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January 16, 2009 9:05 AM   Subscribe

The end of white America is a cultural and demographic inevitability. "At the moment, we can call this the triumph of multiculturalism, or post-racialism. But just as whiteness has no inherent meaning—it is a vessel we fill with our hopes and anxieties—these terms may prove equally empty in the long run. Does being post-racial mean that we are past race completely, or merely that race is no longer essential to how we identify ourselves?"
posted by plexi (69 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
The most educational thing I learned in college came from a Latina classmate who explained that there are only two races in America: whites and everyone else.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:07 AM on January 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


And are us whities allowed to notice and feel uneasy about it?

Yay, we're more multicultural than Yugoslavia! Well, the former Yugoslavia, anyway.
posted by codswallop at 9:13 AM on January 16, 2009


codswallop writes "And are us whities allowed to notice and feel uneasy about it?"

No. We've treated minorities so well for so long, what is there to worry about?
posted by mullingitover at 9:18 AM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Stormfront is probably pissing all over themselves about this. Meanwhile, anyone who has been paying attention has known about the shifting demographic for at least ten years now, and probably a lot longer than that. Old news.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:19 AM on January 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


This announcement seems a bit premature. Maybe when the US senate and congress isn't super white they can start talking. Or when the majority of American CEOs are white. Or, well, you get the idea.
posted by chunking express at 9:22 AM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


No. We've treated minorities so well for so long, what is there to worry about?

Frankly I'm not worried about being kept out of the new country clubs. I'm just a little nervous about , y'know, civil unrest and wars that accompany the breakup of multiethnic states.
posted by codswallop at 9:24 AM on January 16, 2009


Does being post-racial mean that we are past race completely, or merely that race is no longer essential to how we identify ourselves?

Or it could merely be an ideal that has no bearing in present reality and that a lack of overt and external forms of racism does not mean that racism inherently built into the culture of the United States is still prevalent, real, and something that non-whites have to deal with every single day. And it will take much more than the election of a black president to destroy the status quo inherent in a white european oriented system. A change demographics doesn't mean that the culture, or who is in power, will change. It doesn't matter that whites will have less than 50% of the US population in 30 years. What matters is that whites still dominates the idea of an American culture. Destroy that and then the idea of being a post-racial society becomes a much more practical problem to deal with.
posted by Stynxno at 9:24 AM on January 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


I was sort of hoping we (people of the world, I guess, I'm not in the US) would get over this need to "identify ourselves" by things we have no influence over, like skin color, types of genitalia, or what we enjoy doing with those genitalia.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:27 AM on January 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


The irony is that by having this thread at all, it proves that we are not post-anything with respect to race. Which is good, IMO. I think race should be a topic of discussion until the point where those who consider the color of a person's skin as a determinant of his/her character are considered universally as quackish as those who still think the world is flat.

I am relatively young, from a fairly liberal part of the midwest, and I very well remember growing up next to a family whose children had made friends with a black family at school, despite the children's racist upbringing. When the parents came home and somehow discovered that a black person had not only been in their home but had been offered a glass of milk, they emptied their refrigerator into the trash, and scrubbed it inside and out. Although they moved a few years later, the memory of that insanity will always stay with me.

To suggest that we are past race -- in any way -- is both naïve and dangerous. The election of a black president is a step, but not the end by a long stretch. We've come a long way, but we still have a long, long way to go.
posted by tempestuoso at 9:28 AM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


As long as there's resources to fight over and DNA to be replicated, people will put themselves into groups based on appearance or some other arbitrary foolishness and fight over these resources and access to women.

I beleive it's really just that basic.
posted by droplet at 9:28 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


::sigh:: believe.
posted by droplet at 9:29 AM on January 16, 2009


codswallop -- about of half of the article goes into the angst that White Males are having over the shift in demographics. There's a nod to StuffWhitePeopleLike as well as a couple of anecdotes over how marketing trends have already shifted into a racially ambiguous world It would actually behoove folks not to just read the article but also read it in companionship with the other "race" article in this month's Atlantic: American Girl (on Michelle Obama in the context of post-Duboisian 'otherness' in African-American culture)
posted by bl1nk at 9:30 AM on January 16, 2009


So does anyone know where I can enroll for my PhD in White Trash Studies? I've always fancied doing a doctorate, and that subject sounds like a real cakewalk.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:32 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


To suggest that we are past race -- in any way -- is both naïve and dangerous. The election of a black president is a step, but not the end by a long stretch.

