Date of Award

5-1-2016

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

Zaretsky, Natasha

Abstract

This study demonstrates the internal controversy of the white ethnic revival toward the affirmative action policy – white ethnic groups both wished to be included in the categories of this policy and vigorously opposed it. Subsequently, they failed to be proclaimed a designated minority. The study also shows that striving to gain social and economic stability, white ethnic groups used to conform to the Anglo-Saxon standards; however, beginning in the 1970s, ethnic association with whites was perceived hindward. Despite the overall failure of the white ethnic movement, two groups were able to succeed and gain recognition of a designated minority – namely, Italian Americans in CUNY and Hasidic Jews in the MBDA. Both of these cases present examples of religious bigotry excluding groups from enjoying the social benefits. These are unique cases, as traditionally religious discrimination was pushed off the civil rights agenda. For this reason, in their attempts to pursue the “minority” status, both Italian Americans and Hasidic Jews did not emphasize their religion as the main reason for their disadvantaged position. On the contrary, they stressed still-existing prejudice and stereotypes about their ethnicity (Italian Americans) and non-traditional way of life (Hasidic Jews) that served the main reason of their deprived and “socially disadvantaged” status. Moreover, these cases present the irony of the white ethnic revival: while the major current of Italian American and Jewish American civil rights activists argued against affirmative action, Italian American faculty at CUNY and Hasidic Jews did otherwise.

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