color line Essay example

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the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the editors of The Journal of
Interdisciplinary History

The Problem of the Color-Line
White Attitudes toward Black People by Angus Campbell; Mirror, Mirror: Identity, Race and
Protest in Jamaica by Rex M. Nettleford
Review by: Carl N. Degler
The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 3, No. 4 (Spring, 1973), pp. 757-762
Published by: The MIT Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/202694 .
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Journal of Interdisciplinary
History m:4 (Spring I973), 757-762.

Carl N. Degler

The Problem

of the Color-Line

WhiteAttitudes
Toward
BlackPeople.By Angus Campbell(Ann Arbor,
Institutefor SocialResearch,University of Michigan, I97I) 177 pp. n.p.
Mirror, Mirror: Identity, Race and Protest in Jamaica. By Rex M.
Nettleford (London,William Collinsand Sangster
Ltd., 1970)
[Jamaica]
256 pp. 1I.75
At the opening of this century,W. E. B. Du Bois proclaimedthat "the problem of the color-line" would be the centralissue of the twentieth century. His presciencehas certainlybeen demonstratedin the United
States, where the issue of race has dominated politics and society for almost a generation.Yet during most of the nineteenthand twentieth centuries, the question of race, which the world has long viewed as particularlyintractableand painful in the United States,has seemed a minor issuein the remainderof the New World. One could say that as the United Statesseemsto be confrontingracialproblemsmore directly and honestly, if not more effectively,than at any time in its history, the question of color is only just being raisedin the societiesto the south.
The explanationfor this seemingparadoxwould appearto derivefrom the shift in U.S. attitudesand practices.The racismof the United States has been most conspicuousbecauseit was translated into law-segregation-and restedupon a genetic definitionof the Negro. (The U.S., unlike the societies of Latin and CaribbeanAmerica, has no social place for the mulatto.) The presenceof a so-calledcastesystem in the United
States,unqualifiedby class,has made the racialattitudeand practicesof
Americansseem to be suigeneris-which, on one level, they are in the
New World. But the very uniquenessof the United Statescastesystem has obscured,both for whites and blacksof the United States,the color discriminationand prejudice found in the Caribbean and in Latin
America.Now that socialvaluesand the laws are no longer supporting segregationin the United States, the New World's patternsof color prejudice and discriminationare converging, as the Campbell and
Nettleford studiesmake evident.
Carl N. Degler is Professorof History at StanfordUniversity and the author of the
Pulitzer,Bancroft, and Beveridge prize-winningNeitherBlackNor White:Slaveryand
RaceRelations Brazilandthe UnitedStates(New York, I97I). in This content downloaded from 86.14.204.159 on Thu, 30 Jan 2014 13:13:37 PM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

758

| CARL N.

DEGLER

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