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March 30, 2006

Comments

Hugo

Let me be clear that I recoil from the phrase "white pride", which suggests goose-stepping thugs. I'm not proud of my skin color, but I do celebrate my culture -- not because it is superior, but because it, like every other culture, has its own unique idiosyncracies and charms and virtues and foibles.

Mr. Bad

Vacula said "Um, right.
Social Conscience = white people
Slavery & Segregation = irrelevant

Depends on what you see as "social wrongs," I suppose. Like all that wonderful political philosophy about freedom and equality and pursuit of happiness that (oops!) didn't apply to the slaves, didn't apply to the colonial holdings in India and Africa and Asia and, um, anyone that wasn't white or didn't have access to white education and economic power. Right."

The problem with both of these characterizations and criticisms is that they fail to recognize the two important points that stanton and David made: First, that the "white race" is not a monolithic, homogeneous group. Many of us are no more similar with another white person than a person of African descent who was born in Detoit is to a person of similar racial heritage who was born in Brazil. Both are members of a diaspora, as are many of the ethnic Italians, Finns, Swedes, Germans, Irish, and yes, even English, many of whom originally settled here as religious refugees fleeing an abusive King who was intent on what was for all pracitical purposes genocide. And all of the various ethnic groups that make up "white people" have deep, rich, and fascinating traditions.

Even in 'white' families like mine you don't find monolithic "whiteness;" my mother's side has been in North American since the 1600s, while my father is a foreign-born, first generation U.S. citizen. Both are white but that's about all they have in common ethnically. I believe that people who refuse to acknowledge this and instead insist on lumping all white people together under the banner of "former-slave-owning-racist-exploitative" etc. are simply doing so to take advantage of white guilt. The best thing that white people could do would be to soundly reject such thinking.

The second issue that is even when this diversity is acknowledged some people still try to lay guilt on whites based on a presumption of collective guilt while ignoring any individual history, characteristic and/or behavior. Thus we have statements like mythago's: "stanton, it's kind of silly to be proud of 'whiteness', as though skin color were some kind of unifying thing beyond all else. What it has been and, to an unfortunate degree, still is, in America is a marker of class, culture and the legacy of slavery and racism that we're still trying to get out from under."

Sorry myth, but the guilt trip doesn't work with honest, thinking people; such people see right through the double-standard that says that all non-white cultures cana and should celebrate their heritage while whites must be ashamed of theirs. As I said, one side of my family wasn't around during slavery, and the other side never held slaves and were in fact abolitionists, so I refuse to allow you pin me with the "legacy of slavery and racism" that you seem to be trying to make stick. Most all of what you speak of is due to class not racism. Most all of the whites in Appalachia aren't now and never were members of the upper class, and many people of African and other non-white heritage currently occupy the upper class. As for racism, whites have been blamed for it but by no means are solely culpable. For example, Jesse Jackson and his "hymietown" and "Jew York Univerisity" remarks; Louis Farrakhan's anti-semitic slurs; the racial beating that Reginald Denny (a white man) endured in the post-Rodney King verdict riots; etc., exemplify nicely the reality that racism cuts many ways. And slavery? Hell, they still practice slavery in Africa. Slavery back in the days of the Colonial and early-U.S. period was not only legal (no matter how immoral) but like today, was primarily an African practice. Africans enslaved other Africans and sold them to make a buck. And the fact is, to this day they still do it. Similarly to how the Egyptians did it to the Jews, the Anglo-Saxons did it to the Scots, the Romans did it to the occupants of Great Britain before that, etc. Thus, slavery isn't so much a racial thing as it is an ethnic/tribal thing. But as David correctly pointed out, whites developed the social conciousness to abolish it in our society; there is no 'white' culture on earth that currently practices slavery, and all of them that I can think of have strict laws against slavery. So tell me, what's wrong with being proud about that?

White people have no more reason to feel guilty about their past than any other racial or ethnic group, and indeed, can be proud about the great progress we've made. In fact, when you look at places like Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, etc., I think we compare admirably vis-a-vis human rights, dignity, etc.

Mr. Bad

Hugo said: "Let me be clear that I recoil from the phrase "white pride", which suggests goose-stepping thugs."

Hugo, I share your revulsion for the goose-stepping thugs that spout the typical "white pride" rhetoric, but I also am revolted by the goose-stepping thugs that spout the 'white liberal guilt' trip. IMO both are cut from the same mold and are simply two sides of the same coin.

