R.I.P. Whitey

The Atlantic has the absolute must read piece of the day (seriously) about the coming minority majority in America. In the rhetorically titled, “The End of White America?” Hua Hsu of Vassar College examines a basket of issues surrounding the idea that it is no longer even mildly desireable to be “white” in America. According to Hsu, white youth are trying desperately to mimic the cultures they see within minority groups as a means to escape the blandness of their “non-culture”:

Whether you describe it as the dawning of a post-racial age or just the end of white America, we’re approaching a profound demographic tipping point. According to an August 2008 report by the U.S. Census Bureau, those groups currently categorized as racial minorities–blacks and Hispanics, East Asians and South Asians–will account for a majority of the U.S. population by the year 2042. Among Americans under the age of 18, this shift is projected to take place in 2023, which means that every child born in the United States from here on out will belong to the first post-white generation.

Obviously, steadily ascending rates of interracial marriage complicate this picture, pointing toward what Michael Lind has described as the “beiging” of America. And it’s possible that “beige Americans” will self-identify as “white” in sufficient numbers to push the tipping point further into the future than the Census Bureau projects. But even if they do, whiteness will be a label adopted out of convenience and even indifference, rather than aspiration and necessity. For an earlier generation of minorities and immigrants, to be recognized as a “white American,” whether you were an Italian or a Pole or a Hungarian, was to enter the mainstream of American life; to be recognized as something else, as the Thind case suggests, was to be permanently excluded. As Bill Imada, head of the IW Group, a prominent Asian American communications and marketing company, puts it: “I think in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, [for] anyone who immigrated, the aspiration was to blend in and be as American as possible so that white America wouldn’t be intimidated by them. They wanted to imitate white America as much as possible: learn English, go to church, go to the same schools.”

Today, the picture is far more complex. To take the most obvious example, whiteness is no longer a precondition for entry into the highest levels of public office. The son of Indian immigrants doesn’t have to become “white” in order to be elected governor of Louisiana. A half-Kenyan, half-Kansan politician can self-identify as black and be elected president of the United States. [Link]

<

p>The case of The United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind mentioned in the article (someone we’ve blogged of before) refers to the 1923 case in which an Indian American veteran argued that he should be considered white (a precondition to becoming a naturalized citizen) because Indians were descended from Aryans:

Associate Justice George Sutherland found that, while Thind, an Asian Indian, may have had “purity of Aryan blood” due to being “born in Village Taragarh Talawa,near Jandiala Guru, Amritsar, Punjab” and having “high caste” status he was not Caucasian in the “common understanding”, so he could not be included in the “statutory category as white persons”.[1] George Sutherland wrote in his summary: [Link]

Hsu inevitably cites hip hop as one of the most important instruments used for overturning the desirability of whiteness:

Just as Tiger Woods forever changed the country-club culture of golf, and Will Smith confounded stereotypes about the ideal Hollywood leading man, hip-hop’s rise is helping redefine the American mainstream, which no longer aspires toward a single iconic image of style or class. Successful network-television shows like Lost, Heroes, and Grey’s Anatomy feature wildly diverse casts, and an entire genre of half-hour comedy, from The Colbert Report to The Office, seems dedicated to having fun with the persona of the clueless white male. The youth market is following the same pattern: consider the Cheetah Girls, a multicultural, multiplatinum, multiplatform trio of teenyboppers who recently starred in their third movie, or Dora the Explorer, the precocious bilingual 7-year-old Latina adventurer who is arguably the most successful animated character on children’s television today. In a recent address to the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, Brown Johnson, the Nickelodeon executive who has overseen Dora’s rise, explained the importance of creating a character who does not conform to “the white, middle-class mold.” When Johnson pointed out that Dora’s wares were outselling Barbie’s in France, the crowd hooted in delight.

Pop culture today rallies around an ethic of multicultural inclusion that seems to value every identity–except whiteness. “It’s become harder for the blond-haired, blue-eyed commercial actor,” remarks Rochelle Newman-Carrasco, of the Hispanic marketing firm Enlace. “You read casting notices, and they like to cast people with brown hair because they could be Hispanic. The language of casting notices is pretty shocking because it’s so specific: ‘Brown hair, brown eyes, could look Hispanic.’ Or, as one notice put it: ‘Ethnically ambiguous.’”

