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Race and the Myth of the Liberal Consensus

Author(s): Gary Gerstle


Source: The Journal of American History, Vol. 82, No. 2 (Sep., 1995), pp. 579-586
Published by: Organization of American Historians
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2082187
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Race and the Mythof the
LiberalConsensus

GaryGerstle

Forthirtyyears, theideaofliberalconsensus hasgoverned ofpost-


interpretations
1945history. CoinedbyJohnHighamin the1950s,it appearedat a timewhen
olderideologies of theLeftandRightseemedto havevanished, leavingbroad
agreement on the proper contours
political of American society.Theconsensus was
thought topertain primarilyto questionsofpoliticaleconomy andclassrelations:
Everyone agreedthattheproductivity ofAmerican capitalismanditscapacity to
spreadaffluencethroughout thesocialorderhadmadequestions ofclassinequality
meaninglessandthatpolitical wouldbelimited
conflict towell-regulated andinsti-
tutionalized
strugglesamonginterest groups overhowmuchaffluence wouldcome
theirway.1
Bytheearly1960s,civilrights had becomea central plankofthatliberalcon-
sensus.Theseweretheyears whenthenation-state undertook a secondReconstruc-
tionto complete theworkleftunfinished bythefirst. Popularsupportforthis
renewed commitment toracialequalityseemedoverwhelming. A deepandwide-
spreadrevulsion segregation
against spreadthrough thenationasmillions watched
BullConnor
Sheriff unleashhisdogsandhigh-pressure hosesonpeaceful civilrights
in Birmingham,
protesters Alabama,in 1963.Hundreds ofthousands-Black and
white-joinedtheMarchon Washington in August1963whilemillions endorsed
their
efforts.In 1964and1965,Congress passedtheCivilRights ActandtheVoting
RightsAct,themostsignificant piecesofcivilrights ina hundred
legislation years.
AndLyndon B. Johnson wona landslide victoryover Barry Goldwater in 1964, in
no smallmeasure becauseofhisoutspoken support forcivilrights.Whitesouth-
erners,ofcourse,did notsharethisdetermination to enddiscrimination against
AfricanAmericans. ButthefactthattheSouthstoodoutsidethe"consensus" did
notdamagethenotionofconsensus, fortheSouth was regarded as a backward
regionthatdidnottruly representtheUnitedStates.OncetheSouthwasforced
to becomepartof thenation-andthecivilrights lawsof 1964and 1965were
meantto accomplish justthat- theliberalconsensus wouldprevailtheretoo.

of America.
in the Departmentof Historyof the CatholicUniversity
GaryGerstleis associateprofessor

'JohnHigham,"TheCultofthe'American Consensus':HomogenizingOur History," Commentary,27 (Jan.


of the idea of liberalconsensus,see GodfreyHodgson,Americain Our
1959), 93-100. For the bestdefinition
Time(New York,1978),67-98.

