The Klu Klux Klan was formed in 1868; it was not the only such organization (he White Brotherhood, the Men of Justice, the Constitutional Union Guards and the Knights of the White Camelia).
Many of the first members were formerly part of the Confederate army.
Both African Americans and those who supported them were targets.
Congress responded with the Klu Klux Klan Act of 1871 which severely curtailed their activities.
After WWI the KKK resurged.
Inventing Whiteness 4
American Indian boarding schools (1879)
By 1879 there were two competing white American views concerning the “Indian problem” (the idea that Indians were in the way of the more advanced Euroamerican).
One solution that was often employed was genocide (ethnic cleansing) and is well represented by this quote, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” by General Sheridanof Civil War fame.
More well-meaning whites took the stance of ethnocide (kill the culture) and are represented by this quote by Capt. Richard C. Pratt (founder of the first American boarding school at Carlisle, PA), “Kill the Indian, save the man”.
The idea was to take the most vulnerable (children) and acculturate (forced cultural change, also called assimilation) them into white ways to avoid having their own people enculturate (teach one’s own culture) them into their “primitive” Indian ways.
The stories of emotional, physical and sexual abuse are widespread. Some children ran away, others died during hunger strikes.
At its height as many as 100 such schools were active. This practice was not limited to the U.S. It was practiced in Canada, Australia, and South Africa, for instance.
The impact remains today..
Here is a YouTube.com post of a PSB documentary called “In the white man’s image”.
I have highlighted only a few of the timeline entries; each in and of itself deserves pages of lecture notes.
Inventing Whiteness 5
Early American white people observed (Nell Irvin Painter)
In 1790, among the interesting facts of the first US. Census: 1) non-free whites were not counted; white and free were not synonymous.
The early censuses were for the purpose of determining each state’s militia obligation.
White men and women were counted as full persons, all others were counted at 3/5th a person for slaves and indentured servants.
New categories were added to the census: 1800 (Indians), 1820 (“coloreds”), 1870 (Chinese).
“A white man’s world”
Eventually, the label “free white males” became unnecessary as they gained freedom and a new discussion was introduced: universal suffrage (economics were replaced by whiteness and maleness) as many previously disenfranchised poor white men and some while immigrant men gained the vote.
The pairing of “American” with “white” is traced to a Frenchman named Crèvecoeur who saw them as “new men” throwing off the yoke of Europe.
Yet he was appalled by the treatment of American slaves.
He saw America as split both by race and by class.
Another area in which there was disagreement between these two men was concerning who was white.
Crèvecoeur saw German immigrants as important to American success and as white.
Jefferson was an advocate of the Anglo-Saxon heritage view and saw his Saxon heritage as justification for his independence from Europe and did not see Germans in this light.
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“Caucasian” (Carol C. Mukhopadhyay)
Mukhopadhyay takes an ethnolinguistics approach to this term.
Ethnolinguistics suggests that that the way we see the world is influenced by the words we choose.
Remember the earlier discussion of marked/marked? The concepts of sociolinguistics (language in social settings) overlaps with ethnolinguistics (how use of different languages imply different ways of thinking).
She objects to the term Caucasian is it evokes racial science and also takes to who has culture and ethnicity.
Caucasians and 18th-20th century racial science
She remains us of the early discussion of how Blumenbach created racial groups based on skull shapes.
By the 1920s, the eugenicists had further split Caucasian label into “subraces”: Nordic, Alpine, Mediterranean, and Jews.
After the WWII the term Aryan was replaced with the seemingly neutral “Caucasian” and was seen as the same as “white” and European-Americans.
The names for other “macro-racial” groups also shifted to geographic, cultural political and linguistic labels (i.e.; African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and so forth) but Caucasian persists.
This author counted 56,000 uses of the term in scientific articles (mostly dating to 2000-2010).
It is used on her own campus by her colleagues.
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“Caucasian” (Carol C. Mukhopadhyay) (continued)
An empty category
This author reminds us that real Caucasians exist: they live in the Caucasus, but even they represent a myriad of language and culture groups (see the map at the bottom of this website link).
But, in the United States she asks us what meaning this label evokes? It is not a language, there is no U.S. Caucasian music or dancing, and so forth.
She goes on to remind us that:
There is ALSO no single identity for the other macro-racial groups (i.e.; African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and so forth) either.
The diversity represented by each of these macro-racial groups is masked by the labels.
On the U.S. census ONLY the category “white” is not linked to a geographic-cultural-political reference. This implies that whites are a homogenous, stable, fixed and biologically distinct entity.
“Real” versus hyphenated Americans
The use of Caucasian implies a special relationship for this group in America. All other Americans have to add an additional modifier (African, Asian and so forth) to American.
Also perpetuates the equating of Caucasian those of European descent (American food versus ethnic food).
This one always bugged me. All food is ethnic!
But when I went to find a grocery store example on the Internet it did not come up!
Who has “ethnicity”, “culture”, and an “ethnic identity”?