March 26, 2010

"Whiteness thus became a method of stigmatizing dissenting ideas, a marker of ideological respectability..."

"... [Nell Irvin Painter, in 'The History of White People,'] should have investigated this phenomenon further. Also missing from the book is an analysis of the all-important question: Who benefits and how from the imprimatur of whiteness? Political elites and employers of low-wage labor, to choose just two groups, actively policed the boundaries of whiteness."

53 comments:

traditionalguy said...

That's mighty white of you. But we all know that it's really the red haired people that threaten the rest of the world. Just talking about white is not ethnic enough to identify who gets hated.

David said...

Hey, she's black--or at least she "looks" black. I challenge her qualifications to write about white people on this basis alone.

David said...

My wife has red hair. Red all over, as she will point out occasionally. Do not mess with her.

David said...

I would write more about redheads, but I'm a blond myself. Or was. Or something. Whatever. Man that sounds like a stupid book. A blonde book. Can blacks be blonde--naturally I mean.

Life is short. Time is long. This crap will soon be forgotten. In the meantime, someone has a nice academic niche.

Youngblood said...

Althouse,

I see what you did there! Very clever choice for a headline.

For those of you who don't get why that's a very clever choice, think about it for a moment.

The Republican party is too white. Keith "Count Douche" Olbermann looks at the tea party protestors, and he sees too many whites. Obama described his grandmother as a "typical white person" in a way that was intended as a dig at her attitudes.

Now read that again:

"Whiteness thus became a method of stigmatizing dissenting ideas, a marker of ideological respectability..."

ironrailsironweights said...

America's definition of "white" is the most restrictive to be found anywhere in the world. Only in America can a light skinned, blonde haired, blue eyed person who does not physically display any nonwhite ancestry whatsoever nonetheless be classified as a minority because he or she happens to be 1/64th (or even less) black. There's also our habit of characterizing all people of Spanish-speaking ancestry as a separate, nonwhite race no matter what their physical appearances may be.

Peter

David said...

Plus our habit of having race questions dominate the National Census.

Will all this concern with race and race identity some day seem archaic and foolish? I have a dream that someday it will.

traditionalguy said...

It is not a whiteness issue. That is a spoof that fools take for real. It is always an ethnic issue. Uganda was not white/black. It was Tutsi/Hutus. The solution is forcing White Stars be worn by the ethnic groups with red headed ancestors, whether or not their hot temper shows in public.

Because I Said So said...

@David (or others)

Speaking of the census and emphasis on race...
can any of the smart lawyer types tell me if i'm going to get in trouble for not listing the names of my family (just the ages without birthdays), or the race (under other i wrote "none of your bzness"

I haven't sent it in yet

Lem said...

I'm listening to the audio podcast interview.. could be helpful.

"Race is not a fact, is a concept."

Moose said...

Man, this has a really dubious quality - sorta like Al Sharpton analysing the jews...

WV: fumeefo - a San Francisco practice.

Big Mike said...

John Lewis has a dream. Thousands, no millions of white middle class people marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, arm in arm, singing "we shall overcome."

He wakes up drenched in sweat, but realizes that it was only just a dream.

Meanwhile, in living rooms all over America the tea party people are getting together ...

Gabriel Hanna said...

You can put race on a sound empirical base if you want to--as correlations of physical types.

Some East Asians are taller than some white people. Some of them have less straight hair than some white people. Some of them have rounder eyes and lighter skin than some white people.

But the correlation of traits is significant. This is why you can have albino African Americans.

Good luck trying to keep a physical conception of race separate from our iredeemably poisoned social conceptions.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

My sister and I, descendants of red-haired people, went to China with a group of business students from a historically black university. Also on our bus were white students from some other colleges. We all got into a discussion on race with the Chinese guides. They pointed out that they belonged to different races--one was Han, and the other was Manchurian. Most of the American students couldn't see a difference, even when the Chinese men explained their differences in eye and face shape, and build. The Americans, white and black, could only see that they were about the same shade and had Asian eyes. In China, the Manchurian, as a minority, would be allowed to have 2 children, but the Han is only allowed one.
They even had a Chinese version of the "Oreo cookie," which I can't remember. Also an expression for a white person who is in love with China-- an egg.

Mark O said...

White girl.

TangoMan said...

