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date: 28 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Despite our national, secular rhetoric promising equality, white racial status has been the fundamental requirement for citizenship, and nonwhiteness meant subordination since the early republic. Determining who deserved the privileges citizenship bestowed depended on definitions of who was white—or, more important, who was not white. But racial mixture, social movements, expansion, and immigration have expanded those privileges beyond the definitions at the nation’s foundation. This essay surveys the broad contours of inclusion in citizenship, focusing on the legal and legislative arenas. Whiteness-as-citizenship (which describes whiteness as normative citizenship across time and place, and the state of having achieved it) is at the center of this survey, but prominent cases and legislation ultimately swayed local mores; specialized situations tested the meanings at large; and a variety of minority experiences showed how race has been the primary factor in determining citizenship throughout.

Keywords: citizenship, civil rights, immigration, law, race, racial mixture, social movements, whiteness

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