How Jews Became White Folks: And What That Says About Race in America

Karen Brod­kin
  • From the Publisher
October 11, 2011

The his­to­ry of Jews in the Unit­ed States is one of racial change that pro­vides use­ful insights on race in Amer­i­ca. Pre­vail­ing clas­si­fi­ca­tions have some­times assigned Jews to the white race and at oth­er times have cre­at­ed an off-white racial des­ig­na­tion for them. Those changes in racial assign­ment have shaped the ways Amer­i­can Jews of dif­fer­ent eras have con­struct­ed their eth­no­ra­cial iden­ti­ties. Brod­kin illus­trates these changes through an analy­sis of her own fam­i­ly’s multi­gen­er­a­tional expe­ri­ence. She shows how Jews expe­ri­ence a kind of dou­ble vision that comes from racial mid­dle­ness: on the one hand, mar­gin­al­i­ty with regard to white­ness; on the oth­er, white­ness and belong­ing with regard to blackness.

Discussion Questions