Friday, May 30, 2008

avoid the topic of race, especially whiteness

According to the hit counter at the very bottom of this page, this blog's readership is growing. Especially in the last couple of days. Recently the counter has been showing about five hundred page views per day, but that jumped to a couple of thousand in the past day or so.

A look through the counter's statistics reveals that the jump was mostly caused by the positive mention of this site by a reader in a discussion thread at another, very popular site, Jezebel, a fun and useful site that covers “Celebrity, Sex, [and] Fashion. Without Airbrushing.” I think it was a reader there named Sarah MC who first mentioned my blog (thanks, Sarah!), and then kept praising it throughout the 500-comment-long thread. Other readers then reported coming here to Stuff White People Do, or having seen it, and from what I could tell, black readers said they like it, and white readers mostly said, "Uh, thanks but no thanks."

I've been wondering who my readers are, and from the comments and emails I get, it looks like most of the regular and enthusiastic ones are not white people. Which is great, I welcome all readers, of course. But I also wonder--if the vast majority of Internet users in America are white, why is it that the majority of the enthusiastic readers of a blog on whiteness are not white?

I think it’s because white people will occasionally discuss non-white people, especially among themselves, but they’re not used to talking or thinking about whiteness. And when they are asked to think or talk about it seriously, doing so makes them feel attacked, guilty, confused, or angry. And so they turn away—“Thanks, but no thanks.”

Several readers at Jezebel confused this blog with Stuff White People Like, and that’s my fault for choosing such a similar name. I initially meant to refer to that blog with this one in a sort of corrective way, because that one trivializes serious racial problems—a lot of white people read it, but I doubt they’re being led by it to think about whiteness in more productive ways.

One Jezebel reader, apparently white, wrote in that comment thread about my blog, "I appreciate the point of this blog but find it's [sic] tone a tad 'White people should hate themselves just for being white' for my taste."

Comments like that remind me of a reader who used to comment here a lot, a white man who blogs under the name of Sagacious Hillbilly. I had a lot of respect for SH (as I called him), because although this blog made him uncomfortable, he kept coming back—for awhile, at least. He also said he's had extensive, long-term relationships with black and Indian friends, and it sounds like he’s done some racial justice work. If his blog is any indication, he also supports Barack Obama, though not necessarily because he’s black.

Sagacious Hillbilly also put me on his blog roll. However, instead of listing this blog with its correct title, he wrote, “Silly Whitey.”

At one point, when I put together one of my more abstract posts about the whole concept itself of whiteness, and about its ultimate emptiness AS a concept, SH announced in the comments that he’d had enough:


When you started this blog, you addressed some real issues. [They] were blatant and obvious. Sadly, you have become reduced to simply taking low level pot shots at stereotypes and other ridiculous exagerations.

Your self hared has really become absurd.

I'm done with this racist display of self loathing.

Wallow in it with your pitiful and equally self hating pseudo intellectual friends.

I haven’t heard from SH since. My blog is still on his blog roll, though he’s added some words to it—“Silly Whitey—a study in self loathing and hatred.”

I think SH's response to this blog is a pretty common one from white folks who encounter it. I’m glad that a lot of people of color and some white people are reading Stuff White People Do regularly, and I appreciate the positive interaction.

I’m left to wonder, though, what is it about my blog that provokes such common white responses? Should I make it more obvious that I don’t hate myself and other white people, and that I’m instead talking about whiteness, and how people are trained to be white, and how that causes all sorts of problems for both white and non-white people?

The problem I’m seeing isn’t surprising, since white people don’t like to talk about race, especially out in the open, and they especially don’t like to talk about whiteness, whether out in the open or in private. But I’m wondering, is it worthwhile to search for ways to attract more white folks? If so, what would it take to do that?


  1. Hi Macon! I can't believe I'm reading about myself on your blog! I just discovered it a couple days ago, via a link on Racialicious. I think it's really wonderful, and I appreciate the academic flavor of your writing.
    Keep it up!

  2. p.s. I'm a white woman.

  3. I'm a white woman, and I greatly enjoy your blog. Yes, it often makes me uncomfortably self-aware of my race and privilege -- but that's the point! It always makes me think, and while I sometimes disagree with individual points you make in your posts, I'm not sure you've made any posts about a topic that I don't understand and recognize. I have also enjoyed your book recommendations and movie analysis.
    In short, keep it up!!!

  4. I'm a lurker who has only commented once before to ask a question. I'm a white woman, and I'm not ashamed of being white for pigment's sake. But I love your blog because it is a constant reminder of the privilege I get from society's view of white people.