“I think white people feel like they’re under siege right now–like it’s not okay to be white right now, especially if you’re a white male,” laughs Bill Imada, of the IW Group…

<

p>If they’re right–if white America is indeed “losing control,” and if the future will belong to people who can successfully navigate a post-racial, multicultural landscape–then it’s no surprise that many white Americans are eager to divest themselves of their whiteness entirely. [Link]

<

p>I would point to success of Slumdog Millionaire at the Golden Globes last night as a perfect example of a film which appeals to the mainstream (i.e., white America) especially because it is so “non-white” (unless you count the director and producer). A British newspaper even ran the headline, “Slumdog Millionaire: the first film of the Obama era,” this morning. Obama-era is thinly veiled code for “era of the minority.” Let’s be honest, based purely on critical elements Slumdog did not deserve best picture. Although most of the dialog was convincing, that between the two main characters was atrocious drivel. Dev Patel was also woefully miscast as the lead. That being said, it was a very entertaining and moving film and if it wins the Oscar for best picture it will join Forrest Gump and Titanic as overrated movies that were nonetheless worthy as crowd pleasers (although if you liked Titanic you should be shot). The main appeal of Slumdog is the slum part, set to A.R. Rahman and M.I.A’s exotic music. To like it is to be hip. If you saw it earlier than most at one of the limited screenings in L.A. or NYC then you get extra hipness points. This film follows in the wake of another popular multiethnic film, City of God. A few years ago if you found yourself at a multiethnic party of elitist educated people then someone was sure to utter, “you simply must see City of God.” Shit, I probably even said it.

Matt Wray, a sociologist at Temple University who is a fan of Lander’s [the guy behind stuffwhitepeoplelike.com] 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.

Of course, the obvious material advantages that come with being born white–lower infant-mortality rates and easier-to-acquire bank loans, for example–tend to undercut any sympathy that this sense of marginalization might generate. [Link]

<

p>The funny thing is that when I read the site “Stuff White People Like,” I invariably find that I like most of that stuff too. Does that make me a minority who is “too white” and will thus begin to seek a minority fix whenever I’m jonesing? Does use of the term “jonesing” just then count as such a fix? This is the one thing that I feel Hsu doesn’t adequately address when he is describing the “wigger” phenomenon. How do you explain Asian youth who mimic hip hop culture when they already have their own culture that is separate from white non-culture? My head is spinning.

In 1994, a young graffiti artist and activist named William “Upski” Wimsatt, the son of a university professor, published Bomb the Suburbs, the spiritual heir to Norman Mailer’s celebratory 1957 essay, “The White Negro.” Wimsatt was deeply committed to hip-hop’s transformative powers, going so far as to embrace the status of the lowly “wigger,” a pejorative term popularized in the early 1990s to describe white kids who steep themselves in black culture. Wimsatt viewed the wigger’s immersion in two cultures as an engine for change. “If channeled in the right way,” he wrote, “the wigger can go a long way toward repairing the sickness of race in America.” [Link]

As a point of contrast to the entire discussion above I point you to a series of stories on NPR’s Morning Edition this week, the first of which I awoke to this morning. The three part series chronicles the struggle of minorities in Europe to be recognized and accepted in their country (Germany in the first story) despite, in some instances, their family having lived there for several generations:

In Europe, Barack Obama’s election as president of the United States was met with euphoria. But now, the continent is peering into the mirror, realizing there is little chance a member of one of its own minorities could reach such prominence any time soon.

Take Germany, for instance, where notions of national identity are still strictly linked to ethnicity. Nonwhite Germans are still fighting to overcome exclusion from mainstream society in many ways.

<

p>”When you take white as the norm, and everything else is deviant from that, and your advertising is always targeted at white people, or when you write school books and they’re targeted at white children, this is, for me, a racist experience,” she says.[Link]

<

p>

Simply amazing isn’t it? On one side of the globe we are talking about the overthrow of “Whitey” only a couple of generations after minorities gained a solid foothold here. In Europe, even after several generations, the divide between white and “other” seems stretched to a chasm. Is there any wonder why it is so hard to find homegrown terrorists in America? Excuse me now while I go listen to some Santogold and read The Root before going to bed.

174 thoughts on “R.I.P. Whitey

  1. $

    It’s not just money; There are wealthier countries in Europe arent’ there? I love the US and I see similarities with India. Somehow this country, while killing and destroying another group of people ( yeah history is filled with irony), developed interpretation of ideas from the Protestant roots that gave us something like the US constitution. I say this also about India…I see so much in our history, within buddhism or hinduism, the period when the Kama Sutra was written where ideas had developed that respected differences including gender differences. I’ve spoken how I come from a lower caste in India….Some 100 years ago a Hindu from my caste started a movement based within Hinduism, that called for “one man, one God, one caste” – people from my caste in India are now dominant socioeconomically in many parts of India…I grew up very privileged both in India and the US. There’s different interpretations of Hinduism and not just the stereotyped Prema/Valmiki/etc. caste hierarchy one – though that exists too.

    I’ve spent much time in Ireland, a very wealthy country, and although I found the people that I met lovely, I have to say I wouldn’t be surprised if a large group of Indians started migrating to Ireland wouldn’t face racism that would test their civil rights and human rights —- these things have already or continue to be dealt with in the US. I say this b/c of sometimes hearing disparaging remarks about eastern europeans by my friends and acquaintances there. The US’s very history of immigrants has put it in a different path than other countries and it isn’t just wealth. I still remember catching my boyfriend making a very disparaging remark about a Polish worker (he apoligized to me later when I pointed this out), who obviously had charged way too much for something we were buying. Eastern Europeans are the new immigrants in Ireland and Ireland is just getting used to seeing not only different cultures, but different colors (lots of dark-skinned people at Dublin airport just in 6 years we have been together) that will challenge their ideas of civil rights…like it has done in the US for centuries and India for that matter.

