on how america changed race
February 7, 2014
yes. i”m talking about the… myth of us-centrism when it comes to race relations and white supremacy. because, i swear to my ancestors, i will not let this shit go. ever.1
it comes up again and again, that america has (somehow) foisted its notion of race relations onto the rest of the world. now: this is 100% a lie. and it is historically inaccurate.
it is frustrating enough when white europeans try to pull this move because it is really their attempt to dodge their complicity in creating and maintaining the system of white supremacy we have today. ethnicity is not race and, yes, there are white ethnicities in europe who face ethnic discrimination while still being white. but it is extra, mega troubling that i”m seeing a bunch of Asians buy into this as well.
i”m actually beginning to think that (unsurprisingly written by a white man) the way that some people describe the process by which the irish became white in america has done everyone a really massive disservice and fundamentally messed up with how we consider and understand whiteness and race.
the irish were (and are) always white. they were white in america when they first arrived to settle on stolen Indigenous land and they are white today. this is actually something that has never changed. look. when they starting settling in america, they were allowed to own property. this, on stolen land, is the ultimate and most important marker of whiteness.2 i think it is time to leave behind this notion that certain peoples can actually become white. it confuses the matter at hand and really lets people think that whiteness is more flexible than it actually is.
in old racial classifications the people from eastern europe were called ‘dirty whites”. nowadays, no one uses this term. and it is also pretty clear, however, that this is something that still impacts their lives and ethnic relations within europe. but dirty white is still white. and ethnic discrimination still isn”t racism.
but let us talk about a group of people that, indeed, the us has decided are white and this is, really, the only innovation on race that they”ve actually managed to push out into the world that didn”t find its origins in europe.
This is, of course, the reclassification in the US census of people from the middle east as ‘white”. despite the region nominally contained within the ‘asian continent” when people from this area move to the US they find that they are suddenly white. and this really has had a massive impact on racial discourse. because nowadays we hear a bunch about Islamophobia (which is definitely a real thing) but rarely is this actually connected to a longer history of white supremacy in the form of Orientalism.3
And the US”s global influences means that this is a notion that has largely been accepted by the world. and it becomes easy for disgusting white people to dismiss the notion of ‘Islamaphobia” as a real thing because it sounds like this newfangled made up thing, even though there isn”t anything new about it at all. and that the way that the US interacts with the middle east is also something inhereted from europe (their innovation being reclassing the peoples living there as ‘white”).4
Are people from the middle east white? Well. All the countries are in Asia. The people when abroad (or even in their respective countries) do not appear to have any of the white privileges. they are, without question, oppressed by white people. Said”s seminal theory of Orientalism traces the history of this logic of white supremacy to, you guessed it, the middle east.
I”m inclined to think not.
All these fucking people talking about US-centrism wrt race relations never ever talk about this. not a single one of them. instead they want to talk about people who are white and have always been white as somehow liminal casses erased from the american concept of race. like, i”m totally willing to start using ‘dirty white” to describe eastern european people, as per the classic racial classifications. i don”t mind. i mean, if i have to be brown or yellow (depending on who you ask), they can totes be dirty whites. but that is still white.
anyway. i”ll just leave of with this: if you want to talk about UScentrism and race relations, maybe actually try paying attention to both history and reality before you start pushing a fundamentally white supremacist notion of how the world works and is structured. okay?