Who counts as white has changed over time depending on circumstances and social conditions. But at a group level, becoming white is about ascending the social hierarchy and participating in the exclusion and disempowerment of those “outside” whiteness.
Ira Berlin (1941-2018) was a Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Maryland. Among his many books are, Generations of Captivity: A History of African American Slaves and Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in America.
Dalton Conley is currently (2019) Henry Putnam University Professor in Sociology and a faculty affiliate at the Office of Population Research and the Center for Health and Wellbeing at Princeton University. He is the author of Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy in America.