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The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class

An original study of the formative years of working-class racism in the United States.

Combining classical Marxism, psychoanalysis, and the new labor history pioneered by E. P. Thompson and Herbert Gutman, David Roediger’s widely acclaimed book provides an original study of the formative years of working-class racism in the United States. This, he argues, cannot be explained simply with reference to economic advantage; rather, white working-class racism is underpinned by a complex series of psychological and ideological mechanisms that reinforce racial stereotypes, and thus help to forge the identities of white workers in opposition to Blacks.

In a new preface, Roediger reflects on the reception, influence, and critical response to The Wages of Whiteness, while Kathleen Cleaver’s insightful introduction hails the importance of a work that has become a classic.

Reviews

  • “The Celestine Prophecy of whiteness studies.”
  • “An extremely important and insightful book.”

Blog

  • Playing Oppression Against Class: the Neoliberal Legacy in the Age of Trump

    This post by Tithi Bhattacharya is adapted from a longer essay forthcoming in Cultural Dynamics.


    Trump and basketball coach Bobby Knight at an Indiana campaign appearance.

    The morning after Trump won, the Washington Post led with the story that the president elect had won 58 per cent of the White vote, outperforming “in majority-white areas." Similarly, the Guardian embellished on this bete noir of the “white working class”: Apparently it was the “angry” white working class that helped Trump to a “stunning win”.

    Undoubtedly sections of the white working class voted for Trump. The day after the election results, in an effort to document the moment, I spoke with a range of working class women in Indiana. Some of their comments on Trump capture the deep veins of contradiction that ran through sections of the US working class who voted for Trump.

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  • Fuck Trump Reading List

    The outrage, fear and depression after Trump’s inauguration is palpable everywhere. Trump’s first acts in office, moving to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, signing an anti-abortion Global Gag Rule, and reviving plans to build the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, signal that he will be as dangerous a leader as we expected. The 2.9 million people who marched around the country as part of the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st send an inspiring message that many are galvanized to fight Trump’s hateful policies. But this is the very beginning of what will be a long and painful fight.

    We must never give in to despondency and futility, rather we must learn from the revolutionary movements of history and mobilize together against Trump’s regime of oppression.

    We present this reading list as a useful starting point for anyone sharing in our overwhelming sense of anger and despair at our present crisis, and anyone looking for hope and inspiration in the resistance movements of the past and the organizing strategies of the present.

    Download our free ebook, The Anti-Inauguration: Building Resistance in the Trump Era, here.

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  • Trump and the Present Crisis

    This piece will appear in Salvage issue 4, which can be pre-ordered here



    Donald Trump’s election to the US Presidency produced shock and disbelief for liberals, progressives, and leftists around the world. Here, in the US, it has been accompanied by a collective nausea that refuses to pass. Even many who recognize the impoverished mythos of America’s democratic perfectibility and exceptionalism mourn the passing of something they never believed. That said, there is a tendency to over-read what an election means in a backward looking way. But elections do not provide us with a diagnostic of a country; they are voter mobilization projects (conducted, in the main, by elites). The interpretation of the results, their meaning and mandate, retains a character of political positioning, even score settling, after the fact. The desire to parse and explain what enabled the disastrous outcome of a Trump Presidency with Republican Party control of the US government is understandable. Most of the early analysis, however, neglects longer term accounting for how we got here, and thus contributes to our collective disorientation.

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Other books by David R. Roediger Introduction by Kathleen Cleaver Series edited by Mike Davis and Michael Sprinker