The Journalof AmericanHistory September1995 579


580 TheJournal
ofAmerican
History September
1995

The idea ofa consensuson questionsofcivilrights in theearly1960shasrecently


attractedthe attention ofprominent liberaljournalistsdisillusionedbytheracially
polarizedconditionof our own time. ThomasByrneEdsall and MaryD. Edsall,
JimSleeper,E. J. Dionne, and otherssee theearlysixtiesas thelastmomentwhen
a majority oftheAmericanpeople weretrulycommitted to integration and when
thenation'sseriousracialproblemswereamenableto solution.Thentheconsensus
fellvictimto Black riots,Black nationalism,the New Left,whitebacklash,and
theriseoftheNewRight.Thosetakingthispointofviewoffer differentexplanations
forliberalism's collapse,but theyall expressa nostalgiaforthe halcyondaysof
1963 and 1964 and a desireto recapturethatoptimistic politicalmoment.2
Missingfromtheseliberaljournalists' worksandfromparallelaccountsbyprofes-
sionalhistorians is a seriousexaminationof the constituencies thatwerepart of
the liberalracialconsensus.It is easyto identify a liberalestablishment thatsup-
portedthisconsensus -in churches and synagogues, in government bureaucracies,
in universitiesand foundations,in sectionsof the media- but it is difficult to
determinehow farbeyondthis establishment the consensusextended.Electoral
returnsfrom1964-when 61 percentvotedforLBJ- do not sufficeas evidence.
Nor do publicopinionpolls on questionsof civilrights.3 What we wantto know
is how whiteDemocratsin the Northrespondedwhengiventhe opportunity to
takea standon civilrights.To thiscrucialquestion,ArnoldR. Hirschand Thomas
J. Sugrueoffersome startling and disturbing answers.
Hirschand Sugruehavegone to little-used sources,foundactorsand behaviors
thatweresimplyunknownto us, and used theirfindings to compelus to rethink
whatwethoughtweknew.Theyhavediscovered "massiveresistance" to integration
in theNorthamongworking-class andlower-middle-class whites,a resistance dating
back,notto 1963,butto theverydawnoftheintegrationist era the 1940s.Their
discoverieswillnotprovidecomfortto thosewho long forthe "peaceful"daysof
1963and 1964. To the contrary, ifHirsch'sand Sugrue'sfindings are borneout by
further researchintoChicago,Detroit,and othernorthern cities,we willhave to
confront thepossibility thata liberalracialconsensus wasneveranything morethan
a comforting mirage.
Hirsch'sarticleon TrumbullParkcontinuesa lineofinvestigation thathe began
withhisimportant butunderappreciated book,Making theSecondGhetto, a study
of raceand housingin Chicagofrom1940 to 1960. In thatbook,he firstbrought
to lightwhathe called"an eraofhiddenviolence,"whenworking-class and lower-
middle-class whitesrepeatedly attackedBlacks-their personsand theirproperty -
whohad movedintotheirneighborhoods. TrumbullParkHomes,a publichousing
project,figuredin thatbook, but onlyas the siteof one amongmanyincidents

2 ThomasByrne EdsallandMaryD. Edsall,ChainReaction:TheImpactofRace,Rights, and TaxesonAmerican


Politics(New York,1991);JimSleeper,TheClosestofStrangers: Liberalismand thePoliticsofRace in New York
(New York,1990); E. J. Dionne, WhyAmericansHate Politics(New York,1991). Thisperspective also informs
the arguments in ArthurM. Schlesinger Jr.,TheDisunitingofAmerica(New York,1992).
3 Galluppollsin 1964and 1965reported that72% ofwhitesoutsidetheSouthsupportedLyndonB. Johnson's
civilrightsprogram.See Edsall and Edsall, Chain Reaction,36.
RaceandtheMythoftheLiberalConsensus 581

