White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South African History

White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South African History

White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South African History

White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South African History

Synopsis


"One of the most brilliant and successful studies in comparative history ever written...sheds new light on the entire sweep of American and South African history."--David Brion Davis,The New York Times Book Review.

Excerpt

The phrase "white supremacy" applies with particular force to the historical experience of two nations -- South Africa and the United States. As generally understood, white supremacy refers to the attitudes, ideologies, and policies associated with the rise of blatant forms of white or European dominance over "nonwhite" populations. In other words, it involves making invidious distinctions of a socially crucial kind that are based primarily, if not exclusively, on physical characteristics and ancestry. In its fully developed form, white supremacy means "color bars," "racial segregation," and the restriction of meaningful citizenship rights to a privileged group characterized by its light pigmentation. Few if any societies that are "multi-racial" in the sense that they include substantial diversities of physical type among their populations have been free from racial prejudice and discrimination. But white supremacy implies more than this. It suggests systematic and selfconscious efforts to make race or color a qualification for membership in the civil community. More than the other multi-racial societies resulting from the "expansion of Europe" that took place between the sixteenth century and the twentieth, South Africa and the United States (most obviously the southern United States during the era of slavery and segregation) have manifested over long periods of time a tendency to push the principle of differentiation by race to its logical outcome -- a kind of Herrenvolk society in which people of color . . .

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