Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Moving Beyond Race: Addressing the "White Culture" Narrative

When I was young I grew up in a predominately black neighborhood. I went to a school where I was the minority (the only Puerto Rican) and where black students were the majority. Each month felt like Black History Month as I was taught about black leaders and inventors like George Washington Carver, Henry Blair, and Madam C.J. Walker. While their accomplishments never ceased to amaze me, I always questioned why we hardly celebrated the accomplishments of Irish Americans, Russian Americans, German Americans, and Polish Americans. All groups which must have contributed to the America in some way by inventions, businesses, and culture. Nevertheless these groups aren't given a month or a week to proclaim to the rest of American society "look our culture accomplished something great within this nation."

At this point you may be wondering why this is the case, and being the curious mind that I am, as a child I asked teachers to explain it to me. The problem with my question, it seemed, was that I had made the mistake in believing European cultures within America, such as Italian, German, Irish, Polish, Russian, French, and English were actually different. What these pro-black teachers decided to do was to take these cultures and amalgamate them into one: white culture. "White culture" was described as something all encompassing, powerful, oppressive, and out of reach for someone like myself to fully grasp. It was said to have been the foundation of Western Civilization from which black people were taken as slaves, were sold, freed, and now left to live separately in ghettos with their own "black culture." This reasoning leads us to why many black people to this day believe Black History Month is valuable, because they believe those who are "black" are not viewed as part of the historical fabric of American culture or as they bluntly put it "white culture," thus a month designated for black people is the only way to promote what they view as a separate culture within American society.

Expanding upon this idea pro-blacks are marketing the concept of "being proud blacks" with sayings like "I love my blackness," and "no apologies for being black." Groups like the Black Panthers and Black Lives Matter love the idea of "white culture," and use it as an excuse to separate themselves from American laws, customs, and values. Fundamentally the concept of an amalgamated "white culture" needs to exist in order for pro-black extremist rhetoric to flourish. How do I know this to be the case? If you are a black person who decides to promote American values such as freedom, equal opportunity, democracy, and the ability to achieve within the U.S. no matter your race, what will black people call you? An uncle-Tom, an aunt-Jamima, a sell-out, an Oreo, different from the rest of "black culture" and you will be shunned by those for having a difference of opinion.

Fast forward to the present, certain people within a political group called the "alternative right" in my opinion hold a similar view. Racial realists or as their critics call them "intellectual racists" propose that people with "white" European heritage are on the brink of extinction, or at least their culture is, and they are critical of the immigration policies that in their eyes have dissolved their identity within their respective western countries. "Non-white" countries are viewed as inferior by way of their political structures and culture whereby most non-white countries have no democracy or liberties in the same way that Western countries do. However, side stepping away from racial realism, the best and most persuasive video on what the alternative right means in my opinion is one made by Ramzpaul, where he says the alternative right is merely a group, usually white people, who want to maintain their survival as a culture and a heritage, he didn't outright mention the term "white people," rather he focused on nationalism and the fear of the erosion of a national/cultural identity. That is something I think most people can sympathize with and I appreciate the clarification of this group, nevertheless we are on the subject of some of those within this group racial realists, so out of curiosity there are some questions I would like addressed:

(1) If it is the case that western ideals such as freedom, democracy, and individualism were founded by white people then could the case also be made that white people founded other contradictory ideas in other regions of West including socialism, progressivism, and collectivism? Is the white race responsible for atrocities Nazism? Or are the places where they were founded, or perhaps the people who founded them not white? Again, if you are going to say that race has a direct correlation to the culture, you must also say that even horrible cultural choices decided by one member of group of your same race are inherent within everyone of that race. Is it not a surprise that with this same line of thinking one could mistake racial realists for a bunch of new wave Nazis?

Additionally how are racial realists going to convince "white" people there actually is an all encompassing "white culture" that they all are somehow apart of? Many "white" people that I have asked either don't believe it exists or if it does exist they ignore it. To try to convince them they would have to believe Irish culture is akin to German culture as well as American culture and Italian culture, etc. Also they would have to explain to "white" Americans why being white is the catalyst or contributor by which all decisions are determined. Since many race realists believe that whites have some sort of gene that predetermines individualism this should come as no shock to them that white people wouldn't be too open to the idea of collective "white cultural" thinking.

(2) Next, if the alternative right believe that white people invented ideals such as freedom, democracy, and individualism then why aren't they promoting those same values and extending the same courtesy at least to those who have come to their respective countries legally, and in good faith? Is there no hope for a legal immigrant moving to the United States to be fully viewed as someone who would accept the same values you do or is it nearly impossible for them to assimilate if they are of a different race? What about if they are of a different culture? I would agree that some cultures are incompatible with Western values however I will not go so far as to assume their inability to have a compatible culture is due to their race. More to the point, it was my belief that within American history the abolitionist movement was founded mostly by white people. These white people wanted to have an America where there was no slavery of blacks (or anyone for that matter). The civil rights movement didn't only have black activists but white activists who promoted the idea of equal opportunity and equal justice under the law. Were these white activists against their own race, or were they true to the "white values" that some in the alternative right want to promote? How could that be the case when black people were yearning and fighting for equal opportunity, one of those "white virtues" that racial realists believe blacks would never ensure if the "white race" wasn't around.