  2. My mother moved here to get the respect as a woman she could not get in India at the time and that I cannot get in India even today. Thankyou White Women for making this country a haven for women from all over the globe. Thankyou for that beautiful invention called THE FEMINIST MOVEMENT.

    Oh god. Can’t take this anymore. Pardesi Gori’s mother is from India?

  3. 100 · Rahul said

    No wonder PG has her size deficiency fixation about Indians, and you protest so often about it on Sepia!

    well, she is known for being short-sighted.

  4. I have heard of this tale of a “Pardesi Gori”, but can someone explain it to me?

  5. The main appeal of Slumdog is the slum part, set to A.R. Rahman and M.I.A’s exotic music. To like it is to be hip. If you saw it earlier than most at one of the limited screenings in L.A. or NYC then you get extra hipness points.

    Extra hipness points!! I just made myself sad…haha

  6. “I have heard of this tale of a “Pardesi Gori”, but can someone explain it to me?”

    She is a troll who puts Gary Ruppert to shame…and that’s pretty much impossible to do.

  7. Yes, the land belonged to Natives, the labor was largely due to slaves. We acknowledge all that. But do we acknowledge the white immigrants who offered their time and energy too? Certainly without them and their innovation America would not be what it is today and we probably wouldn’t be here if we are really honest with ourselves.

    I know it’s Pardesi Gori and all, but…there’s some truth to the above.

  8. Shorter Femidesi: “If fishes were wishes, ‘sushi’ would be a euphemism for malnutrition”

    or

    “Counterfactuals prove everything and make up for introducing strawmen about race into an argument over yuppie identities.”

  9. port, enough w/ the sarson ka saag for lohri in Delhi–when are you coming back to the States for grad-school? ;-)

  10. Has anyone even tried to estimate how innacurate your projections would become if you’re looking out 30 years ?

    This is the mother of all extrapolations. What if the American economy goes through two decades of negative growth and immigration becomes non-existent (protectionism and nationalism).

    Oh, and this destroyed any credibility there was in the argument completely. “The son of Indian immigrants doesn’t have to become “white” in order to be elected governor of Louisiana”.

  11. Whites will never be a minority in the USA, by definition. Most “Hispanics” are on the road to being “white,” just like “Italians” (and Irish) before them. Maybe some of these “Scythians” can get in on it. ;-) (“Man, I was so light-skinned in college, nobody thought I was Indian, they all called me Caspar!”) (I kid–it’s sick sentiment.) :-p

  12. Happy Pongal Happy Sankranti to all you cultured Indian and South Asian People who might be celebrating these! And to all the tams, Pongalo pongal, nalla samaichchu saappidu

  13. 117 · Ndian Happy Pongal

    Ehh–I am just an ABD, but–you have your calendar wrong! Who is celebrating Pongal now?! Losers, only!!

  14. Count me in with the group that says using “whitey” is offensive. I think its different from the phrase “the man.” What if on some fox news blog they made comments about blackies? While i don’t think using that term makes you racist, i don’t think its appropriate. Just because your intentions are not to be taken seriously, but as you said, an over the top caricature, it doesn’t mean others will see it the way you do, hence the comments.

    Or, we could say we’re living in a much to PC world and nobody should get offended by mere words. I’m in that camp truth be told, but thats not how it works in America. If we’re going to take offense to being called paki, camel-jockey, etc., we can’t turn around and call white people whitey, cracker, etc. Its a two-way street.

  15. 67 · ShallowThinker said

    It does appear that white people are going to disappear and become swallowed whole by the rest of the world.

    well, maybe they should refrain from the swallowing business and use their energies to actually procreate.

  16. Femidesi is an odd one. I’m thinking a majority of the civil rights movement credit would go to black people and more specifically Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    But even beyond that, thanking an entire race? Thats just silly. If you’re thanking “white people” why not thank them for all the racism as well? Why not thank them for the difference in pay between men and woman and the many other forms of sexism? How can you thank “white people” for fighting against injustices that were perpetuated by white people so effortlessly? Her comments just have me so perplexed that i fear if i write all my thoughts down it’ll be some nonsensical rambling with a point that’ll get lost rather quickly.

  17. Thankyou for that beautiful invention called THE FEMINIST MOVEMENT.

    are you foolish enough to believe that no feminists existed before first wave feminism (predominantly white)? i give my thanks to friedan, steinem et al., but they started a brave movement for themselves and their kind, to solve their own problems, just as various women in history have before them. feminism (as distinguished from the legal concept of women’s rights) exists since women have existed.

    forgot sojourner truth? (and countless other feminists before her, worldwide)

    Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the Negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about? That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne five children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman? Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or Negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
  18. I don’t know who “desifem” is, but she is wrong to think feminism, as a worldwide zeitgeist, depended entirely on whites, but women made far more advancement in Europe and America than elsewhere, and still do. Does anybody seriously dispute that? I had a Hungarian professor who had spent time in Pakistan during the 1950s and saw the way females were treated there–they looked at him with appalled pity when he said his baby was a girl. This Hungarian professor railed against American women, who had it all and in his opinion, ruled and tended to be obnoxious. He thought European women were half way between Asians and Americans in status. I was angry at the time, but now I sort of see his pov.