spanninga fifteen-year period.4In hiscurrent article,Hirschhas focusedon Trum-


bull Parkand, in a rivetingnarrative, exposedthe resistanceto integrationin all
itsugliness.
The whitehomeowners of South Deering,Chicago,who led the resistance to
integration at the TrumbullParkHomes had not opposed thisprojectwhen it
opened in the late 1930s;norhad theyterrorized the poorwhiteswho arrivedto
livein thisnew and thenall-whitegovernment housing.Whitehomeowners did
objectto manyof thevaluesand behaviorsexhibitedbytheproject'spoorwhites,
but theyrespected -or at least accepted-the rightof thosepoor to live in their
midst.Theyextendedno such courtesyor respectto the Blackpoor. As soon as
the firstBlack familymoved into TrumbullParkin 1953- a "Black"familyso
"white"in colorthatno one at theChicagoHousingAuthority evenrealizedthat
the integration of TrumbullParkwas underway-thecampaignof violenceand
terrorbegan. White resisters set offaerial bombs (fireworks that explodedin a
seriesofflashesand deafeningnoises)outsidetheapartments of Blackresidentsat
thirty-minute intervals.Theythreatenedto harmthe personsand businessesof
whitemilkmen,shop owners,and otherswho servedBlacks.Gangsof whitesas-
saultedBlackswholefttheprojectto work,to shop,to use localparks,orsimplyto
strolldownthestreet.EachBlacktenantwhoventured beyondtheprojectrequireda
detailof sixto ninepoliceofficers to ensurehisor hersafety.Fourhundredpolice
officers
provedinsufficient to protecta groupofBlackswho,onJuly10, 1954,went
toa localparktoplaybaseball.Blackscouldnotevenfindsanctuary inneighborhood
churches:the doorsof SouthDeeringMethodistChurchwereforyearsclosedto
thembythegodlywhiteswho worshipedinside.Blackscould enterSaintKevin's
CatholicChurchformass but theycould neverleave withoutbeingverbally, and
sometimes physically,abused.Thisterror tooka tollon TrumbullParkBlacks,and
manyfledto saferenvirons.The wonderis thatany stayed.By 1959, the Black
presencehad leveledoffto twentyfamilies,a tokennumberthatlocalwhitesfelt
theycould tolerate.Onlythendid theviolenceand assaultstaperoff.The whites
of SouthDeeringclaimedvictory.
This is a grippingand harrowing tale, one thatHirschhas painstakingly and
imaginatively reconstructed froma rangeoflittle-used sources,themostinteresting
of whichare thespyreportssubmittedbyAmericanCivilLibertiesUnion(ACLU)
"agents"whohad infiltrated theworkplaces andtaverns whereSouthDeeringwhites
plannedtheirattacks.Hirsch'sworkalso revealsthe huge gap thatseparatedthe
whitesegregationists ofSouthDeeringandthewhiteliberalsdetermined tointegrate
theproject.Virtually all theliberals-and thereweremanyofthem,working through
theACLU,theChicagoHousingAuthority, theAmerican FriendsServiceCommittee,
and theCatholicInterracial Council-came fromoutsideSouthDeering.Theyde-
scendedon SouthDeering,just as theyhad on Montgomery, Alabama,to stanch
the ooze of prejudicefromthe poresof local red-necks.As Hirschdrawsus into
hisstory, we arelessand lessable to see theNorthas fundamentally different
from

4 ArnoldR. Hirsch,MakingtheSecondGhetto:Raceand Housingin Chicago,1940-1960(New York,1983).


582 TheJournal
ofAmerican
History September
1995

theSouth.ThustheaptnessofHirsch'sselectionofthewords"massiveresistance"
forhis title-a brilliantappropriation thatobliterates the distancelong thought
to divideNorthfromSouth.
But howrepresentative wasTrumbullPark?Liberalsof thetimetreatedit as an
aberration, "a runningsore"on an otherwise healthybodypolitic.In anothercon-
text,LizabethCohenhasmadea strongcaseforwhatwemightcall"SouthDeering
exceptionalism." SouthDeeringsteelworkers, shenotedinherstudyoftheChicago
workingclassbetweenthe wars,wereamongthe fewgroupsof mass-production
workers who neverjoined theCongressof Industrial Organizations (CIO) and who
wereneverexposedto the CIO's vauntedcampaignto extirpateethnicand racial
prejudicefromunionranks.In trying to explainthisresistance to theCIO, Cohen
stressedthe "ethnicinsulation,racialexclusiveness, geographical separatism, and
employeedependency" on corporate welfareprograms ofSouthDeering.Fromher
perspective, the parochialism and prejudiceof SouthDeeringworkers are worthy
ofstudy,but thesetraitshardlycharacterized themajority of industrialworkers of
Chicagoor elsewhere.5 It follows,then,thatmassiveresistance by SouthDeering
whitesin the 1950swas atypical.Such behaviormightappearin othernorthern
urbanpockets(such as SouthBoston)leftuntouchedby the politicaland social
revolutions of the New Deal, but it would not surfaceamongthe working-class
millionswho had made New Deal liberalismtheirfighting creed.
ThomasSugrue'sarticlechallengesthiswholeline ofthinking.Sugrueconvinc-
inglydemonstrates thatthewhitehostility to Blacksidentified byHirschin a neigh-
borhoodthatthe CIO failedto conquerwas just as prevalentin a citythatthe
CIO and theNew Deal "owned"-Detroit, landof themightyUnitedAutomobile
Workers(UAW). Shiftingthe studyof Detroitawayfromthe factoriesand the
capital-labor conflict
thathave long dominatedpost-1920Detroithistoriography
and towardneighborhoods, homeownership, and citypolitics,Sugruehas discov-
eredanotherpowerfulsocialmovementin Detroit,runningparallelto and inter-
sectingwiththecity'sfamouslabormovement. Thiswasa movement ofworking-class
and lower-middle-class Detroithomeowners - manyof themCIO unionists - deter-
minedto keep theirneighborhoods lily-white.
Drawingon a little-known 1951reportbytheWayneUniversity sociologistArthur
Kornhauser, Sugrueshowsthata remarkable 85 percentofpoorand working-class
whites- anda largemajority ofDetroitCIOmembers -supported residential segre-
gation.Mobilizingthemselves into countlessneighborhoodassociations(Sugrue
has identified192 in the yearsfrom1943 to 1965) theyquicklyestablishedtheir
influencein citypolitics,splitting theDemocraticpartyand handingvictory after
victoryto conservative Republicanswho supportedsegregation. Bythelate 1940s,
thesegroupshad alreadyfashioneda conservative populismthatmosthistorians
believeonlycrystallized in the 1960sand 1970s.Theirgrievance wastheone that
GeorgeWallaceused withsuch devastating effectagainstGreatSocietyliberals:
thatliberaleliteswereconspiring withthedangerousBlackpoorto undermine the

