwhite Radicalism: Du Bois, John Brown, and Black Resistance
    • 7. White Slavery, Abolition, and Coalition: Languages of Race, Class, and Gender
    • 8. The Pursuit of Whiteness: Property, Terror, and Expansion, 1790–1860
    • 9. Inbetween Peoples: Race, Nationality, and the “New-Immigrant” Working Class (with James Barrett)
    • 10. Plotting against Eurocentrism: The 1929 Surrealist Map of the World
  • Three: The Past/Presence of Nonwhiteness
    • 11. What If Labor Were Not White and Male?
    • 12. Mumia Time or Sweeney Time?
    • 13. In Conclusion: Elvis, Wiggers, and Crossing Over to Nonwhiteness
  • Notes
  • Credits
  • Index
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