Friday, November 7, 2008

white quotation of the week (shelly tochluk)




White folks who cannot fully recapture a lost cultural heritage, like myself, often experience a real sense of loss. Sure, there might be subcultures of whites who feel attached to what they see as a particularly American culture, like those who would claim a "Southern" culture.




However, many of us find ourselves looking at other groups and longing for the connection we imagine they feel with their roots, their homeland, their culture. Many white folks can be heard saying, "We don't have culture. They have culture."


Even if African Americans do not choose to reconnect with their African ancestral culture, many white folks generally imagine that Black culture in the United States is rich with meaning.





Many of us then travel and bring other group's cultural artifacts home with us. In my familial home, for example, we have puppets from Indonesia, figurines and baskets from Africa, a rug and bedspread from Guatemala, and carvings from Mexico. For a long time, I saw my inclinations toward tourism as evidence of my openness and respect for other cultures, having no idea how much it also betrayed my inner sense of loss.

In the mid-1990s, I attended a performance put on by the UCLA Drama Department. In one main hall, individual artists each had a roped-off section of space. Each enacted a cultural way of being. There was someone representing Santeria, another enacting a Middle-Eastern culture I cannot remember.

And then I saw her, the white woman.

I stood transfixed in front of the white female artist. She sat on a chair on a square stage four feet above the crowd in a glass case. She wore a delicate white dress and was holding a bag from Pier 1 Imports. She admired the exotic artifacts from lands abroad one after the other. I stood transfixed for several minutes, trying to sort out the emotion rising in me.

There was something very discomforting about seeing her that way. I recognized that woman. She was me. Or at least, she had been me. She was my mother. She was my grandmother, perhaps to some lesser degree. I felt that, that blandness, that plainness, that whiteness. I felt her whiteness as a lack, a loss. I felt this loss in my bones. I could barely move as I was reminded of how I loved what other cultures have precisely because I know the emptiness that results when tradition is traded in for whiteness.

I know that I am not alone. I hear the same sentiments too much from other white people. If anything, this is one of the truest hallmarks of whiteness that I have yet encountered. There is a hole within many of us, created when our families gave up our culture in order to be successful in the United States.

Of course, there are plenty of people from other groups and cultures who also travel, collect artifacts, and shop at Pier 1 Imports. However, the collection of objects is not the important point. What struck me most was the deep, underlying pain that I hear emerge from many white people as they discuss what it means for them to feel connected to another culture.

At this time, with what I now see, there is nothing about that setting that feels coincidental: the glass separating the woman from the audience, the stage that put her on a pedestal, the center, privileged position within the room, and the way her presence commanded attention. Even given that secure foundation, she exuded a sense of loss, of being lost, adrift in the larger world . . . captured by the glass case.



Shelly Tochluk is an educator with a background in psychology. She spent ten years as a researcher, counselor, and teacher in California's public schools and now trains educators to work with the diverse Los Angeles school population as an assistant professor of education at Mount St. Mary's College, Los Angeles, California.

37 comments:

  1. This? Fucking brilliant. I went to a workshop where this was discussed.

    I do consider myself southern--very, very much so. LOL, have you seen the name of my blog?

    But! During that workshop I did realize the loss of culture my own family experienced. My Granny's grandparents immigrated here from Germany (then Prussia), my Granny's Mama spoke German, when my Granny was little her 2 oldest sibilings spoke German--they stopped after they started school. My great-grandmother didn't teach it to any more of her children.

    After this workshop I asked my Granny if she ever wished she would have been taught it. She stopped what she was doing and just looked at me and said, "Oh yes....all the time." And my Granny is a typical southern elderly white person in the fact she's racist.

    But, it was then that I realized that the journey to "becoming white" hurts everyone, even white folks.

    That said. I am going to buy this book.

