Free «How Jews became White» Essay Sample

To unravel the theory behind the whitening of the Jews, Brodkin argues there is a strong bond between racial assignment and identity formation. The eastern European Jews in America were being referred to as non-white, and this limited their social and political status. Jewish organizations and their labor unions advocated for mutual benefit associations where the success of an individual member was considered success for the entire community (Brodkin, 1998). According to Brodkin, Jewish intellectuals fueled the process of whitening the Jews in the 1950s and 1960s. The Jewish intellectuals upheld the Jewish immigrant belief they had typical American virtues.

The process of Jewish whitening, according to Brodkin (1998), came at an expensive political price. The Jewish desiring whitening were viewed as opposition to the black Americans. As a result, this drove a segment amongst blacks and Jews. The process of whitening the Jews had to go through the aspect of white privilege (Brodkin, 1998). Because white privilege is associated with men, the Jewish men had to be redefined as the custodians of conventional manly epitomes. The males had to be valued over females, as this was within the morals and ideals of whitening. According to Brodkin, whiteness was a primary ideology, which formed the national identity of American people (Rothenberg, 2007).

In relation to the Harmon’s piece “A Limited Partnership,” the process of whitening clearly indicates how being black in America limits achievement. Timothy Cobb, who was the black American in a business partnership with a white American, Levy Jeff, who despite being in equal partnership, received all the credit and publicity. Mr. Cobb says it is hard for him as a black person to connect with white people for business deals.


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