Hugo

One of the many reasons I changed the title of this post from "The Happy White Boy" to the Happy WASP Boy is because of the very diversity within "whiteness" you refer to, Mr. Bad.

But even that has a class element to it, of course. My half-kidding paragraph about horseback riding and sweater sets and thank you notes might not be the same definition of WASPiness that someone in Appalachia might have. I have White Anglo Saxon Protestant friends who were defined more by Wranglers, Ford F-150s, NASCAR, and those rings that cans of chewing tobacco leave on the back of your jeans. That's a different culture altogther, even if we share in the unmerited advantages that come with white skin.

It's a mistake to use the term "whiteness" as a kind of code to describe privilege and blindness. It needlessly provokes and offends. Those of us who were raised both with white skin and a variety of privileges do need to cop to our unearned advantages, but we need to find a way to renounce what is not rightfully ours without demeaning our ancestors, our upbringing, or the color of our skin.

Hugo

Mr. Bad, I've actually seen neo-Nazis goose step. I've never seen even the most impassioned black anti-racist advocate do the same -- let's not blur distinctions entirely. There is a long legacy of whites lynching blacks in this country -- but none of blacks lynching whites. Now, neither you nor I share one iota of responsibility for what our ancestors did or did not do -- but we don't get to compare the unjustified criticisms we receive to what was done to the Emmett Tills of the world, either.

anne

I have lived abroad for years at a time on two occasions - once among eastern European people (mostly white and Muslim), once among SE Asian people (mostly brown and Buddhist). The thing that stands out most? People are people are people. They are not noble or evil per skin color, or even per history. They are all just people. I cannot abide the notion that I am guilty simply because I am a white woman. That's a lot of BS. I am kind, thoughtful, compassionate, and I have my own set of terrible life experiences that have everything to do with simply being human in an imperfect world.

I get really tired of hearing things like "We white people do have a horrible past, we have a horrible culture but it's not a finished product." You know what? Lots of people have a horrible past. Most people, in fact. It is not the exclusive place of whites (who, as pointed out above, are not a homogenous mass) I saw terrible things when I lived in other places - brown people killing brown people. White people killing white people. Humans are just that - they are human. Every one of us has a mix of good and evil in us, right and wrong. Through the years, and across the globe, we seem to take turns being horrible to one another. Humans can be brutal, and often are. It has NOTHING TO DO with skin color.

I am not addressing white privilege here, nor am I dismissing the fact that racism exists; both concepts are alive and well, and I do not think that that's a good thing.

I'm just a little sick of hearing myself lumped in with the bad guys. It's a disingenuous and shallow view.

anne

an addendum to the above comment - human brutality can have everything to do with skin color at times... my point is that human brutality is not limited or consigned to any color in particular. Human brutality just IS.

Vacula

Mr. Bad, while *of course* white people are going to be coming from different cultural backgrounds and *of course* occupy a broad range of socio-econimic "classes." But David and Stanton were lumping all whites together in their responses just as much as the "liberals" you're objecting to. Honestly, do you really believe "the white race" (I agree, useless term) was "innovative in the development of a social conscience"??

Their comments suggest that slavery and segregation were a problem in the past but a bunch of principled white people in the 60s got together and wrote up a few laws and took care of that problem. Sure, it took a little bit for them to realize it was a problem, but let's give them credit: they took care of it. Uh huh.

What mythago and barb are pointing to is a legacy not of personal culpability, but of privileges. That doesn't mean all white people are rich jerks - it does mean we have "statistical advantage".

