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The Color of the LandRace, Nation, and the Politics of Landownership in Oklahoma, 1832-1929$
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David A. Chang

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780807833650

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807895764_chang

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The Battle for Whiteness: Making Whites in a White Man's Country, 1916–1924

The Battle for Whiteness: Making Whites in a White Man's Country, 1916–1924

Chapter:
(p.175) 6 The Battle for Whiteness: Making Whites in a White Man's Country, 1916–1924
Source:
The Color of the Land
Author(s):

David A. Chang

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/9780807895764_chang.10

This chapter traces the ways that poor whites challenged the emerging economic order that denied them the place in society to which they felt entitled by dint of their race. It argues that the white elite called upon a racialized sense of white American national unity to undercut working-class insurgency in the state and observes that land remained an important part of this effort, despite an economic and political environment that was hostile to poor whites' retaining it. The chapter explains that both racism and class consciousness were part of white agrarianism, and that, for white Oklahoman agrarians, whiteness was no “false consciousness” distracting them from the reality of race. It observes that white working-class farmers and mine workers had given the power of their racialized class consciousness to a variety of causes that posited that the central issue in Oklahoma politics was the exploitation of white men at the hands of profiteering capitalists.

Keywords:   poor whites, white elite, land, racism, class consciousness, Oklahoma, capitalists

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