    But this fact of gender status is just due to to vastly different history, customs and backgrounds. Europeans evolved from a people among whom there just weren’t the same gender roles that were extant in other parts of the world, for countless reasons. Even the Romans commented on the independence of women in Germanic tribes. Athenians were amazed at the freedom of Spartan women. It is possible that women in India at some point in history were of equal status to men–there is some evidence to support that, but that was a long time ago. Even compared to the rest of Europe, English women of the 16th c. were known for their liberty–England was a hell for horses and a paradise for women, the saying went. OTOH, there were witch hunts, mainly in Germanic (!)central Europe, and in milder forms among English and 17th c. New Englanders. This certainly amounted to a persecution of women, though men accounted for a large minority of the accused. It was a sort of mania that lasted for about 100 years, and I don’t know of anything quite like it in Muslim countries. When the northern Europeans colonized America, they depended on women as much as men. Literacy among both genders was nearly equal even in the 1700s. Of course “feminism” appeared to advance in America faster. How could it not? This was a new country populated by people who were already inclined, though not required, to view genders as more or less equal socially, if not intellectually. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr both considered that women should have equal education, circa 1780. Difference in pay? That’s being rectified, and it’s better than cutting a girl’s throat because she was seen to be talking with the wrong guy.

    All races on every continent have been guilty of racism or ethnicism. The biggest difference is that the whites spread out so far, advanced so fast, became such powerful global bullies and eventually admitted to wrongdoing in the area of discrimination. The English had laws against infanticide in India which I always thought very strange. Why did they care? There was defacto infanticide in Europe, due to neglect. It was the millennial missionary zeal to improve, to know what’s best for others, I think. Every race has had slaves, sometimes of distinctly different ethnicities. As for the slavery/racism debate, Americans did at least have a philosophical debate and a real war to end it. The war had other, more compelling reasons, but if the north wasn’t fighting to end slaver, then you can’t say the southerners were fighting only to keep it. Most southerners wanted nothing to do with slavery; they were fighting for states’ rights. I don’t know of any other place where the dominant ethnic group fought a war to end the slavery and raise the status of another race. That is pretty unique.

    I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Central Americans to become the next Italians. They have a different history and way, way, more people here. They will remain Hispanics because they will continue to intermarry and associate mostly with one another. There is nothing new about Hispanics in the United States. They have been a significant demographic for many decades and still show no sign of becoming Irish or Italian, except maybe in Texas.

  19. “I’ve spent much time in Ireland, a very wealthy country”

    A lot of people with even a knowledge of very recent Irish history would LOL at that! An extraordinary statement. Ireland has been the backwater of western Europe for ages. One Russian traveler in the 1800s who had been all over creation said he’d never known poverty till he saw Ireland. They were by far the poorest immigrants to hit the shores of North America, with a on-ship death rate that equaled the black slaves. (not comparing them except for the purposes of the ship ride.) It stretched well, well, into the 20th century–Angela’s Ashes, anyone? People who saw the Irish before, during and for sometime after WWII, thought the bulk of them wore clothes that would have shamed the Salvation Army. It has been a profoundly poor country and never a colonizer though many did get booted out. Their yaboism and backwardness has been the butt of countless British jokes. What changed things was the decline of religion and the rise of the internet and computer technology. However poor, they’ve been mostly literate and English speaking, plus near to England.So now they get a little “wealth” and they are expected to surrender completely to whoever else wants some. I don’t see why a place like Ireland should be any more expected to take in all immigrants the rest of the world thinks it should have. If it is, then let’s say all “wealthy” countries must do the same. Let’s start with Japan.

  20. Lol@femidesi

    “What has been built up here over the past couple hundreds of years by white men and women, (a special shout out to first wave feminism from me!) is the reason why people want to flock to these shores in droves. “

    The irony of that is that America was in large built on stolen land by the labor of a stolen people, and has retained and increased its wealth and dominance in the world through imperialism.

    Ahem, nobody is perfect. You sound like you’re foaming at the mouth trying to defend “whites” here when nobody even went at them that hard..lol. To say that Hsu is assuming that white people have no culture(s) is absurb, he’s only picking up on and describing a particular kind of “depression” and “confusion” that whites are experiencing over their own identity. And I believe this has a lot less to do with “race” then it has to do a growing seed of disenchantment and alienation. The bad fruit of the modern affluent era in which we live, where you have enough time to think about these things.