L in Chicago,1919-1939 (New York,1990), 354.


LizabethCohen,Makinga New Deal: IndustrialWorkers
RaceandtheMythoftheLiberalConsensus 583

rightsofthe"people"-the people understood to includeonlywhitehomeowners.


In Detroit,thelocal government's effortto buildpublichousing-meaningBlack
housing-in whiteneighborhoods providedevidenceof the liberalconspiracy at
work.Morethanthirty yearsbefore"ReaganDemocrats"beganundermining the
NewDeal coalitionin nationalpolitics,"Jeffries Democrats"and "CoboDemocrats"
werewrecking the New Deal orderin Detroit.6
The UAWwas powerlessto stop thispoliticalmovement.In mayoralelections
in 1945 and 1949,pro-laborand pro-NewDeal Democratswentdownto defeat.
Afterthe 1949 elections,whenits appeals to classloyaltyhad failedto dissuade
unionmembersfromvotingfortheaffluent Republicancandidate,a bloodiedUAW
limpedawayfromlocalpoliticsto lickitswounds,effectively cedingcontrolofthe
cityto the segregationists. Sugrue'stale is as potentand grimas Hirsch's.There
does not seemto have been as muchrawviolencein Detroitas in TrumbullPark
(thoughSugruehasfoundevidenceofovertwohundredseparateincidents involving
harassment, assault,vandalism,and arson),but the whites'determination to live
separatelyfromBlackswas everybit as intense.
Detroitwasnotidenticalto othernorthern metropolises suchas Cleveland,Phila-
dephia,NewYork,andBoston.Detroit,forexample,had a muchhigherpopulation
ofsouthern whitemigrants thanthoseothercities,a characteristicthatSugruedoes
not sufficientlyanalyze.One wonders,too, about the long-term socialeffects of
theFordMotorCompany's policyofhiringBlackworkers toweakenthelabormarket
powerand unionstrength ofwhiteauto workers. Nevertheless,theevidencefrom
Detroitis so strongand Detroit'spositionas a majorurbancenterso plain that
Sugrue'sextraordinary findings willcompelothersto look forsimilarpatternsof
racialhostilityin othercities.
We need notwaitfortheresultsofthatresearch to beginrethinking thehistory
ofracerelations and liberalismin thepost-1945urbanNorth.As a resultofHirsch's
and Sugrue'swork,we need to revisit theviolentclashesbetweenwhitesand Blacks
in the 1960sand treatthemnotas suddenand inexplicableexplosionsofragebut
as the continuation of a twenty-year-old patternof racialviolence.It shouldnot
shockus, as it did MartinLutherKingJr.,thata peaceful,open housingprotest
marchin Chicagoin 1966 was greetedby a riotouswhitemob. ("I've neverseen
anything likeit,"an uncomprehending King commentedafterward. "I havenever
seen-even in Mississippi orAlabama-mobs as hostileand hate-filled as I've seen
in Chicago."7) Norshoulditsurprise us thatBlacksin theNorthincreasingly turned
to violencethemselves. The terrible in
Detroitriotof 1967occurred a cityknown
to itsBlackinhabitants, notforitscivility and commitment to civilrights,butfor
the racialhatredthatwas a stapleof local politics.What was new about the riot
wasnottheturnto violencebutthedetermination ofDetroitBlacksto beatDetroit
whitesat theirown savagegame. We urgently need newstudiesofhow theracial