Rather like how the collapse of the Iron Curtain way back when in 1989 did not mark the beginning (as some hoped and dreamed) of "Post-History".
posted by philip-random at 9:41 AM on January 16, 2009


Does being post-racial mean that we are past race completely, or merely that race is no longer essential to how we identify ourselves?"

North Philadelphia
East New York
Camden, New Jersey
East St. Louis
Gary, Indiana
Detroit, Michigan

What do these six neighborhoods and cities have in common?

Hint: the answer does not include the word "post-racial."
posted by jason's_planet at 9:46 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be—will be utterly submerged."[...]Although Gatsby doesn’t gloss as a book on racial anxiety—it’s too busy exploring a different set of anxieties entirely—Buchanan was hardly alone in feeling besieged.

And later in the article...

Nick Carraway notices that it is a limousine “driven by a white chauffeur, in which sat three modish negroes, two bucks and a girl.” The novelty of this topsy-turvy arrangement inspires Carraway to laugh aloud and think to himself, “Anything can happen now that we’ve slid over this bridge, anything at all …”

It's too bad that the author of the article doesn't seem familiar with the theory from a few years ago that Gatsby was black. The theory goes that Gatsby was trying to pass himself off as white, which certainly explains Gatsby's hiding his past and all the references to race in the book as well as a factor of Buchanan's hostility to Gatsby. It is also consistent with the physical description of Gatsby as being very tan with close-cropped hair. It's subtle but I think the book may have been a bigger comment on race in America than Fitzgerald let on.

Salon.com Books | Was Gatsby black?
posted by bobo123 at 9:47 AM on January 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


From codswallop:
Frankly I'm not worried about being kept out of the new country clubs. I'm just a little nervous about , y'know, civil unrest and wars that accompany the breakup of multiethnic states.

You're only worrying about that now? You've had that problem since the days of slavery. So long as there exists, within a set of national borders, two or more tribes with wildly divergent positions of social, political and economic power -- without peaceful or legal avenues for adjusting that imbalance, then you will always have a potential for unrest.

The thing is that the tribes don't even have to be racial. Consider the Thirty Years War or even the Irish Troubles as examples of people of the same racial identity destroying each other over religious grounds. Consider language based conflicts, as in the constant fight to include Basque as a recognized language of Spain and the turmoil and strife that this has spawned.

The solution to these issues is not a matter of cultural hegemony -- of suggesting that so long as one tribe maintain dominance, it will suppress all others. That is one model that works for some countries, but not one such as the States which has hetergenous tribal equality woven into its founding mythology. The alternate solution is equilibrium and balance between all tribes.
posted by bl1nk at 9:47 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


There are more women than men but that hasn't stopped us from being male-dominated. Old institutions die hard.
posted by DU at 9:47 AM on January 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


so, we're post-racial according to whom?
posted by shmegegge at 9:52 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was sort of hoping we (people of the world, I guess, I'm not in the US) would get over this need to "identify ourselves" by things we have no influence over, like skin color, types of genitalia, or what we enjoy doing with those genitalia.

I'll get over the need to identify myself as a nonwhite lesbian when people stop trying to narrow my rights because of those traits.
posted by rtha at 9:54 AM on January 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm happy someone else posted this, because I wanted to but I also really wanted to link to a previous comment of mine from a few weeks ago which I don't think anyone read but which interprets that “Periodic Table of Awesoments” thing basically as an expression of the younger/interneter edges of the culture this article claims is the cause of the market dominance of Garth Brooks and NASCAR. (And I knew I shouldn't do that in an FPP.)

