"Multi-racial whiteness"

As a wise man once said:

I think it’s a very poor choice of terminology (like so many concepts on the left); US culture isn’t white culture, and the former seems to be what you are describing. It makes perfect sense that the dominant culture in the US is defined by the majority race, but that it’s not necessary to be white to share it, or to contribute to it. US culture includes elements adopted from previous groups of immigrants that used to be separate but are now considered part of the majority - ‘within the tent’ as Begbert put it - and the same could happen in future, that Asians or Hispanics could join the majority culture and group, but that isn’t the case now because the majority is currently defined racially (and in the past perhaps was defined as being a WASP?)

I’ve read the article twice and, to be honest, it seems to be a bit of a mess. There’s a lot of unjustified assumptions built into it.

For one thing, the author implies that anyone loyal to President Trump (who, for the record, I despise), is a racist. This isn’t necessarily true. Trump is a racist, and I don’t deny that a significant number of his supporters are, too. Indeed, I’d be willing to guess that a large majority of racists who voted in 2020 voted for Trump. But that’s not the same as saying everyone who voted for Trump in 2020 is a racist. It’s possible to be a Trump supporter without being a racist.

For another, the author seems to be under the impression that the natural inclination of any member of any ethnic minority is to vote along racial lines, and those who appear to vote in a manner she perceives as contrary to their group’s interests, must be laboring under some species of internalized racism. The notion that these people may simply not view politics through an exclusively racial lens seems not to have occurred to her.

The author asks "What are we to make of Tarrio - and, more broadly, of Latino voters inspired by Trump? and then tries to answer her own question by shoehorning the very people she’s talking about into this weird, oxymoronic theoretical construction of her own devising. Did she try asking any of these people why they support Trump? The article gives no indication that she did.

Honestly, at the risk of being reductive it seems to me like the author could’ve saved herself a lot of time and several hundred words if she’d just written that any latino who voted for Trump is a “Tio Tomás”, as it were, and left it at that. By my reading, her argument doesn’t seem to amount to much more than that.

Put another way - Jeremy Lin wasn’t being “black” by pursuing a career in NBA basketball; he was being Jeremy Lin.

Ben Carson wasn’t being “un-black” by pursuing a career in medicine; he was…being Ben Carson.

Around 100 years ago, white skin and a christian faith wasn’t enough to qualify as an in-group member.

You had to be the right kind of white and the right kind of christian. You had to be an anglo-saxon christian and a protestant. Couldn’t be German, Italian, Spanish, French, Polish, Russian, etc. Also couldn’t be catholic, mormon, etc. Now to be labeled an in-group you just need to be white and christian.

I think the same thing is happening sadly, as white supremacy can’t get enough adherents they allow other races in as long as those other races support white supremacy.

When you have to torture your categories as far as that article does in order to understand what’s going on around you - probably time to find new categories.

In particular, I think there’s a big blind spot in left-wing analysis of Trumpian politics, where people want to say “it’s about maintaining privilege”. And then they have to contort their argument every which way to account for the fact that Trump support contains at least some people (women, Latinx’s, Black people) who aren’t in the cis-white-hetero-male privileged category. Apparently it’s easier for some people to bend the word “white” into unrecognisability, rather than admit that they can’t do a simple single-value analysis of Trumpian support

In this entire thread, I do not see the word “assimilate”. It is an active verb, that describes how some non-white Americans became white, through their own volition. They joined the mainstream, which happpened to be founded on white culture. Instead of expecting the mainstream to embrace theirs.

There’s no such thing as “white culture”. There’s a bunch of different cultures, many of whom happen to be comprised mostly of white people (in a country where that’s most of the actual inhabitants)

No one ‘became white’. It’s like @Wesley_Clark said; some number of years ago, being white wasn’t enough to qualify for in-group membership. But as various groups assimilated, the in-group expanded to include all white Americans. And Asians aren’t going to become white, but it’s possible the in-group could change to include them. I don’t believe it has happened yet, though.

Yeah, I’m not sure I understand that part of BigT’s post. Obviously there is no such thing as a ‘white culture’ that all white people share. There are shared influences and one culture can influence another, but that’s not limited by race. So how does race play into it exactly? [quote=“Aspidistra, post:26, topic:930901”]
Apparently it’s easier for some people to bend the word “white” into unrecognisability, rather than admit that they can’t do a simple single-value analysis of Trumpian support

I agree with this.

In Australia, the term ‘Anglo-Celtic’ started coming into use at around the time Italian/Greek migration was high, as a kind of signifier that those non-U Irish Catholic types, who used to be very much “them”, were now “us”, compared to this new weird mob.

I’m expecting the next expansion of the dominant in-group to be “Eurasian” … unless by that stage we’re all so mixed that nobody can really tell any more.