    If I were to have constructive criticism of your writing, I would say that you do speak in generalities a lot. Minorities and white advocates of minorities are always proclaiming that you can't stereotype minorities or lump them all together. I think that same concept should be given to white people. You do tend to portray white people as a whole as awful, so I have to look past that a lot. Perhaps once in awhile you could feature something good about white people or a specific white person? Something that shows that there are white people that care about and take active steps towards racial justice?

  5. I am black and I read your blog. I must say that sometimes I have actually wondered if you were really white because I have never met anyone white who has analyzed whiteness to the degree you have.

    However, I think your whiteness (or lack of familiarity) has shown itself when someone presents something very familiar to blacks and you don't seem to process it as many blacks would e.g. Dr. Welsing.

    Keep doing what you do.

  6. "Sadly, you have become reduced to simply taking low level pot shots at stereotypes and other ridiculous exagerations."

    Come on Macon, you're obviously an educated person. Read above.
    OK, have you ever seen the Uncle Ruckus character in "Boondocks?" You're the white version of Uncle Ruckus.
    White people have some serious social problems that have lead to the oppression and ungodly and horrid treatment of people of color. We are guilty as charged, but when you reduce it to crass stereotypes. . . when you claim that white people have no culture of their own. . . when you lay these claims like a blanket across white America. . . yea, white people are going to reject it on many levels.
    As one with a good background in post-colonial theory, always a strong advocate for minority rights and always willing to own and point out the defects of the white dominant culture, this is how I see your posts.

  7. Macon,

    Your blog has even opened my eyes, which I have shared this site to many of my white friends who also the topics you've brought up. Please, oh please keep going. This subject, which a good friend of mine writes about frequently, he also had more critics than supporters. My friend, once worked for a College Newspaper in Idaho, which he wrote about topics related to race relations, pay-wages, racism, homophobia, etc. One subject he wrote about was about White Priviledge. He received a lot of personal attacks instead of having those responding to the topic, which he brought up. However, most of his supporters were non-whites.

    In short, I recommend that you keep writing. You should probably consider that there are many who read your blogs, but they are too afraid to respond and most are probably internalizing the topics in their own way. Let's hope that they can bring their feelings out.

  8. I think White people get irritated by the topic of whiteness because they don't pay the price. People generally don't care unless it hurts them.

  9. Another thing white people do is bring up Africa when we complain about our treatment. They always say American blacks have the highest standard of living in the world.

  10. I'm white. I read your blog and find it throught-provoking and useful.

    It’s frustrating to try and take the discussion beyond the screen and into my daily interaction with white friends because there is a tendency to become defensive (I do it, too), but that’s something I expect while doing the difficult task of holding up a mirror and really looking at some of the issues you've described.

  11. I found you through Jezebel and you are now on my very short list of bookmarked sites. I have spent a couple of hours reading your posts. You are an illuminating writer and admittedly I would not give your blog the time of day if you substituted a stream-of-consciousness rant for insightful analysis. Reading your posts is oddly refreshing. You really seem to try to cut the crap and get right to the (often ugly) truth.

    I am white and perceived as such 99% of the time. This blog is not only a great resource for introspection about my whiteness but also provides insight into the forces that encouraged me to "act more white" as my socioeconomic status has evolved. I grew up working poor/working class in a town with a population that was about equally white and black. I am a first-gen college grad and soon-to-be Ph.D. living in a more "progressive" city that is also less racially diverse and more segregated. Getting from Point A to Point B has been in many ways an exercise in white upper-middle class socialization, going from "default white" (with all the privileges afforded by my skin color, cultural norms, etc.) to full-fledged, card-carrying, VIP-level White Person, largely in the service of my own social mobility. I realized not too long ago that my racism is probably more insidious now that I am part of the white "thinking class" and this troubles me deeply. I would love hearing your thoughts on the intersection of whiteness and class as I think it is really key to understanding poor and working-class expressions of racism as compared to the racism of those with greater privilege.

  12. i just found this blog, and i think it's good work. (it's also coincidental because i was just blogging a minute ago about the gnarly work it is for white people to make ourselves address race.) we whites need to get a freaking backbone and deal with the fact that we are the recipients of advantage, in many seemingly invisible ways, of a legacy of white domination and all of the nasty stuff that comes with that. the problem is that many people, of all races, are inherently selfish. white folk don't want to give up our advantage because we are more invested in our personal selfishness than in doing what is good for everyone. the attacks you are seeing are from white people who are clinging selfishly to their social/economic/political advantages -- and clinging to it all costs with any method they/we can find (including massive voluntary ignorance).

  13. It'd be unfortunate if the vast majority of this blog's readership is non-white. Because it's white people who really *need* to read (or hear) this stuff.