In part:
Like blacks' reclamation of 'the N word' and homosexuals' (and allies) reclamation of 'fag', this strikes me as a reclamation by a certain kind of dork of that which has in the past been used against them: their love of video games, action movies, uncool music (Metal, Guitar Solo), Lego, and violence-by-proxy. I think the creator knows these things aren't “cool,” but (I'm gonna go out on a limb and gender it) he appears to be claiming them as his own under the banner of “awesome.” It says to me: 'Yeah, I know this stuff isn't cool, but I don't care about that shit, it's obviously awesome.' This strikes me as a justification of the otherwise unjustifiable values of a threatened-feeling culture. This is weak white dork culture. It holds fast to an immoral privilege because it knows it has nothing else.

(As, globally, the decline of white privilege tentatively begins (mostly I'm thinking here: Obama; rise of China), I expect to see in those whites whose most valuable attribute is simply being white increasingly desperate and tautological claims on status solely on the basis of their whiteness.2)

2 Which is of course how racism presently works and has always worked.
Anyway, sort of like Stynxno and tempestuoso are saying, I find the use of 'post-racial' in this article to be totally ridiculous. I can't think of a way to describe the phenomenon the article talks about that less means what it says. Just say what you mean, journalists! Don't use dumb lingo.
posted by skwt at 10:02 AM on January 16, 2009


On preview: like Stynxno and tempestuoso and shmegegge are saying...
posted by skwt at 10:03 AM on January 16, 2009


Rather like how the collapse of the Iron Curtain way back when in 1989 did not mark the beginning (as some hoped and dreamed) of "Post-History".

We'll be post-racial and post-history when post-Human Black people get cultural revenge by stealing post-rock from White people.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:07 AM on January 16, 2009


The most educational thing I learned in college came from a Latina classmate who explained that there are only two races in America: whites and everyone else.

I don't know about that. I know it's trying to help, but I don't think it does. Word-for-word that statement could come from a white supremacist.
posted by naju at 10:08 AM on January 16, 2009


(In other words, let's try not to fit incredibly complex issues into an incredibly simplistic framing.)
posted by naju at 10:13 AM on January 16, 2009


TOCT: Nobody wants our postrock :(

Nobody wants tired old racial politics slogans or concerns either. Those distinctions are becoming meaningless, and new inequalities are emerging. Like attractiveness.

So specifically I am requesting equal opportunity programs for chubby nerds to marry hot bi-racial models. Call it "Project Greenlight-at-the-end-of-the-dock".
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:17 AM on January 16, 2009


Bear in mind, that a century ago, the definition of "white" in America did not include people of Irish or Eastern European extraction. As those ethnic groups gained a place in American middle and upper class society, the definition of white expanded to include them.

So it's likely that the concept of race won't disappear, nor will the concept of being white. What will happen is that whiteness will expand to include other ethnicities. Already you have someone like Obama being "accused" of being white not only by black activists, but by very white Republicans as well. So depressing as it may be, I think the most likely course is that fifty or a hundred years from now the majority of the country will be considered white, irrespective of the color of their skin.
posted by happyroach at 10:17 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does it matter? We'll find other reasons to hate 'different'. Like where a person prefers to put his penis. Or what spaghetti monster he worships.
posted by spicynuts at 10:20 AM on January 16, 2009


We'll be post-racial and post-history when post-Human Black people get cultural revenge by stealing post-rock from White people.

Wouldn't that be "reclaiming" rather than "stealing", seeing as how black people invented rock in the first place? No, they need to go after polka. Then the cycle will be complete.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:22 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Prussian Blue.

Seriously, I really doubt balkanization scenarios for America. In most of the places this ocurred, it was due to several pre-existing very old nations (ethnic AND geographic) being lumped together into one artificial country, then said country breaking back down into nation states. Except for maybe (and this is a very unlikely maybe) hispanics in the southwest, there's no such thing as various ethnic nation-states in the US. Kooky Russian fanfic writers aside, no geographic region of America has really strong ties to some minority ethnic group. If any division occurs, it's going to be more like the Jesusland map (trans-racial cultural/political issues) than "chinese here, mexicans there, whities over there".