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  2. Interesting. Do you think it's not that we "lose culture," but are made less aware of it as we are granted a privileged spot in society? Perhaps if it were the other way around and whites found themselves in the minority, we would see a sudden re-emergence of interest and defining of a "white culture" (and not the nasty KKK kind). And the racial/ethnic group that found itself in the privileged majority, having less of a need to bond via a common background, would then "lose" their cultural identity?

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  3. This white quotation/post is dumb and full of privilege. "We don't have culture. They have culture." As if.

    Even a person of colour who is adopted by white people and is raised in white culture and knows nothing about any non-white culture is still treated as a non-white person. And white people who don't know this person of colour will comment on how "jealous" they are of her that she has "culture" and they don't because they're white.

    Is this really "culture" that the person of colour has, or is it being considered exotic?

    White Americans think that White Canadians have Canadian culture and White British have British culture, but that White Americans are the only people in the world who have no culture. This is ethnocentric bias to the extreme.

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  4. Yes lorraine, I have seen your blog--the name puts me in mind of Hank Williams, and yeah, of something (white) Southern, and maybe more than that too, though I'm not sure how to label it. And I agree, becoming white hurts everyone, even white folks.

    Phoebe, those are great but complicated questions!

    You wrote,

    Do you think it's not that we "lose culture," but are made less aware of it as we are granted a privileged spot in society? Perhaps if it were the other way around and whites found themselves in the minority, we would see a sudden re-emergence of interest and defining of a "white culture" (and not the nasty KKK kind).

    The culture(s) addressed as lost in Tochluk's quotation are those of the countries that white Americans' ancestors came from, not some current "white American" culture that whites aren't aware of as such. If there is such a thing, yes, we are made less aware of it as such. Some of us will probably be around to see if, in the future, whites do try to assert some sort of "white American culture" when (as census figures predict) they become a racial minority. So far, I don't know what particular examples of that culture would be. Do you? What cultural practices are widespread across enough white Americans, as opposed to common practices (assuming even those exist) of other, non-white Americans, to be considered examples of plain "white culture"? As opposed to some subset, as in "suburban culture," or "NASCAR culture," or maybe, "hipster culture"? (which is not to say, by the way, that I think such subsets consist of only white people).

    As for your last question, about some racial/ethnic group eventually losing its sense of its own culture as it becomes a majority, as whites have in terms of some simply "white" culture, I doubt it. For one thing, I don't foresee some particular non-white group becoming the majority, at least not for a long, long time; whites are likely to become a minority, but the non-white majority will consist of several non-white groups.

    Also, American "whiteness" formed primarily as an instrument of power, and as a bleaching away of what newly "white" people were before. Whiteness and its supposedly superior attributes were used to "justify" enslavement of "black" people and theft of "Indian" lands, and also to encourage initially non-white immigrants, primarily from Europe, to trade in or bleach out their national/"ethnic" specificity and "culture" in order to become "white." So those are factors in the white American loss of a sense of culture that I don't see coming up in a white-minority future.

    Does that help?

    restructure!, what is this "white culture" of which you write? What in America is labeled and widely recognized as, simply, "white culture"? If there is such a thing, then why do white Americans not embrace it, instead of seeing "culture" in non-white people and feeling the loss that Tochluk writes of in this quotation? Also, why is it "dumb" of her to try to describe and understand that common white feeling of loss? And if there is a culture that's common to white Americans, one that's not embraced by many non-white Americans, and it's just not widely recognized and labeled by white Americans AS "white," what are some examples of it?

    And to answer your question about presumptuous white projections onto an adopted non-white person: I would say that "being considered exotic" is a pretty good way to describe that.

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  5. Macon D,

    why can't you see that white culture is invisible to you?

    white culture, a set of double standards, that views other cultures
    and peoples as the other,
    exotic, inferior, sub-human,

    a system of standards that benefit white people and harm people of color.

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  6. kathy, I can see that what you're writing about is invisible to most white people, but much of it's no longer invisible to me. Read around on this blog for awhile and you'll see what I mean--much of what I'm doing here is an effort to expose what you describe.