(3) Lastly, from what I have researched racial realists usually bring up statistics such as this one, which are used to imply that people of European heritage are more likely to have a higher IQ then those native populations like the people of Africa or Australia. So just for fun let us say it is true that the IQ of blacks is lower than that of white people and Asians, what do you plan on doing with such information? If the answer is nothing, then thank you for wasting my time. If the answer is something, then please by all means tell us what you are going to do. I don't understand why the racial realists hardly ever propose any constructive solutions. Rather they choose to focus on concepts that are not clearly defined such as "white genocide" and "white culture," then assume most white people (and/or the general public) know what they mean. Most present problems they find and use race and culture interchangeably in such a manner that frankly reminds me of pro-black BLM propaganda only replace the word black with white.

Pointless
Equally as pointless
On the other hand, what if you were a "white" person or someone of European heritage and you didn't actually care about your race? What if you didn't care about the mere fact that you were white, and didn't want to accept values like liberty, democracy, etc are exclusive to white people? Then that would make you anti-white, race-traitor, or possibly a cuckservative depending on your political affiliation.

A political/social group upset about your decision to disregard your skin color as a culture... sounds familiar doesn't it? Moving on.

The purpose of this is not to bash one group over the other, it is merely my reaction to the flamboyant "intellectual peacocking" I've witnessed recently from all sides of this "race history/culture" issue. Moreover I'm disappointed in the level of discussion from both sides of this race and culture debate. It may seem weird coming from someone such as myself, but I do sympathize with pro-blacks and white nationalists because as I view it both groups have created a correlation between race and culture, and this is a natural human flaw brought about by our own life experiences. As much as we like to ignore it, as humans it is difficult for us to move away from racial tribalism especially in an age where we make correlations due to biased information that constantly surrounds us. We have become a society that is too eager to find information that suits our own bias and too steadfast in not listening to the other side. In the same vein pro-black or pro-white separatist groups gain followers on the Internet by way of presenting "facts" such as IQ statistics which seem to favor white groups, and pro-blacks using historical "facts" involving oppression and aggression committed by "white culture." I'm not denying that both groups have some legitimate feelings based upon their own interpretation of their life experiences: one example being pro-black groups use of racial injustices such as the police killing of Eric Garner and along with their own historical interpretation of the original Constitution as a racist document. Another example being the alternative right's belief in the present white genocide or the decrease and disrespect of the white population in the future. The difference between myself and them is that I don't believe that their race inherently causes them to feel this way, it is their personality that is the true catalyst for their reactionary responses to the oppression they feel, and personality has nothing to do with race.

For clarification, I do agree with the alternative right's assertion that white straight men within Western society have been viewed as the villain by media and the government, and while many think that some within this group may be racist, from my own interaction with the alternative right I don't think most are. This group is reacting in the same manner most other racial and ethnic groups have been: lashing out in very provocative ways in order to gain attention from a world they feel no longer respects sacrifices or achievements they believe their race has made. Honestly, I find the whole reaction to be wasteful, silly, and fostering a divisive atmosphere where there needn't be, especially since you cannot choose your race, and someone of a different race can represent your values just as much, unless of course your values are "we of x race need to promote the idea of x race having different inherent values and needs that must be represented." Which is the ultimate problem I and many others have with race realism and pro-black nationalists including those in Black Lives Matter.

As a conservative Republican who doesn't fit the Republican stereotype, the alternative right along with pro-black nationalists make my job of representing and sharing American ideals to different ethnicities difficult. How can a person who isn't white believe that they can actually have the same opportunities in the United States if they are being told that only white people can be responsible for ensuring western values by both pro-black separatists and some in the alternative right? On that note how is saying that your race is the only race capable of ensuring a democracy, not be considered racist? Racism is the belief that a specific race possesses abilities specific to that race (be them negative or positive). Is this not thereby promoting learned helplessness? Are they promoting the very thing we on the Right accuse Democrats of doing to gain votes and make people feel like perpetual victims?

Would the alt. right address widespread BLM campus protests?
Now you can imagine who is going to have to clean this mess up, and here's a hint it's not going to be the alternative right or pro-blacks or even the diversity enthusiasts within the progressive left. It's going to have to be people like me. You know, the worker bees who also has to clean up liberal problems with illiberal college universities. A conservative libertarian who actually wants to propose solutions for issues like college racial discrimination and intellectual discrimination, free speech zones/restrictions, inner city crime, overzealous drug laws, voter fraud, and illegal immigration.

Nevertheless, after all of these questions and comparisons one question remains: are we as a society moving beyond race? Can we move beyond petty racial tribalism and actually have an honest conversation about culture and how someone of a different culture can assimilate to Western society,  or if they should do it at all? Furthermore does the term "white culture" actually help "white people" within Western society or does it do precisely what some in the alternative right detest: create another group that will lobby the government in order to obtain special privileges based on nothing but skin color? Am I the only one who laughs at how ironic this sounds?

Overall, I love the United States. I believe the virtues and values promoted within my nation are exceptional. Oddly enough I didn't have to be white to say that.

"The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous."
-Frederick Douglass