I'm listening to the audio podcast interview.. could be helpful.

"Race is not a fact, is a concept."


Why does anyone pay attention to "race theorists" who've probably never passed more than an "Intro. to Science" generalist class? How would they reconcile their position of faith, with this fact:

"The study is by far the largest, consisting of 3,636 people who all identified themselves as either white, African-American, East Asian or Hispanic. Of these, only five individuals had DNA that matched an ethnic group different than the box they checked at the beginning of the study. That's an error rate of 0.14 percent. . . .

For each person in the study, the researchers examined 326 DNA regions that tend to vary between people. These regions are not necessarily within genes, but are simply genetic signposts on chromosomes that come in a variety of different forms at the same location.

Without knowing how the participants had identified themselves, Risch and his team ran the results through a computer program that grouped individuals according to patterns of the 326 signposts. This analysis could have resulted in any number of different clusters, but only four clear groups turned up. And in each case the individuals within those clusters all fell within the same self-identified racial group."

Gabriel Hanna said...

@asmywhimsyleadsme:

My wife is from China. Early in our relationship she asked me if I was mixed race, because I have brown hair and brown eyes. To Chinese people all "white" people have blond hair and blue eyes.

I might call a man "bald" whom you would say is a bit thin on top, but that doesn't mean that the word "bald" is meaningless. Hinid speakers don't distinguish between "ice" and "snow", but ice and snow are real nonetheless. (In my profession we distinguish about 20 types of ice.) Words are our servants and people can use different words to refer to the same real phenomenon.

Lem said...

Man, this has a really dubious quality - sorta like Al Sharpton analysing the jews...

I think people are leery, choosing to satay quiet and peer though the peephole waiting for Crack to come and crack down ;)

LonewackoDotCom said...

It's pretty funny to see this type of stuff at Althouse, especially since teapartiers like her don't care about social issues despite how very fundamental they are.

Choosing randomly:

* Another book claims that current Detroit is the result of large-scale "ethnic cleansing" inside the U.S..

* Those being cleansed were my fellow Ethnic-Americans (that's the term the BHO campaign had for us; no one else picked up on it).

* One of the arbiters or racism revealed his own biases, channeling one of the main bugbears of the left.

* Steve Sailer is usually a good read.

* Gene Expression is a controversial site that I don't have occasion to read.

danielle said...

gosh, Ann, why'd you leave out the sentence that begins that paragraph and let the TPers think that through as they construct their posters of Obama the socialist:

"In the same period, anarchist or socialist beliefs became a sign of racial inferiority, a premise strengthened by the presence of many immigrants and Jews among early-20th-century radicals."

Lem said...

gosh, Ann, why'd you leave out the sentence that begins that paragraph and let the TPers think that through as they construct their posters of Obama the socialist:

danielle the reason why TPers don't like Socialism is because its a failed system that only leads to stagnation; the mortgaging of the next generation.. Not because at one time it had anything to do with race.

danielle do you think is fare to ask a son to carry the sins of the father?

Lem said...

This was pretty funny..

Socialist Chavez kept interrupting Zapatero until the king of Spain had enough.

danielle said...

gosh Lem, i let it go the last time, but you mean 'fair' not 'fare'.

Lem said...

Obama has a lot in common with Chavez.. a spirit of divide and conquer chief among them.

Lem said...

thanks

danielle said...

I'm not sure why all TPers are TPers. i dont think for all of them it has something to do with race. but i dont doubt that for some of them it does.

I just found it interesting how Ann parsed that paragraph, attempting to make a different point (perhaps the opposite point) from the one the actual author of the whole paragraph was trying to make. and she did it just by taking out that first sentence. could Ann really be contending that the power of whiteness has been turned on its head ? that seems too absurd of a point to try to make, even over here at Althouse. its too easy to disprove just by having a look around. some people think that when Barack Obama became president that everything became different. that is a fallacy.

Lem said...

some people think that when Barack Obama became president that everything became different.

Thats waht Obama told them. Hope and Change remember?

Listen around 30 secs on.

William said...