    Also, can't you see that Tochluk is writing about "culture" in a different sense, as in, something to embrace, as many groups of non-white people do theirs? And that in this sense, a lot of white people feel a lack, a hole in themselves, that they try to fill up with artifacts and even practices from other apparent cultures?

    You seem to be addressing the questions I asked Restructure!, but I don't think you're actually doing so.

    Something that might help here, Kathy--what is your definition of "culture"?

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  7. culture, food, language, religion, belief system, family structure system, political system, matriarchy, partriarchy, ethnocentric, point of view.

    no, i am not trying to answer for anybody, i have my particular point of view, although i have high regards for restructure!

    white people are not trying to fill a hole, give me a break, white people are trying on other peoples sacred things for a thrill or to feel cool, then they just take them right off again when they get bored. guilty mental stroking is what shelly tochluck is touching on in my opinion.

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  8. Kathy: I'm sure you're right about why some white people turn to other cultures, and I'm sure that Tochluk is right about why some others do it.

    I didn't mean to say that you were answering for Restructure!, but rather that you seemed to be addressing the same questions that I asked her.

    Thanks for the definition of culture. I'd like to ask for examples (though it seems to me that you still haven't addressed what Tochluk is addressing, which is the concept of a culture widely recognized AS "white" by white people, and thus embraceable as a cultural heritage). What is an example of just plain "white food"? As opposed to, say, Southern (white) food, or some other subset of white people?

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  9. ok i'll steal one from a well known writer,
    how about steak and bread?

    shepards pie, potato latkes, irish stew, german pot roast, roast beef with gravy and whipped potatos, bacon and eggs over easy, dairy queen, the old diner in woolworths or k-mart, roast turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, english muffins,cows milk?

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  10. I find it a bit sad that white people cannot touch another culture or explore another culture without being thought of as exploiting the other culture. How are we supposed to have a dialogue if we are to be segregated?
    While I agree that the notions of privilege and inferiority have been set by whites, I don't think that that constitutes a definition of the culture. That would imply that racism is inherent in being white, which I disagree with.
    What if a Black person were to decorate his or her home with Asian art? Would that be considered as exploitative as a White person doing the same?

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  11. Thanks Kathy, those are interesting examples. Which well-known writer says that steak and bread is a "white food"? I wonder if lower-class white Americans would, if asked for examples of "white food," answer with "steak and bread"?

    Are you saying that other cultures don't drink "cow's milk"? I'm not sure that's a "white food" either. Same with Turkey and stuffing and the other parts of a "Thanksgiving meal"; there does seem to be a way to say that Thanksgiving is a white American holiday, but then, other, non-white Americans celebrate it too, don't they? And don't many non-white people also have such food on that day? Again, I'm not sure this food would come to mind for an ordinary white person as an example of "white food," a food they could embrace as an explicit example of a "white" tradition, of, that is, "white culture."

    Some of the rest of your examples are not simply "white." In America, they're "ethnic," a word used to distinguish people from white Americans. Some of the others seem to me marked by social class--again, not simply "white," and not recognized as such, and thus as embraceable as a part of "white culture," by most white Americans.

    My point then, in relation to Tochluk's quotation, is that white people sometimes feel such a hole, or lack, when they think about their own "culture" because very little that seems cultural or traditional today seems simply "white." Maybe German American or Irish American or Southern, but not just white. This mainly happened because when their ancestors became white, and thus, back then, the most accepted, explicitly "American" of Americans, they bleached out and lost their cultural "ethnic" traditions, and picked up "American" ones instead. But, as I understand it, as America became a "melting pot" that affirmed the value of melted-together traditions from many peoples and cultures, white people were left with few if any specific traditions and culture to call their own. When the Civil Rights era came along, and ethnic and racial affirmation for non-white groups with it, many whites were left wondering what their traditions and culture are. Many turned to those of their European ancestors (many Italian Americans, for instance, reaffirmed a claim to Columbus Day as an Italian American holiday), because they couldn't find some sort of "white" solidarity to grab onto in cultural terms. Some others, like Tochluk, grabbed onto other people's cultures, sometimes to fill a lack inside themselves, and sometimes, as you said, for a thrill or to feel cool.