  21. in other words, self-obsession and all that comes with it becomes the tradeoff for “paradise”. thank you YT :P

  22. A lot of people with even a knowledge of very recent Irish history would LOL at that! An extraordinary statement. Ireland has been the backwater of western Europe for ages. One Russian traveler in the 1800s who had been all over creation said he’d never known poverty till he saw Ireland. They were by far the poorest immigrants to hit the shores of North America, with a on-ship death rate that equaled the black slaves. (not comparing them except for the purposes of the ship ride.) It stretched well, well, into the 20th century–Angela’s Ashes, anyone? People who saw the Irish before, during and for sometime after WWII, thought the bulk of them wore clothes that would have shamed the Salvation Army. It has been a profoundly poor country and never a colonizer though many did get booted out. Their yaboism and backwardness has been the butt of countless British jokes. What changed things was the decline of religion and the rise of the internet and computer technology. However poor, they’ve been mostly literate and English speaking, plus near to England.So now they get a little “wealth” and they are expected to surrender completely to whoever else wants some. I don’t see why a place like Ireland should be any more expected to take in all immigrants the rest of the world thinks it should have. If it is, then let’s say all “wealthy” countries must do the same. Let’s start with Japan.

    Not sure what you are talking about. Of course Ireland WAS a poor country. Of course there were jokes and denigrating statements about the poverty, Catholism, etc. What’s your point? My boyfriend’s family is Protestant, from Belfast, they are descendents of people brought over to colonize the “dirty, lazy, overbreeding” Catholics – though now many of them enjoy living in the Republic of Ireland and they lived on the frontline often in the Catholic/Protestant conflict not only in the work his father did, but also where they were located and yes, we’ve talked about the prejudices on both sides. Again what’s your point?

    Manju said the reason that everyone wants to come to the US is b/c of the wealth of the country. My point is that there is more to the US than it’s wealth that attracts immigrants here. Ireland is one of the richest countries in the world now but I don’t think it’s the first place many immigrants want to go to – I don’t think that it is seen as welcoming or a country with as many possibilities for a new immigrant as the U.S. – and one factor is the very history of the country and most European countries that don’t have a history of diverse immigrants and diverse populations (african americans and native americans) that challenge and mold the development of strong civil rights laws.

    If it is, then let’s say all “wealthy” countries must do the same. Let’s start with Japan. lol, that’s not what I was saying and where you get this from what I wrote isn’t apparent to me.

    Japan is another good example of a country that is wealthy, but isn’t particularly known for civil rights of diverse immigrants – though I’m sure it’s a lot better than many countries – there is more to the US than just it’s wealth that made my parents choose to come here rather than say, Ireland or Japan (though we did emigrate to UK first but Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are very different in demographics than UK)

  23. PS 2 101 and 128:

    . My point is that there is more to the US than it’s wealth that attracts immigrants

    I agree with PS 120%. I chose to live in the US both because it is welcoming and because as a woman I would be able to live free of harassment. And also so that I could pursue my rather exotic career goals at a time when most Indian women didn’t have careers. Money, there was some for a little while but no where near what I could have made if that had been my goal. Things have changed. In doing a reevaluation, I see that the only place I can move to is back to India. In fact, I read Sepia to acquaint myself with modern India.

  24. One of the reason why America is the first place for immigrants is because many folks who immigrate (mainly for economic or better opportunity reasons) from other parts of the world are from the commonwealth countries (eastern Europeans migrating is a recent trend). The big factor that comes into play is the commonality of language. There is a language barrier to migration to other first world countries in Europe including Japan. By that argument I predict that Britain, Australia, Canada and Ireland can be big competitors to America. Britain is constrained by small geographic size and not so good economic prospects whereas the others are increasingly attracting a lot of folks.

  25. My boyfriend’s family is Protestant, from Belfast, they are descendents of people brought over to colonize the “dirty, lazy, overbreeding” Catholics – though now many of them enjoy living in the Republic of Ireland and they lived on the frontline often in the Catholic/Protestant conflict not only in the work his father did, but also where they were located and yes, we’ve talked about the prejudices on both sides. Again what’s your point?

    Don’t get mad PS, this is just a discussion, but…your boyfriend’s community is not ‘real Irish’. Not in the way that Irish Catholics are. As you alluded to, they are descendants of people who migrated there over time from Britain and were encouraged by the British as a means of Anglicising Ireland. They have no attachment to Irish or Gaelic culture/traditions or language (as indeed that is not part of their heritage). This is an important point, because not many people outside Ireland realise this. It’s analagous to the way Tibet is being settled by Han Chinese now…in five centuries they will all say they’re Tibetan, but the fact is the Han can not be real Tibetans in the way that ethnic Tibetans, the upholders of the native culture, language, and traditions of Tibet,are.

  26. This is an important essay on Indian Identity


    … Movements that eradicate differences span the ideological spectrum. Some religions claim mandates from God to convert the religiously different. Although the European Enlightenment project dispensed with God, it enabled erasing ethnic diversity through genocide of Native Americans and slavery of African-Americans. Asians were luckier, because they could become “less different” via colonisation.