For instance, if I look at my own life I could lump myself in with a lot of stereotypes about minorities - I grew up poor in a big city with a single mother. But I have friends who fit the same background who are not white and the contrast between their experiences and mine highlight a lot of racial privilege in my life:
1. My grandparents owned a farm and a small business. Life was hard, but they were able to save up enough to send my parents to college. Their grandparents had farms or small businesses but lived in the south or in Latin America or racial ghettos and college was not as easily accessible. If their parents went to school, they had to pay for it by working themselves and they had to get in without the benefits of the Affirmative Action programs that we have today (some of their parents did not go to college for this reason).
2. My parents lived in the city and had low paying jobs. So did their parents. But my mom managed to stay at home and homeschool myself and my siblings because our neighborhood had bad schools. Most of these friends went to those bad schools and had to deal with a lot of shit because of it, both scholastically and socially. Some of their mothers eventually ended up pulling them out and homeschooling them, but that made their finances even tighter than before. There weren't really private school options for any of us in our neighborhoods.
3. My father died when I was a young teenager - his life insurance paid off our house, allowing the rent on the flat below and Social Security to support us as my mom continued to homeschool us. My friends rented their and their fathers died/left earlier, before they could give much of a cushion for later, but their fathers never had the kind of educational/professional opportunities my dad did. If their Moms wanted to homeschool them, it meant they ate beans and rice a lot and lived in awful apartments so they could get a better education.
4. I got a good job out of high school where I could save for school. I got it through a friend who worked there. They didn't have friends who could get them that kind of job, so they've had to work their way up a lot more slowly. I went to an expensive private college and got a good degree. I had really high scores on my tests and did well academically. They're smart, but don't have the same grades and test scores to prove it because their educational history has been harder and they've had a lot more distractions.
5. I got a job right out of school in the field I wanted. They're still working their way through school or they dropped out and got married and had kids and have ok jobs but not as much hope of advancement as they'd like.

Our lives depend on a million little factors and we can't pretend that what happened before we were born has no effect on what we do today. My friends are smart, hardworking, fun people. It's not my fault or theirs that they don't have the same opportunities I did - their parents didn't have the same opportunities mine did and it keeps going back. Many of my friends aren't white and have better opportunities than I do. Most of them would fit the two-parent two-job good education American dream model more than my family does.

Race isn't a straightjacket and things are much better now than they were in the past. But pretending the past doesn't affect the present is ridiculous. I don't think everything that has happened to me happens to me "because" I'm white, but I do know I don't have to deal with many things that affect my friends do "because" I'm white.

Racism is not just a matter of personal prejudice - it's also a matter of social injustice, and that is why history matters. Not so we can blame white people, but so we can all understand how racial inequality has become such a big part of our history and we can all work to prevent it being a part of our present and our future.

Anon

We've got both sides in our family. My side is recently immigrated northern European. My husband's is southern European. His family get-togethers are loud, boisterous and huggy, and they happen once or twice a year. Other than that, even though they all live pretty close to us, we never see them. Once every month or two, we'll get a call from my in-laws, but that's about it. I used to try to arrange to get together, but no one was ever interested.

My Scandinavian family, on the other hand, makes most WASP families look loud and boisterous. As carlaviii said, if you're stuck inside with people for a long winter - reticence is a survival trait. I'm probably the one in my family who's the most demonstrative and apt to say "I love you." But, I know they love me anyway. My mother and I talk a few times a week; my sister and I a little less often. My sisters-in-law and brother-in-law (he lives 20 minutes away) never have asked us over for dinner; after awhile, I gave up asking them over here. My sister (who lives seven hours away if you don't stop for lunch) often asks us to come visit. When I'm sick, my in-laws, as good southern European Catholics, say they'll pray for me. From a distance. My mother actually comes and helps out with the children - as often as I need it. Love is not only shown with words but also with actions.

And as for my own children? I tend to make friends with other mothers who also spend a lot of time with their kids (That's also one of the ways in which my mother was different than the other mothers I knew. She spent time playing and going places with us). None of us has designer anythings or spotless houses.

Mr. Bad

Hugo, my response to your 'goose-stepping' remark was of course a rhetorical device, but also valid. Sure, Nazis goose-stepped (and according to you, still do) but Idi Amin's troops used to goose-step (and maybe Ugandans still do), Kadhfi's troops do it, Mussolini's troops did it, etc. From my experience goose-stepping is a general practice of fascists, so I was using to point out that IMO people who would deem me guilty simply because of my race are fascists. I was in no way trying to equate what I experience with that of African Americans of the Jim Crow south, but your use of the narrow crime of lynching is disengenuous: I have a friend whose father was killed by a young black man in broad daylight in midtown Manhattan simply because he was a white man. It was a gang initiation. I have roots in Detroit, and I'm here to tell you that simply being white can get you killed there too. White people are murdered every day because being white makes them a target; to deny this is disingenuous. Sure, they're not being lynched by mobs, but the result is the same: Somebody gets killed because they are, in this case, white. So sure, it's not lynching, it's the 21st century and lynching is so last century.

Face it, severe racism in not something found only in whites.