One interesting thing is that while the country isn't balkanized, the cities
generally are (see the various chinatowns and little italies). Which makes all this talk about "post-racial" bullshit. In any big city each ethnic group has its own cultural silo, which ends up reinforcing archetypes about "East Indians" or "Koreans", because you still actually see Indians being Indian and Koreans being Korean whenever you walk down the right neighbourhood. And that's what gets the white supremacists/separatists/whatever-the-word-for-white-trash-is-these-days all worked up. They see a couple brown people speaking "brown" in the street and go all "waaah they're taking over, they're taking over". But there really isn't ethnic/racial tension strong enough to tear the country apart going around, as much as these guys like to fabricate it.

And of course on the other hand you have the middle-aged liberal douchebag spewing this "post-racial" crap that someday people will look at some Indian guy and will not have a statistically-backed educated guess on the probability of that guy liking curry. Hell, the Irish have been assimilated into the US forever, and people still make "drinking, fighting and beating the wife" jokes.
posted by qvantamon at 10:38 AM on January 16, 2009


As those ethnic groups gained a place in American middle and upper class society, the definition of white expanded to include them.

But there are some significant problems for two of the minority groups involved. African-Americans have such a distinct place and culture in American history that merging will simply not happen. There will be crossover, but likely no unification. This is a reality we have to learn to live with.

Latinos certainly have the possibility to merge like previous European immigrants, and many have done so in the whole of history, but as long as illegal immigration from Mexico is considered a hot political issue there will be a great difficulty in this happening. I find it kind of amusing that when I was growing up no one seemed to give a second thought to the Mexican immigrants in our neighborhood - they were just more immigrants like all our grandparents. Nowadays, with the massive politicization of the issue, people would probably go crazy at the same family's presence.
posted by cimbrog at 10:51 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've never thought perceived race was a valid form of identification. This has frustrated me my entire life.

I've always felt we should be beyond skin colour and other obvious physical differences by now, since we're capable of understanding that our differences are based on geology, climate, and other adaptations to wherever our ancestors spent the most time and we're otherwise perfectly compatible for mating (in fact, we seem to be mostly improved when we diversify our genetic pools) and are capable of adjusting to other cultures.

Cultural differences shouldn't be used as separators, either, in my opinion, but that's met with even less acceptance. I feel like since we can adapt, we can also understand why others would feel bound to their culture and, as long as they don't hurt anyone, should be celebrated instead of feared or mocked.

With all of the information we have now, with everything we understand about the world and the people on it - as imperfect as that understanding remains, it is far more information than we've had even a hundred years ago - we should be working on making ourselves the best world possible altogether for every Earthling. I believe our planetary union is more important than any other determinant and we should all be working to move beyond the artificial boundaries that influence the xenophobia and violence we are so shamefully still engaging in.

I've spent my whole life eager for when we're all able to be okay with a global population of mostly blended cultures/physical types. It would be a relief to me for us to finally be there.
posted by batmonkey at 10:52 AM on January 16, 2009


to my fellow White Men (Pand their women):
Fret not. There may be more of "them," but we will still have most of the money. If they want welfare checks, they will still have to kiss our asses.
posted by Postroad at 11:02 AM on January 16, 2009


Postroad: Disgusting.

As a honky, I say good riddance to the lot of us.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:04 AM on January 16, 2009


These threads always go well. Also, I think Postroad was making a joke. I hopes.
posted by chunking express at 11:10 AM on January 16, 2009


rtha: I think you misunderstood me a little. I'm not saying you shouldn't have those traits, I'm just complaining a little about how people seem to assume that their entire essence is defined by a couple of traits that are somewhat arbitrarily chosen from all the traits those people have, and are also things they had no choice in.

For what it's worth, I think that applies to people identifying as "Americans", "Irish-Americans", "BDSM", or whatever.

