[Marxism] Roediger and Zweig: an exchange on race and class

Rakesh Bhandari bhandari at berkeley.edu
Wed Dec 13 10:50:40 MST 2006


Michael,
much thanks for writing this up:

>Zweig states. Zwig, who correctly notes that
>Latinas/os labeled as "white" are disproportionately poor, can't seriously
>be implying that Hispanics (light-skinned or not) are not subject to
>racism, can he? But, if he isn't then he must recognize that not
>"analysts," but a racist social order are objectively denying Hispanics
>the status of "white," and that his statistical manipulation is but a
>shell-game. He, in effect, reverses cause and effect. One question he
>might ask himself is that, given real acknowledged patterns of oppression
>faced by Latinas/os, why do some "self-identify" as white? Could it have
>something to do with the aforementioned negative portrayals of Latinos and
>Blacks? Could it have something to do with real inequality, which is then
>ATTRIBUTED to some defficiencies on the part of the oppressed? Could it
>have something to do with one's aspirations in this racist society for
>one's children?

The racial classification of Mexican Americans alone is a study in 
American insanity. It has gone from  white after the Treaty of 
Guadalupe Hidalgo (they had to be white if they were to have 
citizenship which is a concession the Mexican govt won) to non white 
especially as the former 'hispanic' elite was disempowered. Certainly 
some Mexicans did identify as white against their own indios and 
African roots to 'purchase' citizenship. So did Thind and Osawa, 
Indian and Japaense Americans in famous early twentieth century cases 
while agreeing with the justness of racial exclusion. And some 
Latinos in this country are emigrants from Latin countries which went 
through vicious whitening immigration policies at the turn of the 
century. So yes they are very serious about being white.

Yet  Zweig could certainly be saying that the fundamental problems 
poor Latinos now face is the rigidity of the class structure, the 
declining conditions of work for those who do work especially in so 
called unskilled jobs, the cuts in the social wage--all of which may 
not find their fundamental impetus in racism.

These turns may find their fundamental impetus in racism, but this 
has to be argued, no?

Yours, Rakesh

ps Nestor, please send me your paper


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