Is it racist to be proud of White Culture?

The notion of “White Heritage” or “White Culture” is inherently racist, because “White” is not and never has been a cohesive historical cultural group.

This is an important point: to say that you are proud of your Irish heritage or your German heritage or your British heritage makes sense. In those cases, there are thousands of years of common history and unifying cultural experiences that can be drawn upon and remembered, that can unite families and groups. That is because “Germans” or “The Irish” or “The French” are defined in terms of collections of people who share traditions and a long, complex history.

“White” doesn’t define a group of people based on shared history. They define a group of people based on skin pigmentation. It is as nonsensical as it would be to talk about “Left-Handed Person Culture and Heritage”. There is literally no “culture” there to be “proud of” (or otherwise). It is an artificially-defined group that is not, can could not, be based on anything more than assumptions-made-base-on-skin-color.

That is the very essence of racism.

 


 

Doesn’t this argument equally apply to “black culture” or “African culture”?

Yes, it absolutely does.

I understand that things like “Black History Month” and the notion of “Black Heritage” were the first steps that our society has been taking to right a wrong.  As such, they are a  “step in the right direction”: certainly, acknowledging that “black people” came from somewhere is better than ignoring “black people” completely, or pretending that Africans were savages who had no valuable traditions at all.

But still, let’s think about it: Africa is a gigantic continent. Even if you know nothing else about Africa, does it make intuitive sense to think that it has a single history, a single people, a single set of traditions?  Of course not.  There is no “African culture” any more than there is an “Asian culture”. Remember that the continent “Asia” spans everything from Iran to Russia to China: do they all have one “culture”?

I’m not going to lambast the idea of “Black History Month”, because it was created as a baby-step.  It was better than what was there before it.

But it’s still racist to assume that all people who have the same skin pigmentation, or who come from the same continent, all have the same history and traditions and culture.

 


 

How can you be proud without being racist?

One thing that I’ve noticed about people who are actually proud of their backgrounds (rather than people who are using the idea of “pride” as an excuse for something else) is that they do research.

They want to know where their family members were buried, how they lived, what religions they were, and what food they ate.  They try to find marriage records and immigration documents and photos.  People who have pride in their heritage look for the details.

AncestorsI’m proud of my heritage. I have a great-grandfather who was named Данило Пиҗ. He lived in a small village near the towns of Борислав and Дрогобич, in the Kingdom of Галичина (Galicia), part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On the other side of my family, I have a great-grandfather who grew up in the capitol of the Kingdom of Bavaria, part of the German Empire. I am half German, and half Ukrainian/Galician, and both of those sides have a fascinating and unique and deeply complicated history and culture.

And I am proud to be the product of those stories, and those traditions.

It is certainly much more interesting, and much more meaningful from both a familial and a historical perspective, than to claim that I am somehow proud of being “white”.

 



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  1. so_lowe says:

    I disagree about it being racist for “black culture.” Being black in America has become of symbol of connection and commonality for descendants of slaves who cannot trace their history pass slavery to specific ethnic groups and tribes in Africa. But I guess if you wanted to make it more politically correct, we would call it “African Diaspora History Month” or “African Diaspora culture.” Great observation though!

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