Vacula: Actually, the fight to end slavery and segregation goes back to the beginning of the 19th century, but it's a long and difficult fight. I'm not saying that it's over, but I'm also not willing to be a scapegoat for people of my ancestors' generation or contemporary racists, be they white, black or otherwise. Your story is compelling, but I personally don't have your experience of privilege so I guess we're at a Stalemate. I think that much of the difference in experiences between you and your friends has to do with culture: Take for example the Chinese in the U.S. For the most part they're not wealthy, but they do have a huge networking system that they use to help refer friends to schools, employment opportunities, etc. I don't believe racism has a significant effect compared to the cultural effects that create that sense of community. And I'm not against community either - I think it's great that, e.g., Jews, Chinese, Vietnamese, Koreans, Russians, et al., are tight-knit and helping each other out. So why is it bad if white people (especially white men) form tight-knit communities based on their culture so as to help each other out when for any other ethnic group we not only applaud the sense of 'community,' we encourage it? What you described above sounds to me just like what my Chinese, Jewish, et al., friends have.

And sure, remembering that the past affects the present is important and helpful, but dwelling on it - or in some cases the obssessing over race that we see in so-called 'progressive' communities - is an unhealthy fixation that prevents healing and progress. The argument that "race still matters" seems to come from the people who need it to still matter so that their lives have meaning, e.g., professionals who work in the 'diversity industry.' I think that race would matter a lot less if, well, it mattered a lot less. I know it's simplistic, but hey, I've always preferred the KISS priciple. You don't solve racism with racism.

Vacula

Mr. Bad, you continue to go beyond the comments to make your arguments against what "we're saying". You ignore stanton's generalizations (which I was referring to with the 60s comment) and assume I'm generalizing when I'm trying to be as specific as possible.

My point isn't how priviledged I was: I know a lot of people who have those opportunities and more. My point was that many people with similar backgrounds to me have lost opportunities or face more difficulties because of their race and the history of the way their race has been treated.

No one said only white are racists. Bringing in lynching as a carry-all term for racism is silly (for either side, Hugo or Mr. Bad or whoever) because the majority of racism is a heck of a lot more subtle and it damages a lot more lives.

No one said only whites network. Why bring that up all these "they do it too!" arguments when I explicitly said that I was talking about social injustice? Obviously not everyone who is a minority is equally affected by racial inequity, just as whites are affected by "majority status/privilege" differently.

Not caring about race will not get rid of social injustice - racism has created unbearable situations that have to be dealt with, like white flight contributing to poor educational opportunities or racial profiling leading to unequal prosecution of drug offenses. It isn't "obsessing over race" to try to change injustice. You're obsessing over race when you hear discussions of problems caused by whites somewhere sometime and respond with "it isn't my problem" and "stop blaming me." That isn't the point being made at all, stop taking it so personally.

Like Barb said, whites can choose how they will be viewed in the future. If you don't like historical racism being brought up so much, work to change the present so it won't matter in the future.

Vacula

I know it's rude to double post, but...

"So why is it bad if white people (especially white men) form tight-knit communities based on their culture" - Again, no one said it was. I fail to see where tight-knit communities contributing to either side of the situations I described. I wasn't talking about community at all, but personal opportunities. You're bringing that one up on your own. Hugo was trying to defend the tight-knittedness of his community despite the lack of "obvious" intimacy in his original post, but no one was out to shut down whites here.

Your last paragraph is really bugging me. Forgive the exaggerated rhetoric, but it really comes off as "I don't see a problem. The only problem I see is you saying there's a problem, so please shut up and everything will be ok." You may have had bad experiences with people "using" racial injustice to focus on themselves, but why try to derail the conversation to talk about that? If you can agree that there is ANY racism, any violence against women, any injustice at all in our world, why do you need to derail conversations about those problems to deal with "false accusations"? You don't have to work against racism and violence and stuff. Do what you want with your life, but don't dismiss the work of those who are trying to do GOOD and don't push yourself and your pet peeves in. It's NOT ABOUT YOU.

I think Hugo's response to barb is kind of missing the point too, for what it's worth, but it's his blog and he can approach things how he wants.


NancyP

LOL. Aside from the "WASPy" qualifier, the following could describe some old-fashioned church-going, fraternity-sorority-service organization-club-belonging, proud "race men and women":

But that doesn't mean I'm ashamed of having grown up WASPy, of having been raised in a culture that valued understated elegance, self-restraint, self-reliance and a sturdy Protestant work ethic.

