White Culture is Culture

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I really enjoyed Br. TJ's recent piece on Stuff Postmodernists Like, reviewing the new version of Stuff White People Like.

One the key points about Stuff White People Like is that it makes white people realize they actually have culture. Really, "white people" means White (US) Americans (and maybe White English-speaking North Americans). Because white culture in The Netherlands, Germany, The British Isles, France, and Spain are quite different from each other as well as from The US. In US media, non-white groups are known to have culture: Black Culture/African American Culture, Asian Culture, and so forth. The dark side of this tendency is to assume "white" culture is the de facto norm and therefore is not a culture.

Stuff White People Like has shown that white people are in fact a recognizable culture. And as TJ's post notes, it's a culture with some positive history and current beneficial elements (as well as horribly dark history).

And this is a deeply postmodern insight. Postmodernism sees the world consisting of linguistic cultures. Cultures create worldviews in their members through common social practices, ways of relating interpreting life, and forms of bodily being. The other core insight of postmodernism is that no culture should be considered the norm. No culture should be hegemonic, including and especially white culture. But on the other hand, every culture (including white North American) has a place. Cultures are different from each other and quite unique in many ways.

The study of white culture (whiteology?) shouldn't be treated differently than any other culture--either positively or negatively.

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  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Wednesday, 29 December 2010 18:37 posted by TJ Dawe

    Glenn Beck squirms and dodges when Katie Couric asks him to define what he meant by "white culture" in a statement he'd made asserting that Obama hates white culture. He never answers: http://bit.ly/hykjK7

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Wednesday, 29 December 2010 21:05 posted by Chris Dierkes

    good point. Glenn Beck is a racist (in my mind) after all. To me since he equates America (and his political views about the meaning of America) with whiteness (not necessarily explicitly), then a political disagreement with him becomes a charge of reverse racism.

    Now to be fair, America was a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant nation. Though even there, Beck is a Mormon so he's benefited from the expansion of that definition of America to include non-Protestant whites (e.g. Jews, Catholics, and Mormons). Though not yet of course of Muslims.

    But America is no longer a WASP nation and Obama of all people represents that. Beck represents those for whom the move to a post-WASP America must be stopped. They are the braking mechanism in America. And it gets pretty ugly.

    Beck can't define white culture because to do so would be to move into a post-WASP, multiculturalist (postmodern) world. Instead, he wants white American culture to be the modernist norm and others to be defined in relation to that measuring stick. And those who don't measure up, are therefore racists.

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Thursday, 30 December 2010 17:38 posted by TJ Dawe

    something Glenn Beck doesn't acknowledge and that SWPL does is that there are a variety of subsets of white culture. SWPL, as I describe in my article, spoofs progressives - a group Beck rails against frequently (never mentioning how white they are). And there are other groupings of white culture, what Christian Lander refers to (quite humourously) in his blog as "the wrong kind of white people". When Whiteology becomes a subject of study, there will be experts on each domain, I imagine, writing theses on Nascar culture, suburban white culture, blue collar white culture, business elite class culture, rural white culture, and all of the various areas where these (and other) pockets overlap.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Thursday, 30 December 2010 22:57 posted by Chris Dierkes


    Exactly. I remember once a conversation I had with an African American woman in Detroit. She started talking about all the sub-groupings of Black Americans. I was blown away. This was like something I had never thought of--which in hindsight just shows how stupid I was. But she talked about country black people urban black people. Northerners versus Southerners versus West Coasters, etc.

    Why this wasn't obvious to me. I knew that was the case for white groups. I knew southern farmers are different than working class Irish Bostonians are different than Jewish New Yorkers are different than California Surfers are different than suburban Midwestern white guys (like myself). Italians are different than Germans, Protestants versus Catholics, and yet somehow I thought this only applied to white people.

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