    Today, many Indians erase their distinctiveness by glamorising white identity as the gold standard. Skin lighteners are literal whiteners. Media and pop culture incorporate white aesthetics, body language and attire for social status, careers and marriage. The venerable “namaste” is becoming a marker of the older generations and the servants. Pop Hindu gurus peddle the “everything is the same” mumbojumbo, ignoring even the distinctions between the dharmic and the un-dharmic. Intellectuals adopt white categories of discourse as “universal”.

    …Although the US is a land of immigrants, pride of place goes to the majority religion. Political candidates for high office are seriously disadvantaged if they are not seen as good Christians. The church-state separation is not a mandate to denounce Christianity or privilege minority religions. America was built on white identity that involved the ethnic cleansing of others. To its credit, India has avoided this. Obama sought a better, unified nation and transcended the minorityism of previous Black leaders. Unlike the Dravidianists, Mayawati, and those Muslim and Christian leaders who undermine India’s identity, Obama is unabashedly patriotic and a devout follower of its majority religion. America celebrates its tapestry of hyphenated identities (Indian-American, Irish-American, etc.) but “American” supersedes every sub-identity. Being un-American is a death knell for American leaders. In sharp contrast, Mayawati, Indian Muslim leaders, Indian Christian leaders, Dravidianists and other “minority” vote bankers have consolidated power at the expense of India’s unified identity. Unlike the promoters of fragmented Indian identities, Obama is closer to Mahatma Gandhi and Ambedkar, champions of the downtrodden within a unified Indian civilisation.


    The essay, in its entirety, is at http://www.tehelka.com/story_main41.asp?filename=Ne170109we_the.asp

  27. Oddly enough, though my parents lived in the United States for two years(I was a baby then) my mother did not enjoy it at all. She had always wanted to stay in India but by coincidence they ended up settling in Europe. Go figure.

    My father states he used to compare Europe to the USA all the time in his earlier years of stay, and Europe came out unfavourably. Now he says he wouldn’t live in the USA if somebody paid him. Again, go figure.

  28. Don’t get mad PS, this is just a discussion, but…your boyfriend’s community is not ‘real Irish’. Not in the way that Irish Catholics are. As you alluded to, they are descendants of people who migrated there over time from Britain and were encouraged by the British as a means of Anglicising Ireland. They have no attachment to Irish or Gaelic culture/traditions or language (as indeed that is not part of their heritage). This is an important point, because not many people outside Ireland realise this. It’s analagous to the way Tibet is being settled by Han Chinese now…in five centuries they will all say they’re Tibetan, but the fact is the Han can not be real Tibetans in the way that ethnic Tibetans, the upholders of the native culture, language, and traditions of Tibet,are.

    You mean the way that Indian Americans can never be fully Americans because they are not the upholders of the native culture, language and traditions? Oh, wait…

  29. Let’s be honest, based purely on critical elements Slumdog did not deserve best picture. Although most of the dialog was convincing, that between the two main characters was atrocious drivel. Dev Patel was also woefully miscast as the lead. That being said, it was a very entertaining and moving film and if it wins the Oscar for best picture it will join Forrest Gump and Titanic as overrated movies that were nonetheless worthy as crowd pleasers (although if you liked Titanic you should be shot).

    THANK YOU. i thought i was the only one.

  30. Don’t get mad PS, this is just a discussion, but…your boyfriend’s community is not ‘real Irish’. Not in the way that Irish Catholics are. As you alluded to, they are descendants of people who migrated there over time from Britain and were encouraged by the British as a means of Anglicising Ireland. They have no attachment to Irish or Gaelic culture/traditions or language

    They feel a strong attachment to Ireland, both North and the Republic – they consider themselves Irish, they have been in Northern Ireland for centuries – as opposed to British but they are in actuality both. His father married a British women (from the UK island) and she was seen as different from the Irish Protestants. Northern Irish accents are discernable from the myriad of British accents and it’s also discernable from the Republic of Ireland’s myriad accents. Gaelic is of course not part of their heritage, and sadly b/c of the horrible oppression by the British, it is almost a lost language for the youth in the Republic of Ireland, (though the schools and the country are doing much to revive it).

    And my bf has a home in the Republic and his mom settled there as well, so they are mired in both cultures. They do see a distinct differences. Settling in a small town in the Republic, my bf is definitely seen as a “blow in” – new type and there was some suspicion about him being Protestant; But a different blow in than immigrants from Eastern Europe. Many Protestant Irish would be troubled if you didn’t call them Irish…but there are of course Protestants in Northern Ireland, who don’t want to be seen as anything but British. My bf’s father worked in diplomatic positions so they were often on the frontline of Protestant/Catholic Irish/British identity and they see themselves as very much Irish Protestants and a different type of British, but British also.

    But why would I get mad about what you are saying anyways?