Just take yourself over one Sunday to one of the older AME congregations in town if you want to see elegance - dressed about 1,000% more elegantly than the white suburban evangelicals... At least that's the way it is in the Midwest. I always feel a bit shabby in comparison..

But yes, I too am a WASP, and can be proud of the fact that my ethnic/economic background pioneered the use of shocking pink and lime green, together, in women's clothing. It seems to be all the rage now - a rare instance of fashion following the WASP rather than the hip-hop aesthetic. Revenge of the nerds!

stanton

>David Thompson: "Whatever they did or did not do is irrelevant now"
>Stanton: "The "white race" has been involved with horrifying injustices, as
>have all of the other ethnic groups. And they also were innovative in the
>development of a social conscience, moving them to go to great lengths in
>attempt to correct the social wrongs."
>
>Um, right.
>Social Conscience = white people
>Slavery & Segregation = irrelevant
>
>Depends on what you see as "social wrongs," I suppose. Like all that wonderful
>political philosophy about freedom and equality and pursuit of happiness that
>(oops!) didn't apply to the slaves, didn't apply to the colonial holdings in
>India and Africa and Asia and, um, anyone that wasn't white or didn't have
>access to white education and economic power. Right.


Vacula,

You are correct - these wonderful concepts were not universally applied, even though there were voices demanding universal application from the beginning. For most of history, the dominant group made the rules, and made them expressly to protect their dominant position. It's still like that in much of the world. For example, how effective is the affirmative action program in Tibet? Is it helping the Tibetans to take a more prominent role in running their own country? No, it is not. The unstated affirmative action program there gives overwhelming preference to the dominant group, in order to keep the subjugated people in their place. We aren't talking about 150 years ago here. It's right now, and it is not the evil "white race" committing the outrage. (Real world socialism, as opposed to wishful/dreamy theorizing, is a very ugly thing indeed, but that's a different topic.) The fact that western democracies came to recognize a wrong and take steps to correct it by empowering large disenfranchised minorities is unprecedented in world history, and a sign of a very highly evolved society. Would you agree that the white races, in all their glorious diversity, were dominant in these societies, and thus made the rules?

As for the "Social Conscience = white people" thing, it's reasonable to ask why such a thing developed in North America and Europe, though your expression is quite snarky. I personally do not believe that the whiteness of the populations had anything to do with it - at least not directly. I expect that the "melting pot" nature of these societies (esp in North America) created the right conditions for this to arise. The groundwork was probably laid by the "women's suffrage" movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries. (It was rather insulting of you to suggest that I believed some smart white guys got together and figured out how society should evolve. I am not stupid, nor am I your enemy. Can we keep the discussion on a higher level?) In countries that remain racially homogeneous (for the most part) I don't see much evidence of concern for racial equality - and often not even gender equality. If there are counterexamples, I am very much open to hearing of them.

I am not excusing evil actions of former centuries, but neither am I going to buy into the fiction that the white race was any more prone to such things than any other race, as they clearly were not. And I can see no reason to allow the darkest chapter of the history of any race to taint my view of that race today. History can be a warning - object lessons - if we are wise, but there is neither wisdom nor lessons in carrying the guilt of ancient or recent ancestors as a millstone around the neck. Social injustices still exist, of course, and there are better conditions and means for addressing these in western nations than there have ever been anywhere, which is one reason why conditions continue to improve in that regard. Consider the possibility that the difficult labor of trying to keep the millstone in place may actually be a distraction - a tragic roadblock in the path of advancement.

Vacula, I have seen you and barb insist on the general culpability of the "white race" even as you call it a useless term. Then I get castigated for defending in the general terms that I was hearing. Let's agree then - there is nothing for anyone to be ashamed of for their racial characteristics, whatever they may be. I'm perfectly happy to go there. Perhaps it is human nature to give the most damning interpretation possible to the words of those whom we see as our ideological opponents. You accuse Mr. Bad of doing this to you, even as you were doing the same to me. No doubt I do the same thing.

BigCat

Aside from implied racism, the term "white pride" is just dumb. What does skin color have to do with self esteem? I do not identify as "white". I am a genealogical slav (Pole) and a cultural celt. And when I sit down to jam with a bunch of lads in Dublin, or Boston,they don't care that my name's not Flanagan or O'Brien, just that I can play in jig time. When you speak of "white pride", which of the 37 different flavors of "white" are you talking about? Swede? Dane? Brit? French? German? Greek? Czech? Each has it's own distinct culture, and quirks, and sources of pride (and shame) If, like most, you are an nth nth geration American mongrel, well America too has its own quirks and reasons for both pride and shame. And none of this has anything to do with skin pigmentation.

