Winner of the American Political Science Association's Best Book of 1999 in Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Winner of the Cornell University Best Book in Equality Award Winner of the Eastern Sociological Society Mirra Komarovsky Award The story of West Indian immigrants to the United States is considered a great success. Many of these adoptive citizens have prospered, including General Colin Powell. But Mary Waters tells a very different story about immigrants from the West Indies. She finds that, ultimately, the values that gained these first-generation immigrants initial success-a willingness to work hard, a lack of attention to racism, a desire for education-are undermined by the realities of life in the United States. Discrimination in housing channels them into neighbourhoods with inferior public schools and high crime rates, undermining their hopes for their children's future. The hard-won relative success of the parents is often followed by the downward slide of their children. Contrary to long-held beliefs, Waters finds, those who resist Americanisation are most likely to succeed ecomically.
Mary C. Waters is M. E. Zukerman Professor of Sociology at Harvard University.