Maybe so. But is it a good thing? Expansion of the in-group ought to be good, but it implies there’s still an out-group.

And what’s non-U?

English upper-class slang. “Not one of us” - Nancy Mitford. My mother uses it all the time (in irony) so I always think it’s more well-known than it is

Given that race isn’t a biologically immutable quality but rather a set of social categories, it seems perfectly reasonable to refer to changing criteria about who belongs in a particular category in terms of “becoming white”.

For instance, Benjamin Franklin, along with many of his contemporaries, famously had a much narrower definition of “whiteness” than is current nowadays:

Here’s a 1916 industrial relations report illustrating the distinction that many employers of the time took for granted between “white men” and “Italians”:

This article discusses similar evolution of racial classifications of various groups of Europeans, illustrated by the contemporary quote in the article’s title, “A Slav can live in dirt that would kill a white man”.

Nobody is claiming that the physical skin color of people of, say, Swedish or Italian or Slavic ethnicity significantly changed between then and now. But it is absolutely true that their perceived qualification to be included in the category of “white people”, according to commonly understood definitions of that category, did change.

We see a similar evolution going on now, for example, in the inclusion of Hispanic/Latinx people in the category “white”. It’s commonly held nowadays that Hispanic and Latinx aren’t racial categories, and may describe people who are either white or nonwhite. But in this 1983 article entitled “Differences among black, Hispanic, and white people in knowledge about long-term care services”, for example, it was taken as a given that “Hispanic” signified a racial category that was neither white nor black.

As @Kimstu notes, the definition of who is white has changed over time (and in the present it’s different in different places).

There is, though, in the same sense there is a black culture or a Latino culture or an LGBT culture. Sure, these cultures all contain other smaller cultures, but there’s still an overlapping culture they share.

And this is a great example of white people objecting to being analyzed as a race. It’s okay to talk about “black culture,” but we must always subdivide white culture. We also wind up with people treating the default culture at the white one: when people talk about American culture, they’re most often talking about white American culture, treating African-American culture as different.

There was another thread about someone talking about the values of whiteness–values shared by white people. The fact that such a grouping can be made–that we can guess a whole set of values based on someone’s white skin-- shows that there is an underlying culture there. That’s all a culture is, really: shared beliefs in a group of people.

And that culture is 100% what Trump tried to appeal to. He was addressing the grievances of white people who are having to exist in a multicultural world. no longer being on the top. That was his message. And it was those brown people coming up from Mexico or those brown people who were Muslim who were the threat. He made no attempt at all to appeal to black people, and even actively fought against black people daring to protest their mistreatment by cops.

No, he didn’t appeal to all white people. But nearly everything he ever pushed was in the language of white grievances, even when he would also appeal to straight, cisgender, and male grievances.

Is it the only lens through which to view his support? Of course not. But it is a valid one. There is a reason people talk of Trump’s message being white identity politics. It’s hard to think of any other race he even tried to appeal to.

That’s not “white culture”. There is a distinct black culture in the US, much more so than a “white culture”, because for most of our history black people were forced to only rely on each other and not anyone else, nor any institutions, for safety and necessities. That created a coherent black culture. There were never such forces in place to create a coherent white culture in America. There’s probably an Irish American culture, and Italian American, and Jewish American, etc. Similarly there’s an Appalachian culture, a Southern culture (or cultures), etc. But white culture? No such thing. At least nothing nearly as coherent as black culture or those others I mentioned.

There may be a sort of “white grievance” culture that’s surprisingly big, and that’s who Trump appealed to (aside from the normal red voters - conservatives on economic and social issues). But that’s not “white culture” - just a big slice.

All IMO of course.

I concur. There is no such thing as “white culture”. A New England WASP has little in common with a Nebraskan trailer trash.

Class is what it’s all about.

Huh? Yes, there is. And it’s the only reason that “whiteness” as a concept makes any sense. There are shared values among white people that form a coherent culture, and that culture can be studied, rather than treated as some sort of null culture that other aspects are placed on top of.

There is no reason that oppression is needed to create a common culture. You can talk about Republican culture, gamer culture, business culture, and so on. All that is needed are shared values that develop over time due to separation of some sort. Sure, white people created that separation ourselves, but it still happened. We assimilated several other cultures–it’s how “becoming white” makes sense, too.

Now, sure, it’s true that there are racists who think they define what white culture is. Those are the ones who tend to say that “white culture is under attack,” when no such thing is true. The KKK is not white culture, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a shared culture.

Now maybe we’re quibbling over semantics, and you have a different word for what I’m describing. But it’s the term I used throughout my explanation of whiteness, which you did not disagree with. So I don’t see how it makes sense to rip out the foundation of that explanation without replacing it with something else.

I actually would have expected this response from those who do not think whiteness exists.

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