I just find it weird that people take "pride" in these non-chosen things, or feel like they don't know who they are if they can't pidgeonhole themselves into a category like that and then spend time with people who identify similarly.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:11 AM on January 16, 2009


cimbrog:
In my experience (in the Northwest) it's quite the opposite regarding blacks. What I generally see around is the distinction between "American" (which mostly includes middle/upper class blacks, and Asians) and "damn furr'ner takin' our jorbs" (Indians, Mexicans... as you mentioned, primarily because of the immigration hot button, but also because of the accent and language, respectively).
Like, as long as they're well dressed, a black guy or an Asian guy can be assumed to be anything (maybe a CEO, or a doctor, or politician), but a well-dressed Indian guy is certainly a tech support guy (as opposed to the non-well-dressed one, which is a 7-11 cashier or taxi driver), and a Latino is the gardener or something.
If we're going to talk "next definition of white", my bet would be more on "speaks English without an accent, dresses like an American and listens to American music" than on "has some kind of white/European ancestry".
posted by qvantamon at 11:15 AM on January 16, 2009


I've spent my whole life eager for when we're all able to be okay with a global population of mostly blended cultures/physical types. It would be a relief to me for us to finally be there.

Maybe. Maybe not.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 11:17 AM on January 16, 2009


Speaking of tribalism, there's this story today: Japan’s Outcasts Still Wait for Acceptance
posted by etaoin at 11:19 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Was Gatsby black?

I think post-graduate English departments are as good an argument for the eradication of white people as anything else.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:22 AM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


as far as whites being "devoid of culture"--i find that this is pointing to the loss of specific ethnic identity. because my father is a recent immigrant, i have a strong connection to my Norwegian ethnic identity. which, BTW, was somewhat strengthened by moving to a place where there are many others with that same ethnic identification--meaning a conscious preservation of specific cultural traditions.

on the other side of my family, they are basically white american mongrels, with faulty memory of ethnic identification. (we recently discovered our earliest immigrant ancestor was Danish, rather than Dutch, for example. the family operated for generations under a false presumption, and with no connection to any ethnic traditions whatsoever.)

guess which side of the family has the strongest racist tendencies?

by losing cultural traditions, it seems, there is a stronger need to identify with a *race*. i mean, okay--we're all "Americans", but that melting pot idea really messed us up, i think.

by denying and forgetting where we came from, we seem to have done a bad job of replacing our ethnic traditions with anything that we feel deeply. modern marketing has capitalized on that void in ways that continue to leave us feeling empty.

so, IMO, either european-americans have to work consciously to recover some of their ethnic identity, or create real tangible cultural traditions that aren't driven by commercial interests.
posted by RedEmma at 11:30 AM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


There goes the neighborhood!
posted by doctorschlock at 11:35 AM on January 16, 2009


as far as whites being "devoid of culture"--i find that this is pointing to the loss of specific ethnic identity. because my father is a recent immigrant, i have a strong connection to my Norwegian ethnic identity.

I'm glad you brought this up, RedEmma. I had a conversation with a couple of Americans last year where they were basically saying that claims of ties to certain ethnic backgrounds are all basically bunk and meaningless. (which is certainly not how it's treated in eastern European, Canadian family). "So... you don't have anyone in the family speaking the langauge?" No. "You don't celebrate different holidays... eat particular ethnic foods on those holidays?" No. "... Religious influence? Community ties?" No. "Oh... Yeah, I guess I can see why you feel that way."

No idea if that carried with it any sense of a "threat" from other races/ethnicities, but I certainly found that illuminating.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:40 AM on January 16, 2009


It's interesting that the underlying assumption of this "End of White America" is about shifting power of demographics, rather than, say, accepting everyone who is American as Americans. Because, you know, if people were doing the latter, they wouldn't have assumed American = white in the first place.
posted by yeloson at 11:50 AM on January 16, 2009


I don't see what the big fuss is about. I'm looking forward to institutionally oppressing those degenerate caucasoids. They do nothing but waste their ill gotten wealth and have the temerity to ask for massive handouts from our good government. I wouldn't mind having a nice well spoken white fellow to mow the lawn and tend the begonia garden. As long as he's got documentation, you know.
posted by Mister Cheese at 11:52 AM on January 16, 2009


