White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race

Ian F. Haney Lopez, Author, Ian F. Haney-Lopez, Author New York University Press $65 (296p) ISBN 978-0-8147-5099-5
In this study, narrowly academic yet intriguing, Lopez, who teaches law at the University of Wisconsin, examines early-20th-century cases in which courts sought to determine who qualified as white for the purposes of citizenship and naturalization. His conclusion: whiteness is ``a complex, falsely homogenizing term.'' For example, he shows how courts issued contradictory decisions regarding the whiteness of groups such as Syrians, Armenians and Asian Indians; some followed scientific evidence, while most ultimately relied on ``common knowledge,'' thus finding many reasons--including culture and political sophistication--to reject foreigners who might be Caucasian. This leads the author to argue, a bit thinly, that whites must pursue a ``self-deconstructive'' race consciousness to pursue racial justice. Thus, whites must recognize the racial aspects of their privileged identity and daily engage in ``choosing against Whiteness''; one example would be to resist racist slurs, even to the point of claiming a nonwhite racial identity when hearing them. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1996
Release date: 01/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-0-8147-5137-4
Open Ebook - 301 pages - 978-0-585-02460-8
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