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April 15, 2008


Yes, i did laugh! it is very funny. I have dealt with the same issues all my life being half arabic and half scandinavian. 'White people' here in the States seem surprised to know i am part Arab. They obviously have something like a Saudi motif going in their minds. : ) and they obviously don't realize that the Levantines often look far more fair than I do. Oh well, it is often an amusing past time to play with identity and with people's perceptions... about who people from the Middle East are...

I laughed at this a lot -- good job! -- and I related to a lot of the stuff on the white people list. But of course I'm not white, I'm ... Jewish.

Which is usually white to black people and Asians, except when it's not white. And usually not white to Arabs, and SOMETIMES white to "real" whites, but only when convenient. And it's NOT white when I'm in New York (because there are so many other Jews there), but it IS white when I'm in California where lots of people don't know the difference and assume I'm... Italian. Which is sometimes white, and sometimes not white. But not REAL white....

Arghhh -- this is why the whole thing drives me nuts. My friend Kamau (who is decidedly NOT white -- he's black) has a whole routine about it. Here's the youtube video. It was featured during black history month and got tens of thousands of views. I think it's hysterical. Check it out. http://youtube.com/watch?v=BeaXzQYs2-M

Hey Ericka - funny about the "are Jews white" question - when I lived in Brooklyn, Black people thought Jews were white, and I got nasty looks on the #2 train when I got on at the first "white people's" stop. Because they assumed I was Jewish.

Then I came out here to California and my friends of color told me that I am actually a woman of color because I'm an Arab. Whereas on the East Coast all my (white) friends kept telling me (and still tell me) that I'm really "AMERICAN" and not really an Arab (code word - you're actually white, quit pretending).

AND my Jewish friend who grew up in L.A. casually referred in conversation to white people there, as opposed to Jews - she assumed Jews in L.A. were not white. ??? First I'd heard of it.

All very confusing.

I have decided that I really can't go around getting scholarships or going to writers workshops devoted to people of color because I don't feel like I'm of color enough. And hey, look at all the white people stuff I like...

Italians and Irish were not white people in the 19th century. Now in the 21st century I know a lot of 1st generation Arab-Americans who try to pass as Italian or Irish.

Yes I agree with all those theorists who say that race is a construct. Look at how confused we all are. (and by the way, Barack and his wife seem to like a lot of stuff white people do - as do most other upper-income, educated Black people I know - organic food, limited TV, multi-lingual children, etc.)

This is one of my favorite blogs. I don't know if it makes me laugh or cry, and when I'm leaning towards cry, I can't pick out which reason it is exactly. If I don't think too deeply about it, its hillarious. I always knew I was really, really white. Now I know why.

I know, what can we do. I was 26 years old before I started to realize that Protestantism had shaped my world view immensely. I thought I'd been raised secular... we last went to church when I was ten, and that was a breakaway hippie church that met in the YMCA. My parents said they were agnostics. How could Protestantism affect me? And yet studying the history and the world view of the Protestant revolution, and the characteristics of Protestant movements in the USA, while also learning more about people who had grown up Catholic, not to mention Jewish or other religions, got me to realize that secular or no, I was a Protestant by osmosis.

Sense of entitlement; underlying urge to rebel against established order while eventually becoming part of it; work ethic natch; idea that one can improve oneself and ought to; that one can improve others and ought to try...etc.

After reading some of the other comments here, I thought I'd tell a story about when I was deployed.
I made friends with a group of infantrymen who were primarily latino. I enjoyed hearing stories of the countries their families were from, places like Ecuador and Nicaragua. My father grew up in Panama (he's still totally white, he was a navy brat down there in the Canal Zone), so I've always kind of had a fascination with the region. One of the guys never talked about where he was from and I never thought much about it until he one day claimed to be hispanic. "You are?" I asked in surprise.
"Yeah" he replied "What did you think I was?"
"I don't know, maybe Italian?" This guy was as fair as I was, but had dark hair and eyes. Anyway, how am I supposed to know? I don't claim to be an expert on race. He looked the same color as me so I guess I didn't stop to think about it. Why would I? Not that it matters, there are fair skinned people in latin countries. I just never thought about it. I suppose you don't if the person doesn't look obviously different than you do.
After that conversation, however, he started speaking in Spanish around me all the time. He didn't do that before, but now he felt the need to quite often. I don't speak Spanish, but I've grown up around and known enough Spanish to recognize there are different accents, and I didn't know where his was from, so one day I asked.
"Spain" he said. His father was a fisherman from Spain.
I just about died laughing. He had discussed the laments of being hispanic in America with all these other guys from Central and South America so many times since he told me he was hispanic, and here I was finding out he was of Spanish descent.
When he asked me why I was laughing, I said "Spain is a hell of a lot closer to Ireland than Ecuador is!" I am of Irish descent, the other guy participating in the conversation was from Ecuador.
This started a big debate, was this infantryman hispanic or white? Most of the guys and I agreed he was, in fact, white. He maintained he was not white, and a few of the guys sided with him.
I don't know who was right, it was probably all just opinion, but at the end of the argument I concluded that white was just a color, and he and I were both that color, despite our ethnic heritage. Our ethnic heritage, I conceded, was indeed very different and could not be lumped together. Of course, back in Europe, the Germans and the French could make that same statement, and over here we'd still consider them both to be white. I maintain that the Spanish and the Irish and the German and the French are all Europeans, and in general, Europeans are considered to be white. I know that I could be way off base.
I think about him every time I read the Stuff White People Like blog, because according to the standards on that blog, he was about as white as they come.

Not to be the forum contrarian, but... don't you guys think they are more characteristics of Upper Middle Class (or less affluent but extremely well educated) whites?

I grew up in a lily white Christian working class town, and those attributes describe no one from that community!

Judy - totally agreed. And furthermore, my buddies from graduate school are almost all of color and they like most of this stuff... so does it marginalize educated middle class people of color to make this a list of what white people like? Maybe.

The site is uncomfortable. It is satire and like all satire, one starts to think .... woah, this is not so funny. Or not so kind. Or exclusive. Or something. Also doesn't apply to conservative white people (although the whole antiques thing works... many of the listed items are just "blue state" versions of stuff red state white people like, again usually middle to upper middle class.)

well. I felt busted. And I've never been upper class in terms of income; only in terms of education level & schools attended.

To Leila:
This post does not belong to this thread, but Tony Karon's server definitely will not let me post the proof that my statement was not false (and hence neither slander nor smear as you qualified it). So here it is, quoting from two Lutheran sources.

Exhibit 1:

Note the Lutheran Pastor's assertion that "The part I bolded, I think, is actually a fair articulation of Lutheranism (though not complete, of course)."

Exhibit 2:

Now, what was the point of my statement? In line with Tony's (definitely correct) statement that "the Jewish prophets are warning the Israelites to take nothing for granted. The mantle of righteousness cannot be inherited genetically", I wanted to point out the parallelism between the tendency among some Jews that he was denouncing and the views of some Christian branches. One based on DNA, the other on faith alone.

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