I'm so glad someone posted this. I think the question of "are we post-racial or aren't we (and what does that even mean)?" is much less interesting than the more nuanced ideas the author brings up. Among them, this passage:

Matt Wray, a sociologist at Temple University who is a fan of Lander’s humor, has observed that many of his white students are plagued by a racial-identity crisis: “They don’t care about socioeconomics; they care about culture. And to be white is to be culturally broke. The classic thing white students say when you ask them to talk about who they are is, ‘I don’t have a culture.’ They might be privileged, they might be loaded socioeconomically, but they feel bankrupt when it comes to culture … They feel disadvantaged, and they feel marginalized. They don’t have a culture that’s cool or oppositional.” Wray says that this feeling of being culturally bereft often prevents students from recognizing what it means to be a child of privilege—a strange irony that the first wave of whiteness-studies scholars, in the 1990s, failed to anticipate.

If in fact we're raising a whole generation of white people to believe that they're culturally broke AND to not recognize the privilege they still enjoy, then we're may end up with a whole new race-based set of problems on our hands that will manifest in ways we haven't even begun to think about.
posted by janet lynn at 11:58 AM on January 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


If we're going to talk "next definition of white", my bet would be more on "speaks English without an accent, dresses like an American and listens to American music" than on "has some kind of white/European ancestry".

The point here wasn't as much "the next definition of white", but rather that what is white will expand even more and what is not will become a little whiter. There will always be immigrants who speak with an accent and keep their culture - see Little Italy, China, etc. But those tend to be enclaves where the majority of the remaining immigrants shift towards... well, I guess we're using the term "whiteness", but I don't think that's accurate. In addition, it isn't necessarily the immigrant his/herself that will ever be accepted fully, but their children and grandchildren. If we ever get over our hot-button political issues with immigrants, the descendants of Mexican immigrants should be just fine in time.

My point about African-Americans is that as they aren't immigrants, their culture is an American one that has always been running along beside the "white" one, and will probably always continue to do so. I as said, there will be crossover, but not absorption.
posted by cimbrog at 12:06 PM on January 16, 2009


I'm all in favour of this upcoming pluralistic society but...

And to be white is to be culturally broke.

Oh, please. Walk into any book store, any art gallery, any movie cinema. Even any record store - hip hop might be mostly created by African Americans but it's mostly consumed by whites.

By the way, I found the initial article sort of annoying because the one new "culture" they point out is hip hop, which to me appears to mostly be worship of American "white" consumer culture.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:23 PM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure the Atlantic article really has a coherent thesis (Are we post-racial or aren't we? Is whiteness about demographics or power?), but I do find the discussion of whiteness studies to be fascinating. Especially the connection between the search for white culture/identity and the search for authenticity. I really do think this struggle with "what is white culture?" combined with increased awareness/mainstream exposure of issues like cultural appropriation has yielded some pretty confused white folks. See also, hipster culture.
posted by lunit at 12:50 PM on January 16, 2009


Wouldn't that be "reclaiming" rather than "stealing", seeing as how black people invented rock in the first place?

You didn't see what I did there :(
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:56 PM on January 16, 2009


I find it annoying when people call "American" culture "White culture", When I first saw "Stuffwhitepeoplelike" it was all stuff that could and was enjoyed by people of any race, but seemed to be geared towards stuff liked by wealthier effete liberals (the "latte sipping Prius driver" set).

That said, there is a huge amount of over-thinking going on in this thread.
posted by delmoi at 1:03 PM on January 16, 2009


But the whole idea of "ethinic traditions" is only going to get more and more muddled for everyone as racial and cultural mixing continues. I mean, i can look at my family tree, and it's basically all of Europe (since on both sides it goes back quite a ways in America). So it's pretty hard to identify with any specific ethnic group other than "European", which actual Europeans would find ridiculously broad.

But that is already true for many blacks (I mean, "African" is pretty broad as well, and many slave descendants don't have detailed genealogies), and gets even more complicated for mixed-race individuals, especially children who are second or third generation mixed (I mean, what does Tiger Woods identify with)?