  31. Amitabh – an example of the differences in identity someone who is Prot Irish, as opposed to British mainlander, might feel is this: When my bf was in university, he was in something like the ROTC, that they have here. He was called a “mick” and “paddy” all the time as part of their hazing and he felt like “shyte” as he’d say. He has a very Protestant last name – no Mc about it, but his accent is different than mainland British accents and discernable to mainland Brits who he encountered.

  32. Don’t get mad PS, this is just a discussion, but…your boyfriend’s community is not ‘real Irish’.

    Thank God you are around to simplify the world and reduce an individual to his supposed culpability for what happened hundreds and hundreds of years ago.

  33. 111 · portmanteau said

    khoof, because you seemed to celebrate it last year: happy lohri.

    And a happy lohri to you too port. Save some batasha and revdi for me. :-)

  34. but his accent is different than mainland British accents and discernable to mainland Brits who he encountered

    I’ve spent time in Belfast. The Northern Irish accent is utterly unique, different to the south, and of course to mainland Britain. Of course it’s discernible.

  35. Thank God you are around to simplify the world and reduce an individual to his supposed culpability for what happened hundreds and hundreds of years ago.

    No, plenty of Irish Catholics would echo the same sentiment.

    PS thanks for your comments. The only problem is that while yes the Protestants are attached to the land and have lived there for so long, many of them continue to be actively hostile to Irish Catholic culture and sentiments.

  36. many of them continue to be actively hostile to Irish Catholic culture and sentiments.

    Yes, his father, being in diplomacy during the height of the “Troubles” had to deal with this sentiment and they can’t stand the chauvinism of the some Prot Irish, but many aren’t like this, including him and his family. They also can’t stand the violence of the militant part of IRA either or people who are Catholic who would automatically assume all Protestants are bastards – obviously they don’t like that attitude either.

  37. Unlike the promoters of fragmented Indian identities, Obama is closer to Mahatma Gandhi and Ambedkar, champions of the downtrodden within a unified Indian civilisation.

    def. true to some extent. but let’s face it – obama’s handling of his campaiagn – and in particular the vehement protests that he is not muslim – underlies the implication that the unified identity of americans only exists insomuch as certain religious/ethnic backgrounds are limited are set aside. i.e., obama’s campaign did not refect what colin powell so succinctly put about seeing every american – hyphenated or not – as a true american.

    The main appeal of Slumdog is the slum part, set to A.R. Rahman and M.I.A’s exotic music. To like it is to be hip.

    i thought the first portion in the slum, relative to the portions that followed, was accurate – and at times captured the sheerly cruel possibilities for an indian kid living in the slum. though, i do recall split wide open doing a much better job of this (without switching to a flowery romance angle), although it has been very long, so i could be wrong.

  38. 143 · ak said

    Unlike the promoters of fragmented Indian identities, Obama is closer to Mahatma Gandhi and Ambedkar, champions of the downtrodden within a unified Indian civilisation.
    def. true to some extent. but let’s face it – obama’s handling of his campaiagn – and in particular the vehement protests that he is not muslim – underlies the implication that the unified identity of americans only exists insomuch as certain religious/ethnic backgrounds are limited are set aside. i.e., obama’s campaign did not refect what colin powell so succinctly put about seeing every american – hyphenated or not – as a true american.
    The main appeal of Slumdog is the slum part, set to A.R. Rahman and M.I.A’s exotic music. To like it is to be hip.
    i thought the first portion in the slum, relative to the portions that followed, was accurate – and at times captured the sheerly cruel possibilities for an indian kid living in the slum. though, i do recall split wide open doing a much better job of this (without switching to a flowery romance angle), although it has been very long, so i could be wrong.

    Being a true American involves having some respect for typical American culture. It’s important to me to retain my own Indian identity within America, but we should also recognize that the ideals that make America what it is are historically rooted in certain religious and cultural traditions. That’s why we take days off on Christmas regardless of what religion we are and we don’t complain about the ceremonial Deism that permeates our institutions. (Of course, we now have a bunch of Evangelical groups trying to coopt the ceremonial Deism to be right-wing Christianism, but both extremes must be avoided.) Basically, we can be distinct while still respecting the majority or “typical American” religion and culture. I don’t see why we should be insisting on homogeneity.

    But maybe that’s a very Indian mindset at work.

  39. but we should also recognize that the ideals that make America what it is are historically rooted in certain religious and cultural traditions

    i was never insisting on homogeneity. rather, the exact opposite – that despite heterogenity in race, religion, or background, there can be universality. the point that i was making was that the current concept, as practiced, of being american allows for only a certain amount of heterogeneity. to me, the most amazing thing about america is that, theoretically, anybody can be a “true” american if they beleieve in certain political ideals and principles. although i accept that, in practice, christianity plays a role in american culture, by the very words of the scriptures upon which this country’s foundations have been built -they should not. and you cannot uphold the concepts of equality, freedom of religion (which includes both the establishment and free exercise clauses) etc. whilst simultaneously saying that christianity is some sort of underlying requirement for being a true american. what troubles me is this disconnect between an america based on an ideology and an america that, in practice, requires certain religious/cultural elements to be considered truly “american.”

    admittedly, this is a very lawyerly mindset at work ;

  40. “Again what’s your point?”

