Mary, writer of the fabulous blog Cooking with the Junior League, sent in an episode of the PBS series Faces of America. The episode, titled “Becoming American,” looks at the immigrant origins of various celebrities (Meryl Streep, Stephen Colbert) in the period of massive immigration to the U.S. from about 1820 until 1924.
The segment Mary found interesting is about the grandfather of Queen Noor. An immigrant from Syria, he became a naturalized citizen, which Mary says “was unusual because at the time, only ‘white’ and ‘black’ people could be naturalized…but during this time, Syrians started taking their cases to court to prove that they were white, and could, as a result, become naturalized citizens.” It’s a great example of the social construction of race and the way groups have actively resisted the ways they were categorized.
The segment on Queen Noor’s grandfather starts at 36:23.
Also see our post on suing for whiteness.