    Rosaxe, I don't think Tochluk (nor myself) would necessarily say that a white person should never have contact with other people and their cultures. I think she and the artist she describes are instead rethinking why they really do so. Is it genuine, open, humble, learning contact, or merely "commodity racism" grounded in romantic, exotifying fantasies about who other people supposedly are, or often, were? Rather than based on some more genuine knowledge, gathered through sincere, respectful, extended, educated contact? (I think the latter is more acceptable, but really, who am I, as a white guy, to say?)

    Also, in many instances of curious contact from whites to another culture, the other culture and its people have been abused and exploited by white people (a process which often formed the egregious fantasies blocking the white person's truer perception of who the other people really are and how they really live today). So, if a black person were to decorate his or her home with Asian art, I doubt that would be considered as exploitative as a white person doing the same. At any rate, I don't think that in such cases, it's up to me as a white person to say either way.

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  12. white culture is also what is often considered just as 'American culture':
    skyscrapers, Hollywood, Christianity, Broadway, blue jeans, Statue of America, Christmas, English etc

    The loss whites may feel is based I guess on the loss of meaning in life. A privileged life can feel empty, not because of loss of culture but because of loss of soul.

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  13. Macon,

    those foods that you call ethnic have become white ethnic groups.

    i don't think white people feel that empty hole you refer to, most white people are still either colorblind, and think about how far we have come, or aren't thinking about it at all. See, white culture doesn't make white people think about their own cultures, because they consider their culture to be the standard by which all other cultures are measured.

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  14. Macon, drinking cows milk and eating cheese are very American.

    Can dairy cows even survive in some climates? I don't think so.

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  15. Macon, it's not the point whether or not people of other ethnic groups eat or celebrate the Christmas turkey. That has nothing to do with whether or not something is white culture.

    If you go to the the mountains of Puerto Rico, and eat at a pig roast, does that make you suddenly Puerto Rican? I think not. The food is Puerto Rican, not who eats it.
    The point is that if other ethnic groups celebrate white american colonial culture, it doesn't make it a new ethnic food or change the origin.
    How the food is presented, seasoned, and cooked may vary but Corned Beef and cabbage is still an Irish dish, hence white.

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  16. Shelly Tochluk is part of the problem with education, show me where this supposed "hole" is.

    White American Culture is the standard by which white people judge all other culture or ethnic groups.

    White People are so full of their culture that they are not forced to think about privilege in those terms.

    Even considering themselves to have this "hole" and loss of culture is privilege.

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  17. Thank you for posting this, Macon, it sounds like something I've been looking for.

    I think for radicals & progressives, the hole is even bigger because we're trying to cut out the most malignant parts of the "bleached" culture we've inherited.

    I belong to a church that says one of our tasks is to reimagine the world - but it's way too easy to pick up the building blocks of other people's cultures (including European-descended people from other places and times) instead of making our own.

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  18. kathy said:

    Macon, drinking cows milk and eating cheese are very American.

    Can dairy cows even survive in some climates? I don't think so.


    Where do you get your information?!

    The Masai are an African tribe who herd cows. They drink the milk and the blood of cows.

    Eating cheese is very Italian and French, too! They, the French and Italians, were making and eating cheese looooooong before there was a "white America."

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  19. italian and french are white people.

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  20. red cat, glad you are not dead,in fact, white people like cheese, and milk from white milk, from a holstein, black and white, simple as that.
    you're example is ok ,but not quite accurate, when you are discussing white people.

    my opinions are not hard and fast, just mine.

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  21. Macon, it's not the point whether or not people of other ethnic groups eat or celebrate the Christmas turkey. That has nothing to do with whether or not something is white culture.

