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

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.

Reviews

  • “A pithy little book ... Remind[s] us that whiteness was built over centuries on a foundation of deceit and confusion and disguised political imperatives.”
  • “Starred Review. This rousing, thought-provoking history illuminates the enveloping 400-year-old history of race in America, and the issues [Roediger] raises are as relevant as ever.”
  • “Scholars and activists will be able to rely upon this book for much needed historical perspective. Based heavily on an acute reading and insightful interpretation of a vast array of the secondary literature, this book is a worthy addition to Roediger's formidable oeuvre.”
  • How Race Survived US History synthesizes a vast secondary literature ... into a simple yet elegant analysis.”

Blog

  • Recharging the Batteries of Whiteness: Trump's New Racial Identity Politics

    This piece first appeared in Truthout.



    The US intellectual class has failed to understand the racism at the core of Trump's political project. The discussion is focused on two questions: Are Trump voters decent, salt-of-the-earth workers protesting their economic insecurity, or hate-filled Archie Bunkers? Are his transition appointments hateful bigots or mainstream conservatives?

    What both questions obscure is that white supremacy is a social and political system, not simply a matter of individual attitudes. It is sustained not by barroom bigots but by millions of daily acts of complicity on the part of ordinary people — in New York City and San Francisco as much as in Alabama, and among wealthy elites as much as the rural poor. As Frantz Fanon wrote: "A given society is racist, or it is not." Questioning whether one region or class is more racist than another is the product of people "incapable of straight thinking."

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  • Fighting Back Against the White Revolt


    January 2016 Trump Rally, Muscatine, IA. via Flickr

    On the left and within progressive movements there were two immediate responses to Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential elections. First, shock, frequently accompanied by despair. How could an openly racist, misogynist authoritarian — personally unstable to boot — be elected president? Second, anger with the Democrats for the sort of campaign that they waged. At that point, however, a division emerged around a third point: what, we asked, was the source of Trump’s victory? And, even more important, what are the strategic implications?

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  • The Sundown Town Vote in Wisconsin: Race-ing the Trump Victory

    This post first appeared in Counterpunch


    Janesville, Wisconsin. 

    Early in the evening during which Donald Trump’s election as president unfolded, I talked to a union activist friend in Wisconsin about something unrelated. In signing off, he said he expected to stay up late seeing if the Democrats regained a Senate seat in the state, Hillary Clinton’s victory being assured. A few hours later, it became clear that Donald Trump had instead carried Wisconsin by a razor-thin margin. Who, MSNBCers wondered, were these hidden Trump voters that delivered in Wisconsin one of the three Rust Belt victories paving Trump’s road to the White House.

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Other books by David R. Roediger