Interestingly, black Americans are just that. They have only their skin color as an identifier, either to themselves or to others. Whatever distinct ethnicity they originally had, Mandinka or Ashanti or Yoruba, was thrown into a blender and obliterated on the slave ship. And they have created their own distinct culture, not African nor American but really both, that has shaped our whole culture and made it distinct. Without the black influence, we'd still be a nation of British expats, independent or not, with a bunch of assimilited (or not) immigrants. In other words, just a typical EU country.

Dr E

Hugo - Just stopping in and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your original post. I think I must have read it after the questionable paragraph was deleted because I didn't see a thing wrong with it and in fact enjoyed it greatly. It is a breath of fresh air to see a white man talking about what he enjoys about his family and saying so with enthusiasm and humor. It sounds like our families have much in common though my male cousins and I hug routinely. ;>) We also have a similar love for each other. I think there are millions of other white families who share a similar joy and love though you rarely hear about them.

Great stuff Mr Bad.

Is it okay now to call people here a "fucking ass"? Or do some get special privileges?

Mr. Bad

Vacula said: "My point isn't how priviledged I was: I know a lot of people who have those opportunities and more. My point was that many people with similar backgrounds to me have lost opportunities or face more difficulties because of their race and the history of the way their race has been treated."

And that's what I'm disagreeing with: You are making the argument that racism was the dominant factor in the disparate experiences you and your friends had and I'm not buying it, instead seeing the differences in experiences being cause by cultural differences vis-a-vis networking amongst yourselves, giving each other aid and support, etc. Some cultures value this sense of community better than others and IMO that's why we see such differences among contemporary U.S sub-cultures.

"No one said only white are racists. Bringing in lynching as a carry-all term for racism is silly (for either side, Hugo or Mr. Bad or whoever) because the majority of racism is a heck of a lot more subtle and it damages a lot more lives."

Yeah, it's so subtle that most of the time it's either non-existant or insignificant compared to other factors. Thus, IMO people who feel strongly about such matters often create instances of racism where they don't actually exist.

"No one said only whites network. Why bring that up all these "they do it too!" arguments when I explicitly said that I was talking about social injustice? Obviously not everyone who is a minority is equally affected by racial inequity, just as whites are affected by "majority status/privilege" differently."

I bring up networking because as I said above, IMO your experiences differ than your friends primarily because of social network systems, not racism.

"Not caring about race will not get rid of social injustice - racism has created unbearable situations that have to be dealt with, like white flight contributing to poor educational opportunities or racial profiling leading to unequal prosecution of drug offenses. It isn't "obsessing over race" to try to change injustice. You're obsessing over race when you hear discussions of problems caused by whites somewhere sometime and respond with "it isn't my problem" and "stop blaming me." That isn't the point being made at all, stop taking it so personally."

I'm not taking it personally. What I'm objecting to is people creating cases of racism when it doesn't exist. It's not helpful to do so, and only works to perpetuate and exacerbate real racism.

Also, you and I are both free to work for "social justice," - and I encourage you to do so - however, I must insist that I be allowed to define what I believe to be "social justice" and "injustice" and not have you or anyone else do so for me.

Dr. E - thanks!

BigCat

To Whitey Ford:
I must confess I had to read your post, and mine, a couple of times to try and figure out where all the vehement disagreement came from. I didnt think I wrote anything that strident or provocative.

As I tried to explain in the next sentence or so, "white pride" seems dumb because the different types of "white" people are so different from each other that they have little in common other than skin color. Swedes and Greeks are both white but are more different from each other than white and black Americans. I certainly was not trying to bash white people as the source of all evil but pointing out that my identity is with something more specific than whiteness.

I do think that you may be too preoccupied with the "genotype" thing. I cannot choose my genotype, but I can choose my culture. My ancestry - my genotype - is slavic, specifically Polish, but the only thing I retain of that heritage is a taste for horseradish on my ham sandwich. I am far more at home in Dublin or County Clare than in Warsaw. In Poland, I think I would soon grow homesick and look for an American or a Brit or Irishman to hang out with, and a black American would be a welcome sight, especially if he was a Red Sox fan. A homie to hang with in a foreign land. Although I have not a drop of Irish blood in me I could never be homesick in Dublin. I'd be too busy playing music with my adopted homeboys. I am probably more at home there than a lot of Americans named Kelly. Certainly more so than Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly. The point is, my identity, my pride if you like is wrapped up in an adopted culture that has nothing to do with my genotype.