6 SugrueagreeswithMichaelKazin'sidentification
of the 1940sas a criticalmomentin the emergenceof a
populism.See his importantbook: MichaelKazin, ThePopulistPersuasion:An AmericanHistory
conservative
(New York,1995), 4, 165-94, 221-44.
7 RobertWeisbrot,FreedomBound: A HistoryofAmerica'sCivilRightsMovement(New York,1991), 183.
584 History
ofAmerican
TheJournal 1995
September

attitudesof Blacksin Detroit,Chicago,and elsewhereevolvedin responseto the


whitehostility theyencountered in politics,in neighborhoods, and on thestreet.8
In Hirsch'sand Sugrue'sworks,liberalsappearnotas dominantpoliticalplayers
whocontrolled an electoralcoalitionor orchestrated an ideologicalconsensus,but
as one ofseveralvocalpolitical groups. Liberals were dedicated to thecauseofracial
justice,well placed in powerfulgovernment institutions, but separatedfroma
majority of Democraticvotersbyclassbackground, residence,and ideology.They
werea decidedelectoraland ideologicalminority, lackingboththepoliticalclout
and themoralauthority to fashiona broad Democratic consensuson racialmatters.
At certaintimestheyseemedstronger-Sugrueand Hirschbothsuggestthatthe
late 1950srepresented a momentof gathering liberalstrength, reflectingin part
the growingimportanceof Blackvotersin municipalelections -but liberalswere
neverable to reconcilethe conflicting claimsof Blackand whiteDemocratsor to
driveout theracialangerand suspicionthathad takenholdofbothconstituencies.
Hirsch'sand Sugrue'sfindings forceus to askwhether New Deal liberalsand liber-
alismeverruledtheUnitedStatesas liberals(and theircritics on theleftand right)
have long thoughttheyonce did.9
Hirsch'sand Sugrue'sworks,finally, compelus to givemorethoughtto theroots
ofnorthern whiteantipathy towardBlacks.Hirschbarelycomments on thisdifficult
issuein hisarticle,perhapsbecausehe gaveit suchcarefuland insightful attention
in his book, MakingtheSecondGhetto. 10Sugrue,on the otherhand, tacklesit
head on. To his credit,Sugruedoes not attemptto finda singlekey to white
rage.Instead,he arguesfortheinfluence of a multitudeof factors, demographic,
economic,political,and cultural.The greatBlackmigration ofthe 1940sputacute
pressure on Detroit'sexisting housingstock,requiring theexpansionofBlackareas
ofsettlement beyondtheirold boundaries.Sharpdeclinesin thenumberofmanu-
facturing jobs in Detroitpropermade working-class whitesanxiousabout their
economicwell-being and thevalueoftheirlargesteconomicinvestment -their real
estate- in particular.Real estateagentsexploitedwhitehomeowners' fearsabout
theconsequences ofBlacksmovingintotheirneighborhoods, hopingtocreatepanic
sellingat bargainprices.Discriminatory federalhousingpolicieshad led white
homeowners to believethattheyhad a rightto livein raciallyexclusiveneighbor-
hoods. The manysouthernand easternEuropeanethnicsin the ranksof white
homeowners had onlyrecently been acceptedas "white"and weredetermined to
preservethatskinprivilegeat all costs.And thepoliticalclimateof the Cold War
made the traditional styleof UAWclasspoliticsdifficult to sustainwhileallowing
conservativesto impugnthe campaignforintegration as a Communistplot. That
Sugrueis able toshowtheinfluence ofall thesefactors (andothers)on racialpolitics
8 Foran exampleof the kindof studieswe need, see HeatherThompson,"The Politicsof Labor,Race, and
Liberalismin theAutoPlantsand theMotorCity:Detroit,1940-1980"(Ph.D. diss.,Princeton 1995).
University,
9 Evidenceis also beginningto emergethat liberalideas did not fullyrule capital-laborrelationsin the
1950s.See ElizabethFones-Wolf, SellingFreeEnterprise:TheBusinessAssaulton Laborand Liberalism,1945-
60 (Urbana,1994).
10Hirsch'sbook shouldbe read as a companionpiece to his article.See Hirsch,Makingthe Second Ghetto,
esp. 40-67, 171-211.
RaceandtheMythoftheLiberalConsensus 585

