White Culture?

Is there such a thing as white culture?  Is it worth preserving?  Is white, cracker, honkey, ofay, cornbread, casper, redneck  synonymous with racist, duplictous greed?  Or is there something here worth standing up for?  Does standing up for white culture have to mean standing against all other cultures?  What is white culture anyway?  Is it Celtic, German, American, punk rock, country western, folk, or classical?

Some people have suggested that in order for white youth to fully recognize their stolen position of power, they must identify with aspects of their own culture which are autonomous from that invested hierarchy.  Can Punk Rock save us from ourselves?  Can Beethoven anchor these ancient slave ships to more innocent moorings?  Or are white folk irredeemably corrupt and tainted by our history?

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7 Responses to “White Culture?”

  1. Every culture should have the right to voice their individual history. History is something to be very proud of and should always be preserved. Now as what to preserve should be based on the things that were able to advance the culture in a positive direction. they should put less emphasis on the negatives for instance slavery. And NO the white man is not evil. if you look at my screen name you can tell i am not white.

  2. I think that it would be hard to argue against a person’s right to voice their cultural history. What I’m curious about is whether that right should be seen more as a responsibility. White anti-racists often feel compelled to disavow themselves of white culture in an attempt to show that they can embrace diversity. They might identify with new age constructions of pseudo Native American, Hindu, Hawaiian, Buddhist cultures et cetera. Young whites, alienated by a white culture that seems nearly bankrupt from commodification and exploitation, commonly adopt Hip Hop fashion, style, and language as a way to identify with black culture.

    I find myself doing all of those things so that the way I speak and act around different people changes like a chameleon. Being conscious of the possibility that my own linguistic code-switching might come across as inauthentic and patronizing, I make a deliberate effort to “cracker it up” a bit in order to be more honest and take ownership of my own ethnic identity. People tend to respond very positively to people who are confident and unapoligetic about their own identity while showing appreciation and respect for others.

    Liberal guilt can’t be very attractive. It reinforces the idea that hierarchy is an inate component to any relationship where one person must always assume a subordinate role. How can this type of thing be taught? The Women’s Studies department at UH offers a class on Masculinity. Should Ethnic Studies offer a course on Whiteness?

  3. alamoluck007 Says:

    I think cultral history is an evil that should not be dwelled upon. It is single handidly the most dangerous thing we as humans can do. I see to often people who are just in LOVE with their cultural past and flaunt how amazing their anncestors were. I hear people saying “SUSHI ISNT REAL SUSHI HERE LIKE IT IS IN JAPAN!” or “LOOK AT THAT WHITE BOY PLAY UKULELE! WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS?” When the truth is sushi originated in CHINA, and the ukulele came from PORTUGAL (yeah thats a “white” country). The fact is it doesn’t matter where shit comes from! Why can’t a black guy have a japanese tatoo? Or a japanese guy have a polonesian tatoo? What if these things mean something to them, HERE AND NOW?! You live in the past you DIE IN THE PAST! Embrace the idea of “inventing” a new culture, a culture where we are all humans…

  4. Well that’s the big thing right? How do you decide who lays claim to any particular cultural art or practice? I don’t think that expressing your own cultural heritage necessarily means denying other people the right to take part in that culture. The most exciting things happening now in the world of classical music are coming out of China, not any European countries. I worked with someone on Maui once who threatened to fight me whenever I would speak Pidgin. On one hand, I grew up in California and am white as white can be, so he felt that I had no right to appropriate the culture with my own mesolect version of Pidgin. On the other hand, I had been living with my best friend, who was a Local Tongan Maui boy, for three years at that point and frequently hung out with locals, cliff jumping, surfing, partying and whatever so it had become very natural for me to slip into Pidgin whenever I was around local people.

    Cultural heritage is not evil. Attempting to control and commodify cultural heritage is. Culture, by definition, is something that is shared. If we all focused our energy more on expressing our culture rather than trying to possess, exploit, or control it, we would all be much better off. The point of this post was to encourage expression, not to limit it.

    I’m not suggesting that we live in the past. I only think that it’s important to know your roots. In the melting pot society we live in it might engender a greater sense of community to identify how our sense of individuality and empowerment can be strengthened by identifying the ways in which we are all interconnected through time and place. There is a responsibility here, I think, to express one’s self as honestly and as authentically as possible so that the mechanisms of culture do not become stale and static.

    I’m all for a Black dude who wants to get a Japanese tattoo, as long as it’s done out of appreciation and respect for Japanese culture and not out of a desire to mask his blackness. I will continue to speak my California-tinged Pidgin, but I will do it out of a love and respect for Local culture and not as an attempt to mask my own whiteness.

  5. Redneck stereotypes are just as destructive as any other negative stereotype.

    Bashing white people that don’t have much money is just as hateful as bashing anyone. It causes a terrible self-image which leads to depression and anger. That anger leads to crime and substance abuse and is bad for society.

    Having positive images of as many diverse groups of people as we can muster would help I think, it would make no sense to exclude caucasians.

  6. I agree that people need to relax and let go of this crazy cultural barrier hostility. I live with three swedish exchange students and always meet a bunch of swedish people or from other countries and the nationalism from everyone is insane. It seems like we can’t have a conversation without everything coming out of their mouths or our mouths, everyones, being “in sweden, we…” “swedish way is..” or “in america..” “americans..” relating to everything- get over it, this thought is so destructive because they don’t speak to a “american” in the same way as someone from germany or even differently for someone from japan or anything. People are people and different all over. There is no such thing as the American way or opinion especially because the US is a relatively young country that’s made up of every other different nationality. It’s also very spread out and varies so drastically. Other countries around the world are like these to, it feels like we just have this need to automatically categorize people and it’s wrong and limiting to both parties. As for this, it’s really dumb when people talk about white or black culture because white and black aren’t really races or cultures at all- they are colors, not even actually but white people can be from anywhere, doing anything, raised with all black or mixes of people, from jamaica, africa, and every different religion, etc. and so-called black people are from many many different countries, every culture, religion, etc. so there really is no black or white culture- that’s dumb, it’s not even a remotely logical classification.

  7. the segregation and cultures that seem to be developing and existing more and more in this modern society are between socio-economic standing, not color,age, location, or orientation that much. The class gaps are what we need to watch out for as well and that’s something that probably doesn’t get as much nonstop spin as the “color wars and stereotypes.”

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