    I came to anti-racism via feminism. I know how I feel when men get defensive about the phrase "male privilege," or deny the existance of sexism, or demand that any and all discussions take place on their "objective" terms. So maybe it's easier for me to put my defensiveness aside, LISTEN to POCs, and examine my white privilege.
    I never get the feeling that I'm supposed to "hate myself for being white." That's ludicrous. As are requests that we devote equal time to stroking whites' egos or applauding those who are not maliciously racist. Like whites don't get enough positive attention everywhere else.

    Yes, it's HARD to come to terms with the fact that you have unearned privilege. That's no excuse not to do it. I'm sure it's a hell of a lot harder to be without that privilege in the first place.

  14. Oops, sorry sarahmc, I'm not sure how I got the impression that you weren't a white woman. Regrets. BTW, you've probably seen the parallels Peggy McIntosh makes between whiteness and masculinity, in her article on white privilege?

    Thanks for stopping by, SH, and waving the same old flag you always used to wave. You serve so well as a certain kind of example. I hope you're still enjoying your "white culture," whatever that is.

    I'm on the road this weekend so right now I can't answer the questions that have already come up in this thread, but I'll get to them soon.

    Thanks for commenting everyone! I find it very satisfying that so many people, and so many different people, find my work here useful.

    (It looks like my "recent comments" function on the front page isn't working, and on a comment-heavy day too--dang.)

  15. I'm another white person who reads this blog regularly.

    I've felt this way about most white people for almost three decades. Most of my attitude stems from growing up in crappy neighborhoods where we all had no money and race wasn't as much of a factor as it is in the suburbs. We didn't get along a lot of time, but we had a lot in common too. My family is also very mixed, so I learned a lot from my non-white relatives and in-laws.

    I've forwarded this blog to my white and non-white friends, mostly to my white friends because my non-white friends aren't surprised by the topics presented. So far, of my white friends, only my wife continues to read this blog. I've also been bitched at and yelled at by some of my white friends for sending this URL to them.

    Even with my background, I'm still guilty of some of the behaviors about which you've written. I'm working on it though.

  16. i fully understand what sarahmc says about "stroking the ego" of white people by pointing out positive things of white people. but yet, consider this... when someone does something (let's assume it's amoral, such as practice the piano)consistently wrong, you would point it out. however, once they finally get it right, wouldn't you point that out too? or when a child grows, don't you point out a good behavior to affirm that and say, "hey! i noticed that! i appreciate that! that's the kind of behavior i want to see more of!"

    this is not to say that white people are like children, however, if you only point out any negative *qualities* in white people, it becomes depressing. i believe this is *different* than coming to terms with white privilege. because again, i believe that you canNOT make blanket statements about while people as a whole. if making blanket statements about black people is seen as offensive, well, it should be the same the other way around.

    i love this blog and read it almost daily and i learn many things from it. i'm very appreciative of it. however, i do believe that it can have a tendency (even without intention) to portray all white people as awful, ignorant, passive, or downright racist. and i believe that is simply not the case. but to continually paint such a picture does tend to make things feel a little hopeless.

    if there is bad in something, don't hide it. but if there is good in something, then it deserves to be seen too.

  17. I think an Obama presidency will increase white denial, "heck we elected one of them to be president of this great country, there's no racism anymore."

  18. Of course if he does a good job suddenly most whites will suddenly start talking about his white mother. ;o) I think whites seeing whiteness is very selective.

  19. I'm not sure how I found this site. It was a few weeks go after a whole bunch of "stuff {insert human type here} people do/say/think" flooded the web and I was a little dubious at first.

    Fortunately I found some real provoking analysis that consistently get lost (or denied) among white folks (and I add myself to that mix). (Now I check daily)

    These topics are very uncomfortable and we need to take our protective goggles off and take a serious look how pervasive white dominance is promoted in all aspects of our society.

    Theres is no critical analysis of white privilege in our "culture". ZERO! None zip nada. And this society (US of A) has a LOT to answer for. (I can only speak as a citizen of the empire).

    If we keep worrying about how people are going to react to uncomfortable subjects, then how will we ever expect to move towards a real understanding of these issues? How will we ever get over the inherent racisms that every white person carries with them everyday?

    This is a complex subject to be sure. By no means can anyone expect to offer full clarity and understanding with a few clicks of a keyboard. BUT If we can get a little closer then where's the harm?

    As someone who comes from the privileged class (male white blond hair blue eyes) I'm gotten more inclined to listen to the analysis of those who are most directly affected by the racism in our culture. (and often silenced because of it.)

    Remember the detractors will try to diminish your efforts. Keep the faith and know that some supporters don't always have the courage to speak up. "once bitten - twice shy" as the saying goes.

    Be strong and keep up the good work, you're not alone!

