Is anti-racism primarily responsible for a white identity?

In a Clubhouse discussion back in February, an immigrant to the U.S. from China said that, in her opinion, our roughly nine months (so far) of #BLM and #SocialJustice was the primary driver behind people perniciously identifying as “white”. As far as she was concerned, prior to all of the efforts in “anti-racism”, people who happened to be white would primarily identify as “Italian” or “German-American” or “New Yorker” or “Dentist” or whatever. But with the constant media drumbeat of Black vs. white, Asian vs. white, and Pacific Islander vs. white, the former “Anglo-Scotch-American” now identifies as “white”.

Speaking of Pacific Islanders, how many white Americans know what a “Pacific Islander” is? Is there an organized group of white Americans who hate people from the Marquesas and Kiribati? Amazon thinks that there is. This look at my Amazon Prime app on launch, punctuated by a “We stand in solidarity with Asian and Pacific Islander communities. #StopAsianHate”, should give you a good idea of what life is like in our household….

Or maybe Amazon’s Artificial Intelligence has figured out that people who watch Foghorn Leghorn are haters of Melanesians? There are quite a few problematic Foghorn Leghorn quotes:

  • “That woman’s as cold as a nudist on an iceberg” (Cuomo after a typical meeting with voters?)
  • “He’s so dumb he thinks a Mexican border pays rent”
  • “Hmmm, bare, I say bare as a cooch dancers midriff” (Hunter Biden?)
  • “That dog’s like taxes, he just don’t know when to stop”
  • “Gal reminds me of a highway between Forth Worth and Dallas – no curves”
  • Foghorn Leghorn : Let me guess, dearie. You’re looking for a husband.” Miss Prissy : Yes! Foghorn Leghorn : “Well, you’re going about it the wrong way, sister. You don’t bat ’em on the bean with a rolling pin. That comes later.”

but none of these bash our brothers, sisters, and binary resisters spread out on the other side of the International Date Line.

(The #StopAsianHate signs have begun to sprout in the Boston suburbs, incidentally, sometimes displacing #BLM signs and LGBTQIA+ rainbow symbols.)

Related:

  • “I Am Not Ready to Reenter White Society” (The Nation): As the pandemic wanes, and I have to leave the safety of my whiteness-free castle, I know that racism is going to come roaring back into my daily life. … Going out into white society for me is a little bit like a beekeeper going to get honey. I know what I’m doing: If I put on the right protection and blow enough smoke, most of the bees will leave me alone and the ones who don’t won’t really cause me that much pain. But I’ve got to put on the suit and the hat with the mesh and carry the smoke machine and be careful every time I want some goddamn honey. … With vaccination (I get my second shot next week) comes reentry into the larger society. I’ve been the “default” skin color in my personal life for a year, but as I open back up, I’ll be thrust again into a world where I’m treated like an “other,” one where white people feel empowered to just walk around like they own the place.
  • “Captain Underpants author withdraws book over ‘passive racism'” (Guardian): The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future, first published in 2010, follows two cavemen who travel to the year 2222 and meet Master Wong, a martial arts instructor. Last week, publisher Scholastic announced that it would stop distributing the book and remove all mention of it from its website, saying it had “the full support” of Pilkey. “Together, we recognise that this book perpetuates passive racism,” Scholastic said. “We are deeply sorry for this serious mistake.” (From Amazon, where the not-banned book was offered at $680, a 2017 review: “but what got to me about this book was Master Wong and his granddaughter Lan. Omg talk about drawing stereotypical Asian people! When master wong first appeared with his thin, line eyes (I’m not kidding, he literally has lines for eyes) I gritted my teeth and just continued reading. Sure, some Asians have small eyes, nothing wrong with that. But then Lan, Master Wong’s granddaughter also has the same damn line eyes! Like seriously bruh! You gonna draw Asians using this ancient ass stereotype? I would have deducted from the name Wong, the kung fu shop, and master Wong’s traditional Chinese outfit that he was Asian. I know it’s a kids book and people may say, don’t take it so seriously. But it’s micro aggressions like this that children who read this book will learn! Kids DO pick up on this stuff. Trust me, I’ve seen too many kids while I was growing up making pulling their eyes to make the slanted ‘Asian eyes.‘ It wasn’t funny then, and it’s not funny now, as it appears in this Pilkey book.” (a good barometer of social change; the book was universally acclaimed in 2011 and was too racist to sell in 2021)

7 thoughts on “Is anti-racism primarily responsible for a white identity?

