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Black Identities West Indian Immigrant Dreams and American Realities

ISBN-10: 0674007247
ISBN-13: 9780674007246
Edition: 2000
Authors: Mary C. Waters
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Description: 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  More...

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Book details

List price: $31.50
Copyright year: 2000
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 9/15/2001
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 432
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.386
Language: English

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.

Mary C. Waters is M.E. Zukerman Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. She is author most recently ofThe Next Generation: Immigrant Youth in Comparative Perspective,and ofEthnic Options: Choosing Identities in America(UC Press), among other books. Patrick J. Carr is Associate Professor at Rutgers University. He is the author ofClean Streets: Controlling Crimes, Maintaining Order, and Building Community ActivismandHollowing Out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What it Means for America.Maria J. Kefalas, Professor in the Department of Sociology at Saint Joseph's University, is the author ofPromises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage(UC Press) among other books. Jennifer Holdaway is Program Director and China Representative at the Social Science Research Council. She is the author most recently ofEnvironment and Health in China: Cross-disciplinary Perspectives.

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

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