in Detroitis testimony to the breadthof his historical visionand thesharpnessof


hishistorical 11Still,afterfinishing
intelligence. hisessay,I wishedhe had pondered
morethe intersections of class,ethnicity, and race and how theyproducedsuch
virulentwhiteangerand fear.
TheDetroitworking classofthe1940sand 1950s,inSugrue'stelling,waseconomi-
callyvulnerable.Blackworkers werehithardestbyrecessions and theshutdownof
manufacturing plants,but whiteworkers werealso hurt.The largenumbersof
easternand southernEuropeanethnicsin thewhiteworking classalso experienced
culturalvulnerability. Becausetheyhad onlyrecently beenacceptedintotheranks
ofwhiteAmericans, theirmemoriesofexclusionweresharpand theirfearofexpul-
sionfromthoseranksgreat.Thosememoriesand fearsmade themdetermined to
clingto theirwhitenessand to protectitsprivileges.
Butdid something intheirworking-class statusmaketheappropriation of"white-
all
ness" the more important to these ethnic Americans? David R. Roediger has
answeredthatquestionaffirmatively in The Wagesof Whiteness, his compelling
studyofclass,ethnicity, and racein theantebellumurbanNorth.The Irishimmi-
grantsof thatera foundthemselves concentrated in the lowliestand mostback-
breaking manual occupations,occupations associated in themindsofmostAmeri-
canswithdirtand darkAfricanskins.The Irish,accordingto Roediger,werequick
to embracea whitenessthatwould distinguish themfromthe AfricanAmerican
laborerswhosehard lot, in truth,theyshared.But even as theysoughtto put
distancebetweenthemselvesand Blacks,the Irishwereprofoundly attractedto
AfricanAmericanculture.In thatculture'salleged simplicity, and
playfulness,
sensuality theydiscerneda naturalness and wholesomeness thatremindedthemof
a culturetheyhad lost: theirown preindustrial culturethatdid not survivethe
regimentation demanded of Irishproletarians in industrializing America.The Irish
could neveracknowledgethisattraction directly(althoughtheydid so indirectly
throughBlackfaceand minstrelsy), forthatwoulddragthemdownto thelevelof
theAfricanAmerican.The repressed longingexpressed itselfas loathinginstead.'2
At firstglancethisargumentabout the Irish in the 1840sseemsto offerlittle
purchaseon easternand southern Europeanfactory workers in the1940s.The latter
laboredinjobsandunderconditions that,however weresignificantly
difficult, better
thanwhattheIrishhad knownin the 1840s.Moreover, theseworkers wereas many
as threegenerations removedfromthe peasantculturesof Europe; theirethnic
identity in the 1940swas as mucha productof theAmericanindustrial societyin
whichtheyandtheirparentshad longlivedas a holdoverfrompreindustrial Europe.
Thus, theywould not have experiencedthe same culturalalienationas the Irish
immigrants of the 1840s.
Otherevidence,however, suggests therelevance ofRoediger's analysis.Invirtually
alltheDetroitautoplants,forexample,Blacksweredisproportionately concentrated

