Monday, June 8, 2009


(This is a lot more utopian than I usually swing, and I'm not entirely sure I agree with myself here or how implementation wouldn't be disastrous, but I thought the idea was interesting enough to share. Also, I'm not a Nazi or anything, I hope that at least is clear.)

We need white pride. We need male pride. We need straight pride.

Because the only way racism is going to go away is if white is just another race, with white culture and white events no more or less special than any other kind. When we have black and Latino culture but white things are just culture, we make white the default in a very unfortunate way. We should have White Entertainment Television, showing white-made programming aimed at white people, with news and politics of interest to whites, and ads for products popular among whites. Instead of just calling it "the major networks."

Likewise with other forms of discrimination and identity politics; while eliminating all divisions would be nice, given people's propensity to divide themselves and their (often perfectly reasonable) desire to stay true to their roots, another solution is to make the dominant group an identity too.

"Equal rights for women," by that standard, misses the point; it's too close to saying "women should be equal to people." Having a women's movement means that men are considered the default gender and being as good as men means you've got it made. How about equal rights for men and women? The distinction might be subtle in practice--it's not like we're going to have to raise men's wages to match women's very often--but important in philosophy. A man's right to wear a dress is just as important as a woman's right to wear pants; and a man's right to be respected in his relationships and safe from abuse can't be taken for granted. Because the only way for feminism to succeed is for women's issues to become people's issues, and the only way to do that is to treat men as a gender too.

And only when straight is just another spot on the continuum can we really have equality for gay people. When finding out that your son likes girls is an event worth noting. And when that son gets older, he can meet girls at straight bars. (Of course he can go to regular bars too, but he'll have to make some effort to look for girls who are acting stereotypically straight or who are giving him straight vibes, and there's always the chance he'll be wrong.)

Saying "but whites/men/straights already have so much privilege" is missing the point; I don't want us to have the dominant culture and White Day too, I want White Day to be a path to letting the dominant culture be truly mixed. I think there's a certain emptiness to being a generic white American these days, a feeling of not belonging to any groups, and it's that feeling that leads majority members to define "everyone, except when specified otherwise" as their group. Which frequently ends up sucking for the specified otherwise.

I really don't want to Balkanize the world further, I obviously don't think white/male/straight people should be separatists, but neither do I think they should be assumed as mainstream. I don't think their identity should go unspoken. Too often it seems like someone's race is either defined as either Black/Latino/Asian/etc. or raceless. So I'm in favor of white racial identity, because to respect other races we don't need to be apologetic, "politically correct," guilty-by-genetics; we need to be a race ourselves.


  1. I don't know. I don't necessarily think you're wrong, but most of the things I've read from gay/trans/black/what-have-you pride movements are more or less saying the same thing you are--that the whole point here is to stop making white straight men the default. Not just because it's dehumanizing to everybody else, but because it's also dehumanizing to white straight men. Everybody loses (it's just that white straight men face a lot fewer obvious tangible losses, so people don't spend as much time focusing on their problems).

    I also really wish that people would stop acting like race and culture are interchangeable. My experience--my 'cultural narrative', if you will--as the third-generation descendant of Irish factory workers is going to be a lot different than that of my Bosnian coworker. Or yours. Even though, as far as race goes, we're all white. Same also goes for other races and cultures.

    I don't have a problem with celebrating white cultures--and in fact, nobody else does, either. You don't see people bitching about Oktoberfest, or St. Patrick's Day parades, even though those are cultures that are pretty much overrun with white people. The problem is that black pride was originally a way of inverting cultural narratives about race--that is, when it came about being black was considered in and of itself a flaw, and to take that and flip it on its head was actually a pretty ballsy move. Same goes for gay pride, etc. White straight people are not and have never been systematically discriminated against for being white and straight; there's no negative connotation to be inverted, which is why in practice 'white straight pride' starts to look a lot like the KKK. And obviously that's not what you're advocating, but I think it's difficult if not impossible to ignore the historical power dynamics that went into creating pride movements in the first place.

    ...god, that was a monster. Sorry for the soapbox-standing, thanks for giving me something to think about.

  2. I agree with a lot of the things you're saying here. White people should have pride in their culture, they should also be able to think about their culture as their own. I've met a lot of Whites who feel culture-less, and I think it is because of the tendency to see the mainstream as the norm.

    I would be very cautious about redefining "mainstream" as "White", though. I like the idea of a separate White history and television networks, but things in the mainstream are not only about Whites (take Christmas and St. Patrick's Day--they have European origins but Black Americans celebrate them, too).

    But I think your main point is right: by making the dominant group visible, you can neutralize the distinctions between groups.

  3. Have you looked into your ancestry? There may be things to be proud of. I'm not sure "white pride" should be a thing, though. For one thing, it eliminates differences among "whites," and for another it starts to look like a competition.

  4. Man, I don't know what I was thinking. I don't think this post is bad enough to take down, but even I'm a bit confused what I was trying to say.

    Yeah, it is a problem that there's no unitary "white" culture. Personally, I'm Jewish much more than I'm white. But I do know a lot of white people whose knowledge of their cultural background comes down to "I guess some Scottish and some German maybe, but it's all mixed up and I'm not really anything." I guess I was thinking of that kind of person.

