Book Review--The Mississippi Chinese: Between Black and White

“The Mississippi Chinese: Between Black and White," a book written by James Loewen in 1971, is an important look at race in the United States, especially in the Deep South.

You may know of Loewen from his popular "Lies" books including "Lies My Teacher Told Me," "Lies Across America" and "Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus." Mississippi Chinese examines a much overlooked minority in the United States and how they melted into the racially charged atmosphere of the Old South. A part of American history that frequently slips between the cracks is how white plantation owners imported Chinese "sharecroppers" hoping to replace their recently lost slaves following the Civil War.

Loewen, reveals the Chinese initially were classified with blacks, but later transitioned from "colored" to white. Part of the move from black to white came at the insistence of the plantation owners that the newly imported Chinese cut ties with "part-black Chinese and those married to colored wives." Loewen's scholarship reveals a part of American racial history rarely if ever discussed publicly and essentially unknown to the majority of Americans.

For any wanting to explore the history of race relations in the United States, "The Mississippi Chinese: Between Black and White," is an informed, intelligent look at what really happened in American race relations.

Don't be misled by the four-star rating, as this book is easily a five-star effort. Because of its scholarly nature, it isn't always the easiest read, thus, the four-star rating. However, "The Mississippi Chinese: Between Black and White," is an important analysis of race in the United States.

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Tags: chinese, race, review, slavery, south

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Comment by Sentient Biped on December 19, 2013 at 9:13pm

Whew, for a moment there I was worried about cannibalism in the workplace.  I just hope it wasn't McDonalds.  Trans fats and all.

Comment by Michael Penn on December 18, 2013 at 3:50pm

I need to read that book. James Loewen is a good writer and his "Lies My Teacher Told Me" is a book that started to turn my thinking around. I used to think that what we were taught was absolute truth, but there is no such animal. I was extreme right as a young man, but my life experiences have taken me far left today. All you have to do is ask questions and be logical.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on December 16, 2013 at 3:43pm

Sentient--Not many do. I ran across this about a year after I got out of the army. A teacher friend of mine told me it was a book I might want to read. I bought in 1977 and still have it on my bookshelf. It was an enlightening piece for me. I knew the Chinese were brought here  to work on the railroad from the san Francisco Bay area all the way to the Rockies, but until then it never once occurred to me that the Chinese were in the Deep South. I've been going through my books and decided to post reviews on some that I've read earlier. I thought this was a good place to start because most people don't know a thing about it.

Comment by Sentient Biped on December 16, 2013 at 11:17am

Don thanks for this review.  The book sounds very interesting.  I did not know this history.

Some info on Mississippi history website.

This reminded me a bit of the sad story of Chinese immigrants in Mexico.  The Mexican Chinese community was ultimately driven out or massacred.  

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