The ancient kings of Ireland were all red haired. Red hair among the Irish is thus an outward sign of artistocratic descent. People of discernment sense their aristocratic bearing and are subtly diferential to those with red hair...But there are others who also sense this superiority but try to subvert or mock it. I'm thinking of Dickens who seemed to indicate that Uriah Heep's bad qualities were a result of his red hair. In the nineteenth century this stereotype was all too common, but perhaps now society is outgrowing it.....There are pockets of resistance, but most intelligent people now recognize the innate superiority of red heads. I think everyone is nostalgic for a time when red heads ruled the world. Red heads for their part are generally tolerant of those with drabber colors. I think if all of us worked together we could make world domination by red heads a reality within one or two generations.

danielle said...

Lem, if that is what you took from the speech, then maybe you should listen to it again. Or maybe you should find a transcript and read it.

Lem said...

..by people who waited three hours and four hours, [presumably to vote for him] many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different..

Obama's Election Night Speech

..and then Obama didn't say anything to disabuse them of that fallacy as you call it..

further on Obama said..

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

Christy said...

William, you may be on to something. Wasn't Menelaus, brother to godlike Agamenmon and husband to the lovely haired Helen, a ginger?

rhhardin said...

There's Oreos, black on the outside and white on the inside.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

Gabriel, That's interesting. The black students had been warned that they would be quite a novelty for the Chinese, who are used to seeing white Americans and Europeans, but not many of African descent. I was standing in a line with some of the students, when some Chinese moms rushed up, all excited, to get pictures of their kids with the beautiful, exotic, black people. Another guy, an English teacher, labeled several in the group: You look like Seal, you look like Whitney Houston, and so on. The Aggies loved it. (NCA&T)

Toy

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

William, as the granddaughter, niece, mother, cousin, aunt, and sister, and daughter-in-law of redheads, I'm quite familiar with the specialness of that ilk. (As a faded strawberry blond myself, I don't quite measure up to that exquisite level of feistiness.) Just remember, under that mantle of blondness, our hostess here is truly a redhead. That may explain the speed and skill with which she disembowels fools who take her on!

Toy

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

Danielle, I don't get it. Why do you think the Teapartiers, and all the others who oppose the Democrats' health care takeover, are thinking of race at all? The opposition is about the future of the country, and how the health bill was imposed, the excessive control by the government, and the consequences it will have for the country. Why do you think anything about it is motivated by race? Don't you think that, for example, African-Americans, who have higher rates of diabetes and kidney disease, have a stake in whether they will have access to high quality health care in the future, without the bureaucratic tangles, delays, and capriciousness that are common in the UK and Canada? Not to mention the decline in the number of doctors who will be available to take care of us all. It's not a racial issue. Bringing up race is just a distractor.

Toy

Paco Wové said...

Lem: as a battle-scarred Usenet veteran, I must remind you -- never ask a challenging question with a typo or spelling error. The target of your question will invariably ignore the question, and go all spelling-nazi on your ass.

kentuckyliz said...

All white people are wealthy.

Basic stupid error at the bottom of such reasoning.

Most of the poor in America are white.

TRO said...

I am white and I have all the power - bwaaaaaaa. Even the president is white so you are doomed. Oops . . . never mind.

RebeccaH said...

And Holder said we were cowards because we don't talk about race.

virgil xenophon said...

The study Tango Man refers to (which bears out what I have always thought was intuitively obvious) contains the caveat that recent multi-racial population groups--which were not part of the study--might prove to be problematic for the conclusions otherwise drawn from the study.

I would think Brazil and the US proves this out. In America we have used race as a "social construct" vis a vis black-white relationships insofar as anyone who is not "white" (along the lines of being readily identifiable in a stero-typical way a la the Tango Man referred reports' self-identified groupings) is considered "black" (Think Obama, Halle Berry, Mariah Carey, Louisiana Creoles as a group, etc.) while in Brazil it is just the opposite. There, anyone not stereo-typically "black" is considered "white." Thus in Brazil almost ALL mixed-race people are considered "white" for social purposes no matter how negroid there features might be. All Louisiana Creoles would be considered "white" in Brazil--while most of America considers them a variant of "blackness."

comatus said...

Oh right Paco, because knowing what word you're using is so...white, and all.

Liz, speaking as a proud Cro-Magnon with no presumption of becoming anything more moderne that that, let me just say that the Neanderthals never did die out, if you get what I mean, and not that that's a bad thing. So, I got your, like, Viking, right here. Viking is a line of work, not a race, and if you're looking for genetic differences you'd better go back farther than 800 AD. A lot farther.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

"but most intelligent people now recognize the innate superiority of red heads..."