    If you go to the the mountains of Puerto Rico, and eat at a pig roast, does that make you suddenly Puerto Rican? I think not. The food is Puerto Rican, not who eats it.
    The point is that if other ethnic groups celebrate white american colonial culture, it doesn't make it a new ethnic food or change the origin.


    Yes, exactly. His logic doesn't even make any sense. He wants "a culture that's common to white Americans, one that's not embraced by many non-white Americans," but he doesn't apply the same standards to what he thinks of as "non-white culture". If his logic was consistent, then sushi is not "non-white" either, since sushi is embraced by many white Americans.

    It's as if whiteness is so invisible to white people like Macon D that they don't notice that they are still white while eating sushi. All they notice is the "ethnic-ness" of the sushi, which to them, eclipses their being.

    By the way, I posted a rant about this post - White people say, “White people have no culture.” - because I realized that it's hard to try to explain what I want to say in comment-space.

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  22. Thanks for the link, Restructure! For anyone who might still be reading this comment thread, I left the following comment at Restructure!'s blog, where, on the basis of several paragraphs from a book that I reprinted for this post, Restructure! writes about what an "effed up" white person Shelly Tochluk is:

    Thanks Restructure! for these apparently preliminary thoughts. I hope that if you do revise this, as you say you hope to do, you read Tochluk's book first. You seem to set her up here as a hopelessly ignorant racist on the basis of a few paragraphs from her book, but in it, she fully acknowledges elsewhere most or all of what you're ranting about here. The two of you (and me) are much more in agreement than you seem to realize.

    Yes, of course it's ridiculous to look at a non-white face and assume that person has some deep connection to a culture--Tochluk's paragraphs, and my post, are an effort to understand why so many white people do that, and why they don't seem to have some sort of collective, simply "white" culture of their own to grab onto themselves. That's not to say there isn't actually something we could identify as "white culture" (though I'm still not sure that's even possible). Rather, it's to say that white Americans themselves generally don't perceive something they can collectively grasp and affirm as simply "white culture," as opposed to such white subsets as Southern (white) culture, or Irish American/Irish culture, and so on.

    Yes, as you wrote, "racialization" is important here, and when it comes to white folks today, they've been racialized as well. And one result is that in racial terms, they usually think of themselves as individuals, and of non-white people as members of more or less homogeneous groups. One manifestation of having been atomized by this individualization process is that white people don't perceive some collective, simply "white" culture of their own, and they do tend to perceive others as having it.

    So some white Americans, many of whom aren't even sure which countries their relatives came from, feel a lack, a "hole" in this sense, and as Tochluk writes, some of them reach out to what seem to be other cultures in an effort to fill that lack. Many suburban white boys, as we know, do this with supposedly black, urban hip hop culture--they see nothing around them in the suburbs to embrace, and nothing "white" they want to embrace either; they also don't see some sort of "white culture" (though they might see "suburban" or "white suburban" culture). Tochluk and I both say we've done that ourselves in our own ways, and we know that's wrong, and we're trying to expose that common white tendency. We say that, in part, in an effort to understand better why even "well-educated" white Americans do this. And also as an effort to excise from ourselves the socially induced tendency toward egregious Otherizing that you mostly seem to be writing about here.

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  23. what does Tochluk write about anti-racist culture. What does she call anti-racist culture?

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  24. kathy said...
    red cat, glad you are not dead,in fact, white people like cheese, and milk from white milk, from a holstein, black and white, simple as that.
    you're example is ok ,but not quite accurate, when you are discussing white people.

    my opinions are not hard and fast, just mine.



    Huh? Kathy, there are many different kinds of cows and cheeses all over the world. Cattle were being domesticated in Asia and the Middle East. Cheese has been around as long as cattle and other mammals were domesticated and milked. Hindus revere cows as sacred and will milk them but not eat them. They will make cheese from the milk. They have recently found traces of milk in 8,500 year old containers in Turkey. People likely made cheese and fermented milk products like yogurt long before they began to drink the milk. I'm not sure how it's a "white" food other than it's color, which is a product of the chemical composition of milk and its reaction with light. Different cows can surviive in vastly different climates. From heavy coated Scottish cows to cattle in Africa.

