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April 03, 2007

White Ethnicity Redux


I realized, while I was writing the preceding post about white ethnic blogging, that I've been unconsciously supporting the whole white ethnic blogging as default blogging thing. You see, I have "asian american" as a topic category on my blog, but not "white". And guess what? I'm both Asian American and white.

But because white is default, my only "ethnicity" is Asian, right?

Well, not anymore. I've added a "white" topic category to my blog and will be tagging posts that deal specifically with my white issues or my white ethnic perspective from now on.

It'll be interesting to see if I ever use this tag. I've been thinking of myself as a person of color for so long--and been treated as such for so long--that I don't know if I can think of my perspective as white. But for years I've been saying that I'm not a new category--a multiracial--but rather both Asian and white, whole and complete in both.

That turns out to not actually be true. I'm not whole and complete in being white, and don't know if I can be. We'll see. Experiment begins ... now!


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Interesting experiment. I've been lurking here for a while... I'm a hapa (white/English + ethnic Japanese). I understand your frustration. Ten years ago I stopped explaining myself as half-Japanese, because I was supporting the idea of whiteness as an invisible standard to be deviated from, and began saying that I'm half-white and half-Japanese. I can tell that this disturbs some questioners.

I have some misgivings with the potential direction of your approach. I think white identity can be neutral or negative, but never positive. It's a racial identity, not an ethnic one... white people and multiracial people can enforce their ethnic or regional identity in a nice positive way (e.g. Irish-American, or Southern) but once they bring white identity into it and say they are proud of it, everything gets really really bad really fast.

The big problem is that if you move from depictions of bodies on to other aspects of culture, and say something is white, that tends to mean it is not black/Latino/Asian or whatever. What's quintessentially white? Golf? Tapping maple trees for syrup? Emo music? I prefer to think of things like that as belonging to a generic American standard, marked by whiteness but also with the potential to be claimed by non-white people. The stuff that's truly white-only is nasty stuff that no one should want, including other white people. So if a multiracial person starts talking about cultural participation from their white perspective, it means they are exiling their other self. That's my reason why I would never be able to look at things "from a white perspective", it would be horribly upsetting, like trying to be schizophrenic.

Misgivings aside, I totally agree that the idea of whiteness as an invisible standard needs to be attacked from as many fronts as possible. I wish I knew more tactics. Good luck developing them!

Hi Claire: I don't have anything useful to contribute to this topic. But I wanted to say "hi" anyway, instead of just passing through. Hel-looh...! [The trail of bread crumbs worked out like this: technorati search > blog post about asian american books festival > apalc.org > your name > one of your other blogs > this one]

hey debbie! glad you dropped by! nice website!

I found this blog by doing a random google search on asian american identities and was surprised to find a blog that hits the spot so accurately, when speaking of half white, half asian lifestyles.
I'm a hapa myself (half white, half japanese) and I've been dealing with identity problems as much as the next person has... but i've never fully identified myself as one or the other. At first I agreed with the arguement by other hapa's that i'm full white AND full japanese, giving me the best of both worlds, but upon investigation (investigation not being the right word, but anyway) I began to realize that i'm neither whole of both ethnicities nor half of each... but rather, just a human being.
I've had my share of accusations from both sides: not being white enough for my predominantly white town, and not being asian enough.
Its flattering and a little narcussistic to consider halfies to be their own "tribe" of people, but at the same time it makes us seem to stand out even more... it highlights to the rest of the world that we are different, and that's sometimes not such a good thing.
Anyway, the point I wanted to make was that I enjoyed reading this blog and I'm very happy to see other hapa's (of many different ethnicities) becoming more vocal because it's only been recently that we've stepped out of the shadows and let people know that racism effects hapas as well-but from both sides of their ethnicity.

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