    My point? Well, a few other people such as Amitabh seem to get it. Ireland is in no way a “wealthy” nation and it has been a colonized nation–certainly it was politically, economically and linguistically colonized, which is similar to the Indian experience in ways. Outside Dublin and few hubs, it’s still poor. My point was the poverty was very recent and the current “wealth” as untrustworthy as April sunshine in County Cork. I don’t know about now, but in the 80s and 90s there were more illegal Irish immigrants in New York than illegal Spanish speaking people. Personally I do think that the United States, of all countries, is one that should accommodate legal immigrants, but I don’t know why Japan should get to disciminate–that bugs me. I have always wanted to live in Japan. Maybe I was a samurai in a previous life. However, America still has the space (most people live on the coasts; there’s plenty of fly over room.) I just want immigrants to be legal. White culture disappearing? yeah, right. Hsu’s just mad because Mao’s Cultural Revolution blew so much of China’s cultural remnants to smithereens. Try finding an old temple or monument in China. It’s tragic the way China and Europe cannibalized themselves during the 20th century, yet they still come out of it all fat and sort of happy. The powers that be seem to be pushing anxiety talk about race the way they pushed it about gender 20 or 30 years ago. Males and females didn’t become interchangable; people aren’t cloning their kids, women are not leading the charge into outer space and in some parts of the world, traditional gender roles are more hide-bound than ever. The two discussions are not a million miles apart.

  41. My point? Well, a few other people such as Amitabh seem to get it. Ireland is in no way a “wealthy” nation Outside Dublin and few hubs, it’s still poor. My point was the poverty was very recent and the current “wealth” as untrustworthy as April sunshine in County Cork.

    I’m sorry, I still dont’ get ur point. Yes, Ireland was a poor nation and it’s one of the wealthiest nations in the world now…I am describing my experiences in the past 8 years. You are wrong to think Dublin is the only area where there is wealth…the country is rich.

    http://internationaltrade.suite101.com/article.cfm/world_s_richest_countries http://financialranks.com/?p=40

    It’s tragic the way China and Europe cannibalized themselves during the 20th century, yet they still come out of it all fat and sort of happy. The powers that be seem to be pushing anxiety talk about race t

    Okay….

  42. Ireland is indeed nouvelle riche you only have to see Dublin to note it. Any doubt on that score is removed when its compared Edinburgh- just a stroll thru the city (old or new) center makes it obvious.

    The funny thing is that when I read the site “Stuff White People Like,” I invariably find that I like most of that stuff too

    Abhi

    Weird isn’t it? That given the same opportunities, access etc. that individuals living in the same political/material /”country” (e.g. the same America) bombarded by the same advertisements and television programs would develop the same taste. Boggles the mind

    then it’s no surprise that many white Americans are eager to ,*divest* themselves of their whiteness entirely…whiteness is no longer a precondition.

    Not to sure about that- It seemed the trend of some white people & other factions, was to invest whiteness on approved individuals (Barack). Yes he’s biracial; his [white] family did a fine job raising him. Yet I’m confident Old Rev. Wright has fairly recent white ancestry too ,though I have yet to read anyone wanting to point out that obvious fact. I heard someone on the BBC say Christopher Hitchens attributed Obama’s success to his whiteness though I couldn’t verify it. I don’t think its only older Americans with that view-even if its not stated. Proving whiteness is not a just race

    In grad school (U.K) I have sensed a white American classmates feeling of being usurped because a professor would ask me [AfAm] generic questions about the US. Based on the facial expressions and asides the classmate would add, I had the impression she felt that the only authentic/ real ‘American’ answer could only be given by herself. We played the name game- where did you undergrad , how did you get to London etc— all that to say its not like she had whiter (joke) upbringing than me or had even seen as much of the US as I have. And I’m going there; the ski at the end of her last name means I’m the real American; based on criteria laid out in comment #131.

    Take Germany, for instance, where notions of national identity are still strictly linked to ethnicity. Nonwhite Germans are still fighting to overcome exclusion from mainstream society in many ways.

    I had an interesting conversation with a Turkish person from Germany, who said he felt more German, while outside of Germany. I have felt at times more American for being away- that’s expected . But it was more poignant for the both of us ; as were were both benefiting from all that ‘hard work the white man has done’ ;-)

    Lastly “whitey” is offensive, just becuase Pat Buchanan uses it,that doesn’t make it right.

  43. Dilettante, do you think it’s fair to say that some (many?) African Americans started to feel ‘more American’ after 9/11?

  44. Whitey is offensive. For example, take this common dialogue that took place in the past.

    White guy: Hey, look at those ni##ers swimming in our community pool. Hey!! Get out of our pool.

    Black Guy number 1: Im not leavin whitey.

    White Guy: Lips quivering. How dare you call me that.

    Black guy number 2: Im fixin on tellin mamma on how racist you were acting toward that caucasian.