ISBN-10:
0674007247
ISBN-13:
9780674007246
Pub. Date:
09/28/2001
Publisher:
Harvard
Black Identities: West Indian Immigrant Dreams and American Realities / Edition 1

Black Identities: West Indian Immigrant Dreams and American Realities / Edition 1

by Mary C. Waters

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Overview

Black Identities: West Indian Immigrant Dreams and American Realities / Edition 1

The story of West Indian immigrants to the United States is considered a great success. Many of these adoptive citizens have prospered, including General Colin Powell. But Mary Waters tells a very different story about immigrants from the West Indies, especially their children.

She finds that when the immigrants first arrive, their knowledge of English, their skills and contacts, their self-respect, and their optimistic assessment of American race relations facilitate their integration into the American economic structure. Over time, however, the realities of American race relations begin to swamp their positive cultural values. Persistent, blatant racial discrimination soon undermines the openness to whites the immigrants have when they first arrive. Discrimination in housing channels them into neighborhoods with inadequate city services and high crime rates. Inferior public schools undermine their hopes for their children's future. Low wages and poor working conditions are no longer attractive for their children, who use American and not Caribbean standards to measure success.

Ultimately, the values that gained these first-generation immigrants initial success—a willingness to work hard, a lack of attention to racism, a desire for education, an incentive to save—are undermined by the realities of life in the United States. In many families, the hard-won relative success of the parents is followed by the downward slide of their children. Contrary to long-held beliefs, Waters finds, those who resist Americanization are most likely to succeed economically, especially in the second generation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674007246
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 09/28/2001
Series: Russell Sage Foundation Books at Harvard University Press Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 975,310
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Mary C. Waters is M. E. Zukerman Professor of Sociology at Harvard University.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Historical Legacies

Racial and Ethnic Identity Choices

West Indians at Work

Encountering American Race Relations

Intergenerational Dynamics

Segregated Neighborhoods and Schools

Identities of the Second Generation

Immigrants and American Race Relations

Appendix: Notes on Methodology

Notes

Index

What People are Saying About This

William Julius Wilson

Black Identities establishes a new landmark in the study of West Indian immigrant experiences in the United States. Mary C. Waters' perceptive and authoritative study challenges conventional views of the Americanization of West Indian immigrants. Also, her comprehensive coverage of their experiences and contacts with native Americans enriches our understanding of race relations in this country.
William Julius Wilson, author of When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor

Douglas S. Massey

This is a very ambitious and important book that offers a sophisticated and highly nuanced treatment of several complex social issues that lie at the core of American politics and society in the late 20th century. The work is distinguished by the sensitivity and imagination of the analysis, its firm grounding in solid empirical work, and a clear and engaging style that makes Black Identities a pleasure to read.
Douglas S. Massey, coauthor of American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass (Harvard)

Roger Waldinger

Black Identities, Mary Waters' new study of West Indian immigrants and their troubled encounter with the American dream, is an accomplishment of the first order. Full of rich material, Waters' book is delivered in clean, crisp prose, offering an original argument sure to provoke controversy, even as readers will admire its good sense. An outstanding work, Black Identities will be eagerly read by sociologists, historians, political scientists, and anyone interested in the emerging shape of American ethnic life.
Roger Waldinger, author of Still the Promised City?: African-Americans and New Immigrants in Postindustrial New York (Harvard)

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