  1. The amazing thing about Foghorn Leghorn is that he is based on a radio character named Senator Beauregard Claghorn from The Fred Allen Show. I doubt anyone today remembers Claghorn or Allen, yet the giant rooster lives on…

  2. Segregation (legal elevation of “white identity”) was enforced by American law until 1968. Racial discussions without historical context are very dishonest.

    • Leinad: the discussion related above was initiated by a person who identifies as a Chinese woman. Your accusation that the discussion is “very dishonest” is therefore an example of Asian Hate (#NotStopped) and misogyny….

  3. I’ve been hearing for years about how Americans are so ignorant of geography that many of them can’t find the Pacific Ocean on a globe, so it’s not that surprising that Amazon PR people think that Pacific islands are part of Asia. It certainly shows how much they _really_ care about Asia and the Pacific islands that they can’t even tell them apart, though.

  4. Hmmm. Perhaps she’s on to something there. I’m technically Polish-American by dint of my surname, but my father made the mistake of interbreeding with a woman whose ancestry is Dutch, French and German. As a result I’ve never been comfortable with identifying as “Polish-American” or “West Slavic” since I do have some vestigial connection and interest in my maternal heritage (I’m a distant descendant of Thomas Jefferson.) Maybe I should reconsider and attempt to use “Polish-American” to signify my membership in a victimhood group — the problem being that practically nobody considers them to be such, and there’s no real advantage to be gained.

    In fact, my paternal grandfather was quite strict and stern about raising all of his children, including my Dad, to deliberately downplay and eschew their Polish heritage. He forbade his children to learn Polish as anything other than an occasional pursuit. There were no Polish Eagles in the household, he didn’t fly the Solidarność flag (although he was profoundly anti-totalitarian, both the fascist and communist flavors) and there were really no outward hint about our Polishness except for some of the food my grandmother made.

    I remember his pronouncements on a couple of occasions: “We speak ENGLISH in this house. We are AMERICANS.” And that was THAT. The language was never spoken around the household except during family holiday gatherings, and for the occasional muttered epithet or curse. One of my aunts didn’t like his strictures and learned it on her own because she considers herself to be the family historian. I would rate her production at this late date as “rusty” at best. I speak maybe 30 words of it.

    As a result I’ve always just identified myself as “American” when anyone asked, and if they asked for my race I’ve said: “Caucasian.” But recently I do find myself feeling I should say: “white” with a lower-case W of course, to avoid the implication that I think Blacks are not supreme. I attribute that to the recent Movements.

    Question: I wonder if all these apologies, confessions and self-censorship regarding alleged microaggressions actually having an effect constitute a de facto admission by media and entertainment companies that the content of their music, movies and other items actually do influence people’s behavior. MTV has been pumping increasingly raw and potent sewage into American households, aimed primarily at young people, for more than 40 years. Don’t all of these Woke confessions constitute a bold admission that Yes, In Fact, This Garbage We Spew Out At Children Makes a Difference In Society?

    • Separately: In middle and junior high schools, my public school district in northern NJ had some very good foreign language instructors, at least when I was young in the late 70s and early 80s. As a result I took a full year of Spanish and a half year each of French and German. Although my pronunciation and production of those three languages is very rusty, I could probably get by in any country where those were native, particularly if we’re talking Spanish. I read Spanish quite well and with a month or two of practice I would be an Intermediate speaker and writer.

      So I know much more Spanish than I do Polish, and a good deal more German and French as well. I used to speak Spanish with one of my close friends from childhood, now a physician at a very large hospital in NJ. He’s Italian-American, but we were fairly well-matched in Spanish and we’d switch to it when we didn’t want anyone else to know what we were talking about. We also had a completely unique “auxiliary” or “constructed” language that we spoke amongst ourselves, with a couple of other pals, which we dubbed: “Nunguggo.” Nobody ever successfully cracked it, but it was decipherable with effort. I don’t think anyone really tried, and people just thought we were weird.

  5. By the way I hope someone in the still-free part of the Internet has faithfully preserved a copy of Ook & Gluk because I have a soft spot in my heart for all Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future.

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