Saturday, May 14, 2005

Questioning Color

I have been accused of focusing too much on race issues which led me to wonder, " Do White people think about whiteness as much as I think about my non-whiteness?"

Well apparently the protagonist of this book does.


Blogger Debra said...

I thikn it really depends on how it's presented to you. No, I didn't look at the link, but will after.

I never noticed race at all until a few years ago when it became apparent that large number of my family would hate the idea of me being involved with someone "non-white" though they'd never admit it.

And up until my Grandpa died, I'll have to admit that I would reconsider people based on that because what would he think? *sigh*

But I don't think without having a reason, even a shallow one, that white people think about it as much as those who's cultures may be swamped in being non-white. My best friend is half Korean, and she thinks of herself as being white, American, ect. But she stresses over men she dates only being white because her Mom has taught her only white people are worthy of her. It comes from so many places I think.

Anyway, the real reason I came in tonight...

Please change your links and/or book marks to me if you have them.

5/15/2005 12:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Janine said...

Such a good question! Personally, I don't think they do. They don't have to cause they're the 'people' and everyone else is not-white.

I've always said that that's one of the advantages they have. They think of themselves as 'people' and so don't have the inherent limitations that labels incurr. You know what I mean? Labels box the perception into preconceived notions, prejudices. The label of 'person' or 'human' doesn't transmit that garbage.

5/16/2005 05:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a white guy, and a white guy who does think about color a fair amount for a white guy, I do think that Janine is right on in her answer about the general tendency among whites. They do not think about color as much as non-whites. They don't have to. You only have to watch television and realize the mindset going on in all the programming and ads to see how true it is.

(Speaking of which, I call myself white reflexively because I was raised to think of myself as white, but the fact is that I'm visually dark enough to pass as Pakistani or Latino or who knows's the Sicilian quadrant of my family, who put a lot of effort into try to pass as Irish in the 20's and 30's. There's probably all sort of gypsy and North African genes going back only a couple generations, but the info has been lost.)

The media propogates these mindsets. Some of it is a conscious political attempt to shape culture or maintain a status quo. But it is also unconscious ignorance, reflecting the thoughts of people who haven't been forced to know better. Doesn't make it less violent or destructive, of course.

The idea of whites being "people" and others being "the other" is probably connected to a basic human nature tendency...which is to say that whoever is in power in a certain location thinks of _themselves_ as the center of the universe. Some of the names that Europeans hung on specific populations in the Americas was just the locals' word for "people"....because until they were dominated/enslaved/relocated/slaughtered, they _were_ the people, and the Europeans were the others.

My humble, ignorant two cents.

--Steve E.

Oh!! man! I just thought of this! Turner/TCM just showed the rediscovered trailer for a Henry Fonda/Barbara Stanwyck comedy from the 1930's. The 1930's announcer said something like "He's just come back from the jungle and it's been 2 years since he's seen a white woman!" The layers of assumption there were staggering. The film itself didn't have any comments like that in was just a standard 1930's white people movie, probably with a few taken-for-granted black servants in it.

In some ways the mindset hasn't changed much at all. The trailers for Steve Martin/Queen Latifah's film comes to mind. "Her profile said girlfriend material, but instead she's a black ex-convict!"...I don't know whether the film delivered on the promised racism of the trailer.

5/17/2005 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger Debra said...

Anon white dude- Bringing Down the House did play the race card quite a bit- because she was not only black but also an ex-con (actually an escapee) she wasn't worth his time or trust.

The wholoe movie plays off of racial stereotypes, and while it's hilariously funny, and does have a happy ended (her name is cleared) she's still the enemy because of her non-whiteness for quite a while.

The funny thing? The kids never blink. So what that she's black? They are shocked to learn she's escaped from prison, but wouldn't anyone? The kids help clear the movie from being negative, but it's still showing how much of the way we think is a product of being bropught up a certain way.

Whites are people, everyone is else is black, Mexican, ect. It's really sad to see that and that it's so deeply worked into our society. When I was a kid, I had a friend who was biracial (black and white). His father was so ashamed to be black because of all the non-white stigmas he fille dout all surveys and whatnot and referred to himself as white- he hated blacks because of the stigmas placed on him.

5/18/2005 06:00:00 AM  
Blogger RHD said...

I put the book mentioned in that link on my library list, but the NYPL website summary of it makes me think it's sort of a white version of one of my all-time favorite books, the one I press on white folks who are just waking up to the discussion of race and color in this country, _White Boy Shuffle_.

Janine nailed it: they are People, we are Not White People. So no, I don't believe white folks think about race as much as we do, at least not consciously. Or maybe it's that they do, and don't realize that the underlying issues to various things on their minds are often race/color and let's not forget that other biggie, *class*.

5/19/2005 10:12:00 AM  

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