" Sugrue'sbook will offera more extensivediscussionof the factorscontributing


to whiteracialhatredin
Detroit.See ThomasSugrue,The Originsofthe UrbanCrisis:Race,IndustrialDecline,and Housingin Detroit,
1940-1960(Princeton,forthcoming).
12
TheWagesof
DavidR.Roediger, RaceandtheMaking
Whiteness: oftheAmerican WorkingClass(London,1991).
586 TheJournal
ofAmerican
History September
1995

in thedirtiestandphysically toughest jobs,an occupational patternthatinvigorated


theolderassociationbetweendirtand darkskins.'3Similarly, ethnicwhitesofthe
1940s,liketheIrishof the 1840s,seemedto viewBlacksas lessboundbythestrict
moralsand disciplinethattheyregardedas essentialto theirownethniccommuni-
ties.'4As Sugrueshows,manywhitehomeownersopposed integration because
theybelievedthatBlackswould bringto whiteneighborhoods the pornography,
prostitution,gambling,partying, and"generalriotousliving"thatwhitesassociated
withParadiseValley,Detroit'sprincipalghetto.We wouldneed to do research into
the culturallivesof working-class whitesin Detroitto learnwhetherthe white
loathingof ParadiseValleyconcealeda secretand repressed longingto partakeof
Blacksensuality and"partying." moreworkis neededto ascertain
Similarly, whether
the fearsof interracial sex thatSugrueand Hirschhave uncoveredamongwhite
segregationistshintat hiddendesires.Butsuchprojects seemworthdoing,especially
givenwhatwe knowaboutwhiteAmerica'stwentieth-century fascinationwiththe
music,dance,language,dress,and sexualityof African American culture.
A Roediger-style analysisgeneratesotherinteresting questionsabout racerela-
tionsin thepostwarNorth.Did whitegroupslesshistorically boundbywagelabor
and less worriedabout fallingto the levelof the AfricanAmericanfeel freerto
committhemselves to racialequalityand to exploretheirinterest in Blackculture?'5
Sugrue'sfindingthatsupportforracialsegregation was significantlyloweramong
middle-and upper-income Detroitwhitessuggeststhatthisquestionis wellworth
pursuing.How muchofthedisproportionate involvement ofAmericanJews in the
civilrightsmovement canbe explainedbytheirrelative freedom fromtheconstraints
ofworking-class life?Or,shouldJewish commitment toracialequalitybe understood
inmoretraditional terms - as an expressionofa feltkinshipwithBlacksthatresulted
fromtheJews'encounterwithracialanti-Semitism?'6
These questionsadmitno easy answers,and it is unfairto expectHirschand
Sugruetohavepursuedthemin articlesthatarealreadyrichinresearch and insight.
It is a tributeto theirsuperbworkon massiveresistance in Chicagoand Detroit
thatwe can beginto see theintersections of class,ethnicity,and racein newways.
Theyhave givenus all a greatdeal to thinkaboutand setfortha largeagendafor
futureresearchin thisvitallyimportantfield.

13 Thompson,"Politicsof Labor,"ch. 4.
14
This Euro-American view,of AfricanAmericansraisesthe questionof whetherthe divergenthistorical
experiences of thesetwogroupsin the UnitedStatesled themto developsignificantly viewsof work
different
and leisure,disciplineand gratification.
Forintriguing on thismatter,see RobinD. G. Kelley,"'We
speculations
AreNotWhatWe Seem':Rethinking BlackWorking-Class OppositionintheJimCrowSouth,"JournalofAmerican
History,80 (June 1993), 85-86, 101-2.
'5 See David Roediger, Towards theAbolitionof Whiteness: EssaysonRace,Politics,and WorkingClassHistory
(London,1994), 190-91.
16 ThisfocusonJewish involvement in thecivilrightsmovementis notmeantto ignorethe antagonisms and
antipathiesin Black-Jewish relationsor to suggestthat"whiteness"wasirrelevantto postwarJewishidentity.See
JonathanRieder,Canarsie:TheJewsand ItaliansofBrooklyn againstLiberalism(Cambridge,Mass., 1985); and
JeraldE. Podair,"'White' Values,'Black'Values: The Ocean Hill-Brownsville Controversy and New YorkCity
Culture,1965-1975,"RadicalHistoryReview,59 (Spring1994), 36-59.

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