Becoming Black: Contemporary Jamaicans and West Indians in the 1990s

  • David A. Gerber
  • Alan M. Kraut


Just as nineteenth-century Irish immigrants came gradually to be included in the ranks of white people, so, too, are some contemporary immigrants coming to be considered black. Here again, of course, we are speaking about something other than skin color. The issue is instead racialization—a social categorization that assigns people to a position on the basis of physical features, which are assumed to be of significance for understanding the behavior and thought of individuals. In understanding the process by which some contemporary immigrants become black, in this chapter we will develop the example of English-speaking immigrants from the islands of the Caribbean that once constituted the British West Indies, and pay special attention to Jamaicans, one of the largest in number of these peoples from the Caribbean who have settled in New York City. Jamaican immigration to New York City is not a new phenomenon. Jamaicans have resettled there throughout the twentieth century, but the wave of immigration after 1965 was significantly larger than any previous immigration from the island to the metropolis.


Racial Discrimination African Ancestry Upward Mobility Racial Profile Race Thinking 
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Suggestions for Further Reading

  1. Irma Watkins-Owens, Blood Relations: Caribbean Immigrants and the Harlem Community, 1900–1930 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  2. Mary C. Waters, Black Identities:West Indian Immigrant Dreams and American Realities (Cambridge: Harvard University Press and Russell Sage Foundation, 1999).Google Scholar
  3. Philip Kasinitz, Caribbean New York: Black Immigrants and the Politics of Race (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992).Google Scholar
  4. Roger Waldinger, Still the Promised City?: African-Americans and New Immigrants in Postindustrial New York (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  5. Tekle Woldemikael, Becoming Black American: Haitians and American Institutions in Evanston, Illinois (New York: AMS, 1989).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David A. Gerber and Alan M. Kraut 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Gerber
  • Alan M. Kraut

There are no affiliations available

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