White By Law

The Legal Construction of Race
Ian Haney López
ISBN 0814736947

From the website:

White by Law remains the definitive work on how American law constructed a ‘white’ race at the turn of the twentieth century. Haney López has added a chapter to the new edition, a sobering analysis of how, in our own time, ‘colorblind’ law and policy threaten to perpetuate, not eliminate, racial inequality. A must-read.
—Mae M. Ngai, author of Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America

Quotations from the book on Macon D.’s blog:

After 1870, Blacks as well as Whites could naturalize, but not others. . . . from 1870 until the last of the prerequisite laws were abolished in 1952, the White-Black dichotomy in American race relations dominated naturalization law. During this period, Whites and Blacks were eligible for citizenship, but others, particularly those from Asia, were not. Indeed, increasing antipathy toward Asians on the West Coast resulted in an explicit disqualification of Chinese persons from naturalization in 1882. . . .

In 1935, Hitler’s Germany limited citizenship to members of the Aryan race, making Germany the only country other than the United States with a racial restriction on naturalization. The fact of this bad company was not lost on those administering our naturalization laws.


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