Damn, am I sorry for coming in late to this thread!

danielle said...

As my whimsy leads me.. -- i think that for a large number of TPers, this is the case probably. But the signage and some of the rhetoric make we wonder about underlying motives of some of them.

J said...

"While Jews and Italians were nonwhite in the East, they had long been white in San Francisco"

I thought this was an interesting point. Having grown up in SF, I've always been puzzled by the way people from other parts of the country, particularly the northeast, seem to regard Jews as some sort of mysterious group of outsiders. Can anyone from the northeast comment on it's validity?

Fred said...

"Having grown up in SF, I've always been puzzled by the way people from other parts of the country, particularly the northeast, seem to regard Jews as some sort of mysterious group of outsiders. Can anyone from the northeast comment on it's validity?"

I was a northeasterner (LI, Western MA, CT) for practically all my life before moving west last year (I'm pushing 60). In most of the places I've lived (in the northeast), not only were Jews *not* considered as a "mysterious group of outsiders," but indeed many aspects of Jewish culture were adapted by the community at large and considered to be part of our distinctive regional identity. (Think Seinfeld) And btw, I'm a gentile (albeit with a last name shared by many Jews as well).

traditionalguy said...

Tradition has it that King David, who it seems had a gentile great grandmother and a gentile grandmother, was kept out of sight when his family was visited by the High Priest because he was red haired. He went on to gain a good reputation as King of the Jews once he had fought his way for years thru enemies that did not like redhaired warriors one bit. The Lord Jesus is now often referred to as "The Son of David" who shall reign on the throne of David forever. Although the Lord's hair color is unknown, He did love to quote Psalm 110, written by his ancestor David, as the direct prophecy of His own warrior role that he is eager to take up at his second coming. Sounds like a redhead to me.

Charlie Martin said...

My wife has red hair. Red all over, as she will point out occasionally.

Like an Abyssinian cat? That sounds cool!

Must cost a fortune in shampoo though.

Charlie Martin said...

Only in America can a light skinned, blonde haired, blue eyed person who does not physically display any nonwhite ancestry whatsoever nonetheless be classified as a minority because he or she happens to be 1/64th (or even less) black.

Yes. I was rather pleased to find out recently that there's a very high probability that I'm black.

Who'd'a thunk?

themightypuck said...

@Lem, there are a number of deontological libertarians who are opposed to socialism as a matter of principle and would continue to be opposed regardless of the consequences of socialist policies.

SukieTawdry said...

I'd say I'm more beige than white, but since my ancestors have been in North Carolina since the 1600's, there's a good chance I'm African-American.

William said...

Why is it that the census considers (for just one example) Cambodians and Vietnamese and Laotians different "races," despite having lived in the same geographic area for millennia, just because someone drew a line on a map a while ago...but everyone from Finland to Italy and Ireland to the Caucasus are considered a unified blob called "white"?
And to add to my confusion, why is Spain singled out in all of Europe to be different in getting a "race"?
Racial politics are such obvious political manipulation it's insulting.

Blue@9 said...

Why is it that the census considers (for just one example) Cambodians and Vietnamese and Laotians different "races," despite having lived in the same geographic area for millennia, just because someone drew a line on a map a while ago

Actually, these people believe themselves to be culturally, ethnically, and racially distinct. As do the Thais. But yeah, I do agree that it's lame these distinctions are made but not ones between Italians and Finns.


In terms of race being a construct, I don't think it's difficult to deny that. The ancient world did not see race the same way we do. The way that we think of black, white, yellow, etc., would have been strange to the Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians.

What I do think is interesting is that the gravitation toward "whiteness" is not completely arbitrary in some cultures. Many Asian cultures have a strong preference for lighter skin and features, because darker colors imply exposure to sun and physical labor. In other words, lighter features suggest a higher class.

J said...

"many aspects of Jewish culture were adapted by the community at large and considered to be part of our distinctive regional identity"

I'm not sure that's at odds with what I observed.

"Think Seinfeld"

Interesting that Brandon Tartikoff, a Jewish guy from the northeast himself, initially passed on Seinfeld because it was "too Jewish".