    I think there is "white" culture, but not a really universal "white American" culture. I do celebrate my Scottish and German heritage, but that's not something shared by all whites in the US. At least not a culture whites can be proud of or celebrate. Perhaps it's a result of being the race that oppresses the minorities. Minorities share experiences while whites really don't speak of any shared experiences. Also, I think a part of it comes from the fact that until European exploreres started coming to the Americas, people identified more with their nationals groups. They were English or French or Italian. After the time they had contact with many other races, the identification between black and white came into being. This is probably due to a rationalization for oppression of Native Americans and slavery.

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  25. Restructure! I! suppose! your! zeal! for! serving! as! a! watchdog! of! white! anti-racists! is! admirable!

    However, in the process of having little more to say about them, especially Macon, than enraged negativity, you set up cartoonish versions of them as your targets. Have you read Tochluk's book? Do you know her? If not, how can you set HER up like that? And what's with this "what a bunch of worthless white anti-racists we have here! let's denounce them!" attitude anyway? How helpful is that??

    Instead of trying sincerely to understand where such white thinkers are coming from in their efforts to understand how whiteness works, including what it's done to them, and what it's done WRONG to them, you just wait in the bushes for moments when you can spring out and tell them that they're doing THAT wrong too. And aside from the fact that you do little more than attack and tear down, the bigger problem is that you don't even make a sincere effort to understand what these struggling anti-racists are saying; you get a lot of it wrong.

    Here's an example, where you wrote:

    He wants "a culture that's common to white Americans, one that's not embraced by many non-white Americans," but he doesn't apply the same standards to what he thinks of as "non-white culture". If his logic was consistent, then sushi is not "non-white" either, since sushi is embraced by many white Americans.

    As I read his comments, he himself doesn't want a culture that's common to white Americans; he asked you what "white culture" is, since you claimed there is such a thing, implying that there is something that's known by most white people AS "white culture." I think that Macon and Tochluk are writing about why white folks, including themselves, reach out to OTHER cultures instead. They both admit they've done that, and in ways that are wrong because they're just fantasies about other cultures, and they're trying to fill up a hole they feel inside themselves because their society has not clearly identified some "white culture" they can embrace in a celebratory way.

    Also, yes, sushi is embraced by many white Americans, but not as THEIR culture. So his "logic" is not inconsistent here.

    And how the hell can you reasonably say that whiteness is "so invisible" to Macon? An objective assessment of his blog renders that statement ridiculous, and it undercuts severely anything else you have to say. And it's precisely that, "an objective assessment," which you repeatedly fail to deliver when it comes to summarizing and commenting on Macon's writings. Can you spell "c-o-n-c-e-r-n t-r-o-l-l"?

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  26. To answer your question, jw, she says a lot about anti-racist culture, more than I can summarize here. Here's a sample, from a chapter entitled, "How Can We Create a Witnessing Culture?" (I wish there were some online reviews I could point you to, but since it came out this year, none seem to have appeared yet.)

    The goal: Transform the current, dominant form of white culture into an antiracist white culture that regularly names and dismantles racism and white privilege. This work may be started at home, extend into our classrooms, and infused into our work settings. This is long-range work. Transforming familial and school culture understandably requires much time and collective effort. But in the midst of that individual struggle, we must simultaneously hold a larger view of our collective role. This work must also extend outward into the various reaches of our influence, community groups, relgious/spiritual affiliations, and social networks. Yes, we may start this work with a small circle of friends, family, students, and colleagues. However, our ultimate goal must remain the transformation of white culture overall.