So I think attaching too much importance to historical ethnicities that for many of us were centuries ago is going the wrong way. If you crave traditions, just create/carry down whatever ones your family wants, regardless of their origins.

(Of course, I'm one of those people who really doesn't care about such things, so maybe I'm not "getting" some need other people have --- much like with religion).
posted by wildcrdj at 1:12 PM on January 16, 2009


I wish the author didn't draw a false correlation between demographic change and the end of white supremacy. Though there is, perhaps, evidence to suggest an end to white America demographically (if the definition of "white" doesn't change again, like it's been known to do), there is no evidence to suggest that the "end of white America is a cultural...inevitability." I suspect the tendency to draw that correlation is behind much of this "is America post-racial?" speculation, and it's incredibly irritating.
posted by lunit at 1:34 PM on January 16, 2009


Does this mean upper middle class black guys are going to try to be my friend because I'm so "authentic"?
posted by electroboy at 1:40 PM on January 16, 2009


Like Joe Beese's classmate, the article seems to be arguing from a dichotomous-yet-idealized idea of race, and it's a bit silly to me. Even if every Ron Howard lookalike in the USA magically transformed into 50 Cent overnight, there's enough Black-on-Latin, Korean-on-Black, Latin-on-Arab, Arab-on-Indian, everyone-on-everyone racism to keep this whole place simmering with hostility until we're all post-human anyway.
posted by Amanojaku at 1:47 PM on January 16, 2009


Wow, I totally missed a big chunk of the main article. My post is somewhat less than germane to it as a whole, then. I apparently fail at the internet.
posted by Amanojaku at 1:59 PM on January 16, 2009


Still, all the white midgets taking on all the black midgets would be a cool movie.

“We've treated minorities so well for so long, what is there to worry about?”
Who’s ‘we’ kemosabe? (pendejo? cracker? etc.)

Just give everyone a fat horn section as back up, like the Ides of March with ‘Vehicle,’ then everyone will be too cool and transcend the concept of race and ethnicity.

Every time you’re gonna say something, just think of that as a preface - Baaaaa! Buh naaa nuh nu Naaaaaaaa!: ‘x’
So Baaaaa! Buh naaa nuh nu Naaaaaaaa!: Great Gawd in heaven miss, can I have some mo-oh-aohre coffee-ee, please?
posted by Smedleyman at 2:16 PM on January 16, 2009


> I was sort of hoping we (people of the world, I guess, I'm not in the US) would get over
> this need to "identify ourselves" by things we have no influence over

If that's the goal then we were dumb to pick monkeys as ancestors.
posted by jfuller at 2:17 PM on January 16, 2009


You could really see a contrast between the audiences at the Democratic and Republican conventions last year. The Republicans were old white people and the Democrats looked like what America looks like: a broad range of ages, ethnic groups, etc. I'm afraid the Republicans are going to play upon divisiveness and fear more and more as the demographic balance changes.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:24 PM on January 16, 2009


Been thinking about this post and thread all day. Having lived in a lot of countries and sold African art for many years I've had a chance to observe racism, prejudice and colorism up close and in a number of different environments for a long time.

A bunch of mosaic pieces as I pondered this race issue:

When I lived in a small village in Northern India the locals were prejudiced about the villagers a couple of miles down the road. "Those people" were ridiculed in particular for pronouncing the word for ant in a different way, reversing syllables. Not kamori but makori. It was insane to me to listen to the contempt heaped on people just over the hill. Same race, same language, same religion, same geography.

I've observed this insanity in NYC. Manhattanites denigrating "the bridge and tunnel people". Same race, same color, same religion, same geography.

In India the word for caste is varna: color and the injustices perpetrated with this longstanding social decision have been mind bogglingly awful.

All over the planet there is prejudice about whiter skin being preferred as more attractive and darker skin denigrated among people of the same race, same religion, same geography.

People all over the world have had slaves, including black Africans having black African slaves. However, it is usually lighter skinned Africans having darker skinned slaves, even if their are of the same race, same religion and same geography eg the Black Moors (Haratins) as slaves to the White Moors (Beydan) in the Atlas mountains of Mauritania.

