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Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and Its Relevance Today

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Birth of a White Nation is a fascinating new book on race in America that begins with an exploration of the moment in time when "white people," as a separate and distinct group of humanity, were invented through legislation and the enactment of laws. The book provides a thorough examination of the underlying reasons as well as the ways in which "white people" were created. It also explains how the creation of this distinction divided laborers and ultimately served the interests of the elite.

The book goes on to examine how foundational law and policy in the U.S. were used to institutionalize the practice of "white people" holding positions of power. Finally, the book demonstrates how the social construction and legal enactment of "white people" has ultimately compromised the humanity of those so labeled.

Jacqueline Battalora was born in Edinburg, Scotland and lived in Antwerp, Belgium for six years before her family relocated to Victoria, Texas. It was this experience of attending high school and middle school in Victoria that informed her understanding of race in America. While she is currently a lawyer and professor of sociology and criminal justice at Saint Xavier University, she is also a former Chicago Police officer. She holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University and has been engaged in anti-racist training since the mid-1990s. Publisher's website: http: //sbpra.com/JacquelineBattalora

154 pages, Paperback

First published February 27, 2013

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Jacqueline Battalora

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5 stars
52 (43%)
4 stars
35 (29%)
3 stars
23 (19%)
2 stars
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5 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 reviews
43 reviews
February 10, 2018

I think this book should be required reading for everyone in a position if leadership, whether in government, our school, our social service agencies, or our churches. Although the author’s style of writing is difficult to follow at times, the overall historical overview is clear and disturbing. If we are to understand the forces at work in our country today, we must understand the forces that shaped us.
Profile Image for Jocelyn.
648 reviews
July 29, 2017
A helpful review of US laws on immigration, citizenship, voting rights, property ownership, and marriage -- laws that reserved privileges for propertied Protestant men of English descent along with men who looked like them. Early on in the legislative process, these men designated themselves "white."

It's interesting to realize that the concept of a superior "white race" was in our linguistic currency until the Civil Rights movement. After that, the terminology went underground. The concept of "race" is now used with reference to people deemed not white. In media, political rhetoric, education, etc., "white" became tacitly equated with "normal." So, some people are normal. It's everybody else who has to deal with issues of race.
4 reviews
January 27, 2015
Important information on the way that "whiteness" was written into law early on in the U.S., bestowing clear and enduring privilege on some, while holding others on the outside. Delineates membership history within the category of "white," showing the arbitrary and power-mongering nature of those who created and perpetuate the use of "white" as a legitimate category (more covert today than in history, obviously).

Does a good job of addressing gender/race/class intersectional issues.
4 reviews
January 31, 2020
There are many ideas about what colonial life was like before America became a country. Dr. Barralora lays out an extensive legal history that shaped the sociological conditions of the time showing that the relationships between people of the time to be more complex than what we are told. People lived, loved, and worked together. An important event changed all of the that-Bacon's Rebellion. Because of this uprising the ruling class set out to implement a method of social control in order to keep the laboring class divided forever. The psychological method they invented after trial and error eventually created and evolved a class of people in a manner the world has never seen before. This class of people were called white, and it was an invention made by law that would forever divide peoples who otherwise had a common bond. This is the igniting spark that would run the engine of America enriching it beyond all other nations in what could be considered the greatest deal with the devil ever made.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
7 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2019
Excellent, I have been actively engaged in "We The People" for 6 years with the understanding of where it needs to go but lacking the knowledge to point it in the direction this book, with so much authority explained, for us as a people to go forward.

Excellent, I have been actively engaged in "We The People" for 6 years with the understanding of where it needs to go but lacking the knowledge to point it in the direction this book with so much authority explained for us as a people to go forward.
Profile Image for Dana Harris.
22 reviews
February 1, 2017
A critical and brief historical review of the invention of whiteness. A solid foundation for understanding the social construction of race in the United States: grounded in law, patriarchy, capitalism, nativism, and colonialism. The author's repetitiveness can be tough to take, but it also reiterated critical points in history that are so counter to what we are taught in school, it may be intentional. If you can stick with it, in spite of the repetition and some typos, your eyes will be opened.
58 reviews
November 13, 2019
Great book how in 17th century the laws cementing slavery were created. Turns out it took quite a while and several iterations of laws. If you think the British elites just took the existing British laws, you are wrong, there was American "innovation" involved. Also great summary of the history of how Mexicans were legally white but were not treated as white. Also how Irish imigrants became white, when at beginning they were not seen as such.
Profile Image for Rebekah Sanderlin.
13 reviews1 follower
April 23, 2019
A fascinating, disturbing, thought-provoking examination into how and why races were created in the U.S. Everyone should read this book. It provides a necessary pivot away from the mythologized version of America and toward a more inclusive, honest origin story.
1,599 reviews10 followers
June 26, 2014
Heard the author at the White Privilege conference. Enjoyed her talk and loved her book. Must read!!
Profile Image for Katrina.
Author 11 books31 followers
June 6, 2015
Same ideas as Thandeka's Learning to be White and Ignatiev's Race Traitor, but poorly argued. Redundant.
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15 reviews1 follower
October 21, 2018
Informative and powerful. It should be incorporated into educational curriculum throughout the United States.
Profile Image for Letecia.
284 reviews3 followers
March 19, 2019
An essential read for understanding and dismantling systemic racism in the USA.
56 reviews
September 4, 2021
To slog through Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and Its Relevance Today is to read a painfully long book report by a high school freshman, complete with errors in grammar, spelling, and above all, syntax. Author Jacqueline Battalora , the reader assumes, plans to make her argument on the supposed specific creation of Caucasian males into a 'white' race of dominant, deviant, and primitive womanizing racists !
One need look no further than the book's title to begin to appreciate the syntax nightmare of Birth of a White Nation. The title suggests the biological creation via 'Invention' of the Caucasian population, not, as was probably intended, the early seeding of racism between Caucasians and everyone else ! Battalora repeatedly states that the skin pigmentation genetically passed from one generation to another is somehow "not recognized in the natural world" and only in 17th century America did it begin to be identified as a defining difference socially. Such patently ridiculous arguments are further lost to logic by the author's incessant repeating of pertinent information to some abstract mental nonsense she is spewing being "in the next chapter" or "in future chapters', or "in the last chapter". I dare say I exercise no exaggeration when I claim that the preceding three 'chapter' references, if consolidated, would take the full space of 4-5 pages ! Battalora goes on to make a variety of claims concerning the planned creation of the 'white' race and it's perpetuation to this day without giving anymore than a single, usually vague, reference to some obscure fact.
Between the syntax oblivion of her thought process to the flagrant disregard of both common sense and scientific reality, Jacqueline Battalora would earn a 65 on this flotsam, and that gift would be in the interest of not having to read her rubbish again !
41 reviews1 follower
October 11, 2019
It was pretty redundant, but informative. I think chapter 5 and the afterword were the most helpful. However, I find her call to interpersonal action (rather than structural and legal action) inadequate. She spent the entirety of the book exploring the legal and structural support of white supremacy so therefore that’s where the dismantling needs to occur.
Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 reviews

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