    Since the existence of "white culture" is itself contested, let me be really specific. What we need to transform is the white culture people speak of that is associated with segregated lives, isolation, disconnection, individualism, sanitization, arrogance, obliviousness, entitlement, unrecognized privileges, the avoidance of social concerns faced by disproportionate numbers of people of color, the sense of self as normal, innocent, and unaffected by race, and the acceptance of Western ideals as universal and the only valid way of seeing the world.

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  27. chocoholic,
    i do know that cows and cattle and all kinds of animals live all over the world, however the way united states of white america drink milk is more than the color white. it's cold, filled with anti-biotics, and we have plenty of refrigerators.

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  28. "Since the existence of "white culture" is itself contested, let me be really specific. What we need to transform is the white culture people speak of that is associated with segregated lives, isolation, disconnection, individualism, sanitization, arrogance, obliviousness, entitlement," shelly tochluk

    white culture is not contested, except by white people. this is just more blabbering, where does Tochuk say that white people are the problem with white racism?

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  29. Kathy, Tochluk says it repeatedly throughout the book, including the part that I quoted for this post. Look again, for instance, at the way she describes the setting for the white performance artist who got her thinking about her own problematic consumption of other apparent cultures:

    the glass separating the woman from the audience, the stage that put her on a pedestal, the center, privileged position within the room, and the way her presence commanded attention.

    She clearly sees these aspects of this performance art and its setting as representative of several ways in which white people are the problem with white racism.

    You should find a copy of her book; I think you'd like it.

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  30. macon, there you go again, it's not the "problematic consumption of "apparent cultures".

    white culture fills up most of the space in the media, our institutions, our education system, we are surrounded by white culture, there is no "hole" to fill, we are already filled with white culture, what you keep insisting on is to make other people's ethnic heritage" less than", the "other", "more exotic", "more interesting." at the same time affirming in your own way, that you believe in your own superiority. Even the photo you use to illustrate the post highlights the focus you seem to have on making other ethnic practices exotic.

    If anything, white people are bored with roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy, but are we really interested in dismantling the privilege of double standards?

    and just what is "apparent cultures"?

    please, i don't want to read that book, you have highlighted enough about it for me.

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  31. runawayfred,

    Your comment reveals your distorted view of how the world should be, and how POC should be more respectful to white anti-racists because they are "struggling". You say that my response contains "negativity", as if criticism of white anti-racist work is destructive of antiracism itself. Is it "positivity" that you want POC to give to whites? Do you believe that POC are helpful only when we hand out cookies to "struggling" white antiracists?

    In your little world, POC like me wait in the bushes and search high and low, far and wide, for any signs of racism so that we can make white people look bad. To you, racism is something rare that occurs once in a blue moon. White liberals think that racism occurs with white conservatives, but never within white liberals. Many white antiracists think that racism occurs within non-antiracist whites, but never within themselves. It's always "those other white people" who are racist, and POC who call out racism must be "searching", "reaching", and playing the race card for personal benefit, according to you.

    Perhaps you should stop serving up the same typical white argument about how POC are "looking for racism" and realize that you, as a person with white privilege, are not the best judge on racism's pervasiveness.

    You, runawayfred, don't even make a sincere effort to understand what I am saying; you get a lot of it wrong.

    As I read his comments, he himself doesn't want a culture that's common to white Americans; he asked you what "white culture" is, since you claimed there is such a thing, implying that there is something that's known by most white people AS "white culture."

    By "want", I wasn't saying that he wants a "white culture", "one that's not embraced by many non-white Americans." I was saying that he wants me to specify what "white culture" is, with the additional specification that the "white culture" is not embraced by many non-white Americans.

    You, yourself, set up a cartoonish version of what I was saying as your target, as if my complaint was, "Macon D wants white culture! That's like white nationalism, which is racist!!!"

    I think that Macon and Tochluk are writing about why white folks, including themselves, reach out to OTHER cultures instead. They both admit they've done that, and in ways that are wrong because they're just fantasies about other cultures, and they're trying to fill up a hole they feel inside themselves because their society has not clearly identified some "white culture" they can embrace in a celebratory way.