When I went to visit my Tibetan Buddhist teacher, after having spent some time sunbathing, he remarked, "What's happened!? Are you sick?! You're so black!" Tibetans, like all Asians, are very prejudiced against darker skin.

Spike Lee's brilliant examination of skin and hair prejudice among black Americans in his movie, Jungle Fever.

Ultimately the prejudice against darker skin - in whatever nationality or race- is going to be an interesting issue. Human territoriality, color prejudices, pride, arrogance and snobbery will still exist, whatever the races, religions, creeds, nationalities or their percentages in the USA. Those, imo, are the core issues, not merely the actual number of this race or that. and how will we humans find a way to heal that militant ignorance?
posted by nickyskye at 3:08 PM on January 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


This is good and all, but we're not there yet. For example, what about the continued and centuries-old Japanese dominance of Japan. Before Europeans even had sailboats, the ethnic elite of Japan - the Japanese - have dominated all aspects of Japanese social life. Ethnic Japanese not only constituted 100% of the ruling class of Japan, but also virtually every other class as well. This blatant and massive discrimination continues in Japan to this day. What's more, there are absurdly racist anti-immigration laws in effect in Japan, essentially allowing this racist society to continue indefinitely. Honestly, it makes me sick. And it's not just Japan. We're talking China, Israel, Sweden, Korea. The author of this article makes a great point, but he is blind to the fact that racism is not just a problem in America; it's a worldwide problem. The solution, of course, is a One-World government, in which all national borders are dissolved, and human-pairing is randomized and enforced by law.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 4:02 PM on January 16, 2009


nickyskye:

Then there's the times and circumstances where the aesthetic flips. Ganguro, "tall, dark, and handsome", disdain for the pallor of nerds/geeks/bookworms. Beach culture. Tanning salons, tanning-spray booths, self-tanners, moisturizers with labels exclaiming "Now with a touch of tan!!"
posted by CKmtl at 4:32 PM on January 16, 2009


CKmtl, the paradox is that whiter people end up valuing darker skin, enjoying the -to them- exotic beauty of it and mirroring that back to society. I do love that Western culture has become and is becoming diverse.
posted by nickyskye at 5:07 PM on January 16, 2009


"Welcome to post-racial America! I am the face of post-racial America. Deal with it Cate Blanchett!"
posted by azarbayejani at 5:14 PM on January 16, 2009


I think white people value darker skin because it is slimming and hides flaws.

Of course, I may miss things. All this time I though StuffWhitePeopleLike was a painfully lame bid for attention - now I read it means something. Color me surprised.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:17 PM on January 16, 2009


I think there's also an aspect of aspiring to look like the well-off.

When being well-off means not having to toil outside all day, pale is hot. When it means being able to afford to play around in the sun a lot, darker is hot.

It'd be interesting to see if a similar flips start happening in Africa, India, and Asia.
posted by CKmtl at 5:48 PM on January 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I can't wait to be a member of a minority that controls everything, just like the Jews.
posted by XMLicious at 5:50 PM on January 16, 2009


or the former South African government. (can't believe that hasn't been mentioned yet)
posted by desjardins at 6:19 PM on January 16, 2009


They don't care about socio economics, they care about culture... ‘I don’t have a culture.’...They don't have a culture that's cool or oppositional

Totally missed that bit about Matt Wray, great pull out Janet Lynn. It's not a very generous portrait, I mean it's a complete abdication of responsibility and loss of faith in our institutions, as if the only authentic culture is the culture of opposition. They want the social veneration of being credibly oppositional (for the sake of it or because they believe there's something broke?) without acknowledging their place in or responsibility for the structures opposed. In a way Obama's political and socio economic emphasis on the common good seems to me one of the most eloquent affirmations of equality, which is a western, enlightenment value and as white as it comes and his tentative requests for a popular participation in government is only the latest iteration in a very white tradition of representative democracy. I don't mean to say white people have to be saved from themselves, but God damn, there is no point in being cool and oppositional when you have work to do.
posted by doobiedoo at 7:17 PM on January 16, 2009


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