    What I'm really trying to say is just that dominant groups should be treated as groups themselves, but it came out all weird.

    1. That's pretty much me. Although more recently I'm starting to pull it together a bit mroe.

  5. It's not a stupid post, Holly, it just partakes in the sort of monolithic view of difference that pervades our society.

    I mean, I recall being at least as offended as amused by Martin Mull's 80's-era "History of White People in America" which treated suburban Scottsdale-types as the archetype...

    You're welcome to be white. I'm a *Cracker.*

  6. Oriscus - If you think it's stupid fuckin' say so, man.

    It is stupid, and it's the result of reading too many "tiptoe around race" posts on other blogs and understanding too few of them.

    Hey man, I'm a Jew, I'm just lookin' at this mess from the outside, right?

  7. It's really not stupid. It's trying to say something and maybe not perfect but it got across and made me think in ways I hadn't before.

    This may get ME flamed, but I drew a comparison to American blacks. In Africa, "black" isn't a relevant local identity, which tribe or tribes you are is. In America, if you're black you're composed of an unknown mix of tribes plus an equally mysterious percentage of white and maybe Indian and maybe some other stuff. Which many American whites born outside an ethnic center are; I know my "whiteness" is a mix of English, German, and whatever pale mutts were in the American south for a few hundred years plus unknown Indian and probably some black.

    Anyway. It's not stupid.

  8. Definitively not stupid.

    I dunno if you've rewritten it since early commenters, but I think your point of "We need to make White a separate culture so it's not just 'the default'" makes sense.

    Though, of course, as noted, there's a whole lot of different "White" out there, just like LabRat posted about how there's a lot of different "Black" out there. Hell, my dad is friends with Thomas Mapfumo, who's a fantastically famous musician in Zimbabwe (well, he was in Zimbabwe until Mugabe tried to have him killed a couple dozen times) and the last time I was hanging out with him, he said very similar things about "American Blacks" who basically have no flippin' idea what their original culture was like.


    Anyway, not a stupid post, and very thought provoking.

  9. I totally disagree with the idea of "white pride" and "white culture".

    First of all, I don't think there is such a thing as a "white culture". There are French, Irish, German, Italian, Russian, Swedish, English, as well as Chinese, Mexican, Swahili, and Vietnamese cultures. But there is no such things as white culture per se.

    I don't think there's even a "White American Culture". You could sensibly argue for the existence of a "Redneck Culture" (which was really originally the culture of Ulster Protestant Americans, much as it has been wrongly equated with the "white working class"), as well as a Midwestern US culture, and a Southern culture. And if you think of it Southern "blacks" and Southern "whites" share a very similar culture and would probably become more similar if racism hadn't played out the way it did.

    One excellent way to understand American society is to read David Hackett Fischer's book "Albion's Seed". It's a good paradigm of America that not only explains the Red/Blue state thing and regional differences extremely well, it also creates a picture where it's not always simple to put a line in the sane between "black" and "white" cultures. Nor between ethnic influences (Irish, Mexican, German, Chinese, Italian, Jewish, Jamaican, Puerto Rican etc.) and "mainstream American" cultures. In Fischer's schema neither the idea of "white as mainstream" nor the idea of a distinct "white American culture" hold up to scrutiny.

    For those people who are considered "white" but who feel like they have "no culture", I'd suggest that most likely they belong to one of the four key American subcultures described in the book "Albion's Seed". They could be the culture heirs to the:

    1)Puritans: New England, parts of the Midwest and Northwest.

    2) Friends: Begun by a group of Quakers from the Midlands of England who settled in the Mid-Atlantic and have spread to much of the upper Midwest and parts of the West Coast.

    3) Virginia Cavalier: This was the subculture from South England that created the South and Southern culture. If you are a "white" southerner you DO share a culture heritage with a very high percentage of African Americans, from which racism has probably prevented your family and teachers from acknowledging.

    4) Borderers: Derived from Protestants from Northern Ireland (This group differs from the Catholic majority in history, culture, and ethnic background although not all Irish Protestants do), who largely landed in Appalachia and the Ozarks, they spread to some parts of New England and New York, as well dominating much of the West Coast.

    The reality is that all virtually native born Americans no matter their ethnic roots (80% are not of British heritage at all), skin color, or religion heirs to at least one of these cultures. This is not exclusive with having another fairly distinct ethnic background. For example, I'm an Irish (Catholic) American who was influenced by a mix of the Puritan, Friend, and Borderer cultures do to some crazy life circumstances. I'm sure I have instincts coming from both all three of the four cultures, as well as from Irish culture and the Irish American experience. Many Americans could say similar things.

    This paradigm is to my mind the best alternative to both the idea of "white as normal" and the bogus idea of a clearcut "White culture".

    1. Perhaps not White but Western... I think there still is some definition to it. Not as much as racists might imagine.

  10. What about "Celebrate My Gender Day"? "Celebrate My Sexual Orientation Day"? "Celebrate My Cultural Heritage Day" ?