22 September 2003
Choice of colors
This meme started floating around a few days ago, and I hadn't given it much thought, mostly due to doubts as to the extent of my qualifications, given the vectors of some of the branches on my family tree. Still, in a nation where racism is off the front burner but still very much a reality, surely it's worth the effort.
In the meantime: What does it mean to be white? Aldahlia answers:
It means that I come from a line of heroes, and assholes, and mothers, and drifters, and the the combination just happened to result in pale skin with freckles and visible veins. And, in a society like ours, white means that I have a duty to refute the idea that white is "normal" and everthing else is "ethnic," I have a duty to point out the harm of ingrained assumptions, and, above all, I have a duty always [to] know that if I'm looking for a world of equality, the first thing to understand, to hold to rigorous standards, and to ultimately change, is myself.
I am almost entirely freckleless, and occasionally entirely feckless, but mostly I'm on the same page here, and of course she's right; being white is not the default, so to speak, and given the current trends in births and immigration, it eventually won't be the majority. (In some areas, it's already happened.) I do have concerns about hyphenates, at least in terms of terminology; those who define themselves as Something-Or-Other-American, inevitably, if perhaps inadvertently, are putting the "American" aspect of themselves last, and I have trouble thinking of that as a Good Thing.
Still, whether you buy the old melting-pot metaphor or the more contemporary salad-bar concept, it's important to remember that we're all in this together, and the lamentations of a few extremists notwithstanding, we're gradually getting closer. And at this point indeed, at any point the labels matter less than the lives.
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