    Yes, I realize that, but my criticism has nothing to do with the topic of cultural appropriation.

    Also, yes, sushi is embraced by many white Americans, but not as THEIR culture. So his "logic" is not inconsistent here.

    Who embraces sushi as THEIR culture, then? Japanese Americans?

    And how the hell can you reasonably say that whiteness is "so invisible" to Macon? An objective assessment of his blog renders that statement ridiculous, and it undercuts severely anything else you have to say.

    I can reasonably say that whiteness is "so invisible" to Macon, because a lot of his unproblematic posts are views of whiteness that are obvious to many POC, and are topics that POC have written and talked about for a very long time. You are assuming that what is daily experience for many POC is something hidden and insightful when written by a white person. When a white person shows you the tip of the iceberg and a POC says that this white person is so blind to the size of the iceberg, you think that what the POC says is crazy because the tip of the iceberg is above the water instead of being completely submerged. That the iceberg is visible at all does not prove that there isn't a much larger, invisible part.

    And it's precisely that, "an objective assessment," which you repeatedly fail to deliver when it comes to summarizing and commenting on Macon's writings. Can you spell "c-o-n-c-e-r-n t-r-o-l-l"?

    You are not the arbitrator of objectivity, when you yourself misunderstand my arguments and make a caricature of them. You yourself are trolling right now with your childish name-calling. Do you hear yourself?

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  32. This is great! It capture in som way the feelings I have had listening to the reactions of some of the white conservative's who comment on my blog.

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  33. Hi Bridge, that's really interesting--could you please explain that a bit? Do you mean the post is great, or this discussion in the comments? Could you say what it is in particular that reminds you of conservatives who comment on your blog?

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  34. Kathy,

    I'll agree with you on that one about the milk being full of antibiotics and we all have refrigerators. :) I'm going to assume places without lots of refrigeration drink milk straight from the cow or preserve it by making cheese. I just wasn't sure how much you knew because you said before "Can dairy cows even survive in some climates? I don't think so." I think all cows are "dairy" cows since they are mammals and will produce milk. I suppose it depends on how you intend to use the cow as to what you classify it as. I just wanted to point out that milk and cheese, in general, is not a White American food and to say so seems to play into a Eurocentric history of the world and fails to acknowledge the contributions of non-European societies. Most of the other food you mentioned does have a root in European culture.

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  35. chocoholic, i watched a documentary once on an attempt to raise dairy cows in a simulated environment in a desert, it didn't work. i will see if i can find it.

    the way we consume and process milk and cheese is distinctly white american, although i will agree that ethnocentric thinking is not something that disappears in a day or a year, or lifetime, for me, it's an ongoing process and of course, my filter, or point of view will be affected by that.

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  36. Wow I have said this before, but I am jealous of white people. They are able to trace their ancestry I always thought, I thought they had a culture and history.

    Me as a black person, all I have is an assumption. I come from Africa, what parts of Africa I am unaware. I am part white, but how much and from where it comes from I am not sure. My history amounts to nothing but servitude and some fragmented and limited slave records, beyond that I have nothing. My culture is something that is completely made up, as I can never be considered the same as an African or other person of color from another country. I have felt I was never truly American in the eyes of America, but rather something tolerated and accepted as there was no real way to send me "back" to where I came from.

    It never occurred to me that white people feel they have no culture, as I felt that is primarily what I have been exposed to as a black person living in America.

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  37. White ethnicities are just as mixed together as Black people's, it's just that European immigrants traded theirs in voluntarily, in return for privilege, instead of having it ripped from them involuntarily.

    We are all steeped in White American culture, it's dominant all around us...but if you strip out the bad parts (white supremacism, sexism, cowboy violence, lies, industrial food, Manifest Destiny, not dancing...) there's not too much left. So a lot of progressive whites reach out for what we see other people have, instead of doing the hard work of picking through for the good stuff and building on it.

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