As to the last paragraph, my point was not so much to rag on the cruelty of the white man as to point out that the institution of slavery obliterated all traces of ethnic identity (other than "black")so that black Americans had to become something different than any of their ancestors. And yes, there are lots of new immigrants coming from Africa today. To me These are the only people that I would call African Americans. They know exactly where in Africa they came from. If you were born in Oakland or Harlem or New Orleans, you may be black, but you are no more African than I am. Indeed your roots here in America are deeper than mine. I'm only third generation.

I'm not so sure that hate crime laws do cut in only one direction. I seem to recall that a number of black offenders have been prosecuted for attacks on whites. No links I'm afraid, just a recollection, and I could be wrong, but I certainly believe that hate crimes should be tolerated from black racists no more than white ones. And I do know that black racists exist. I have a friend who likes to collect and play different kinds of drums. A few years ago he went to some kind of festival down in Brooklyn NY. In a black neighborhood. Now the curious thing is, the people who came over from Africa, Jamaica, etc. were extremely friendly and thrilled to meet an outsider who "really likes our music and knows what it's all about." Some native born young black men had a much more snooty attitude About "this white boy comin around to show off what hot sh*t he is."

Sounds to me like there's just too many chips on shoulders. I hope there's none on mine and would very much like to see them removed before someone gets hurt.

Dr E

Well, I never got a response to my question:

"Is it okay now to call people here a "fucking ass"? Or do some get special privileges?"

Without a response I am left to wonder if it is okay to call others on this forum a "fucking ass". Then again I suppose it is possible that Hugo believes himself to be a fucking ass and therefore doesn't see the post as breaking any rules? Hugo, could that be it? Or maybe he prefers to lie down and be digested by the acidic name-calling of others rather than to take a stand and enforce the rules equally for all. Something tells me that if Mr Bad had used the same phrase he might not be around too long... I suppose we will never know. sigh.

Hugo

Dr. E, you didn't see the paragraph I deleted. Barb's words were strong but perhaps warranted.

Dr E

So name calling is allowed if people's behavior warrant it? That's an interesting policy. And there I was thinking that you were afraid to enforce the rules against a feminist woman. How about that. Silly me. lol

Jordan Friedman

I'm glad you're not afraid to focus on the few but powerful positive contributions WASP culture has made to American society and culture, mainly in the areas of politeness, etiquette, clothing, and appreciation for the Arts. Now, in response to the frightening trend of people of ALL ethnic background adopting elements of hip-hop culture and anti-intellectualism, people of all cultures in America are adopting more elements of classic preppy culture to distance themselves from the prevailing mindlessness. You are right to defend your culture. However, I have a problem with it's inherent coldness. I can't imagine not hugging my relatives male or female, and I'm in the traditionally aloof teen age group! I'm willing to believe that there is genuine love transmitted without such blatant shows of affection, but if you can manage to show your love sufficiently without the use of the hug as a vehicle for your sentiments, imagine how much better still it would be if you lightened up a bit? I may be biased, as I'm from a very warm, friendly family. But I'm telling you that preppy culture and familial warmth in the sense that I prefer are compatible with each other. I come from an affluent, upper-middle class, educated, and moderately religious Jewish family. But you would never guess our cultural background from looking at us on the street, because for the most part, we have adopted a preppy/WASPy look and feel. Our family gatherings are louder than yours, with raised voices (even at dinner) and loud laughter, lots of hugs, and most importantly, intelligent conversation. But we listen to classical music, eat very WASPY food on Thanksgiving, and wear preppy clothing. We preserve essential elements of our own religious background, but we have thoroughly melded the best elements of secular Jewish culture with New England's finest, despite the fact that we're all in Chicago. I think everyone should have this eclectic collection of traditions and lifestyles. Your family could learn to be more warm, open, and down to earth, and mine could learn to be more calm and civilized. But I really am concerned that being brought up the way you were turns many otherwise good people into prudish, hypermasculine, emotion-suppressing, prejudicial people. I applaud your apparent lack of racism, homophobia, antisemitism, and ethnocentrism, but I hope you realize that among Americans with your cultural and socio-economic background, you're in the minority. I hope that changes.

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