  20. Kellydiane, it's funny because I was impressed by how *fair* Macon is towards white people in his writing. He never implies or states outright that all white people have nefarious or malicious intent; he acknowledges the enormous role our racist society has in forming our identities as "whites" in relation to "everyone else." He places almost all the emphasis on nurture rather than nature. There is nothing inherently bad about being white. I think Macon makes that clear.

  21. Macon, I'd also be interested in your thoughts about annie's questions about whiteness and class.

    I think some of us "poor white trash" who went to college, and now work with grew-up-sheltered whites, are often more frustrated with the situation than other white people. We had no money, but we still had some privileges that our friends and neighbors didn't have. Even though I was as broke as my friends, I've always known that all I have to do is dress better and my white maleness gets me in the door anywhere. When I see my friends have to act like middle- or upper-class whites, and work twice as hard to get half as much, I get pissed off.

  22. Hey sarah, thanks for the link, and it is a good play on stuffwhitepeoplelike. I like puns. Maybe that blogger should do a post on 'bad puns white people make'.

    I found the posts thoughtful, not full of hate, and if they suffered from anything, it'd be the implied assumption that only white people do these things. When everyone has their fair share of issues, but this is white focused, so hey, go with it.

    SH, I would've thought stuffwhitepeoplelike would be the White Uncle Rukus. This blog is more like the 'grandpa' character, who thought about it all, and did next to nothing while remaining the same. Just talking about it a lot.

    Also, Sarah, Macon, I definitely thought after reading some of your posts that neither of you were white, but then I kept reading, and then read the 'about me'. I have a friend who used to write "" and everyone assumed he was white and tore into his racist themes, but he's a black homosexual. I think it's actually a great thing to use the internet to understand our prejudices and figure out how to live with them. And live with surprise as well.

    People are people.

  23. I must disagree with SH, Macon, you are NOTHING like "Uncle Ruckus" not even close. Uncle Ruckus has an extreme delusional self hate for blackness and an equally extreme veneration for whiteness...You're not doing anything like that.

    However, I disagree with your take on "stuff white people like". That blog actually seems VERY aware to me and is actually illustrating things are "white" north american culture.

    I'm an African-American woman and I really love your blog. As someone before me said, it's quite something to see someone white analyzing whiteness and what it means in this culture. You bring up things I've not thought about and always go into such depth I'm amazed you find time to write it all down.

    Also, as it was said before me, Keep up the good work!

  24. I'm a white (trans) guy.

    I've only just discovered this blog.

    I'm trying to educate myself about race and white privilege - I suppose it stems from other guys having no idea how females are/have historically been treated, cis people having no idea how trans people are treated...

    Therefore, I wondered, what might I not be aware of?

    I mean, I called out blatant racism, because I noticed it... but considered myself colourblind, etc. etc.

    This kind of resource is valuable for my kind of person :-D

    Also, the quality of your writing is exceptional.

    I just read the rest of the comments, and quite a few other white people have the same sentiments. We're here. We're reading.

  25. Macon,

    You're doing good work here. As one heretical white guy to another, all I can say is don't sweat it too much if white people are less receptive to your opinions than non-white people are. As you've correctly noted, it goes to our general discomfort with admitting the nature and extent of the cultural legacy to which all of us are connected, voluntarily or not.

    Don't worry about comfort or discomfort among your readers. Just speak the truth. All else will happen as it should.

  26. I am a South Asian lurker. A lot of what you say I don't agree with but I read your blog because it is interesting and challanging unlike much of what else is out there.

  27. But I’m wondering, is it worthwhile to search for ways to attract more white folks? If so, what would it take to do that?

    I had a similar conundrum when I was starting my blog. Since most of my posts are women-related and often race-related because I'm a black lady, I wondered if I should write more generic posts so that I wouldn't run off my larger audience. Then I said, no. Almost every aspect of mainstream media is target to white males, even stuff that's supposed to be neutral. Like the news. So I made a conscious decision to always write about what I wanted to write about, regardless of who (white males) I might alienate.

    Subsequently my biggest fans have remained women, strangely enough of the white persuasion. So yay for me? btw, I do have one frequent white male commenter who...well, let's just say, he could learn a lot from reading this blog.

  28. Hey there.

    You already know all about me. ;) I think you commented on my blog first and that's how I came here.

    You also already know how I feel about your writing because if I've had a dispute, I've usually called you out on it.

    So keep doin' what you do, of course. Keep it constructive. And think a bit more about the intersection of racism and sexism.

  29. Most "white folks" are too scared to come out and say what they feel about race for fear of being handed their ass. One step out of the comfy white land of forced "colorblindness" and you never forget.

    BTW I'm the one who wrote the comment about your blog being a tad "white people should hate themselves just for being white" for my taste. Which I still believe. Never said I wouldn't keep reading it. Never said I didn't like it. Never said I couldn't learn things from it. I've always found the things that reward you the most in life don't come to covered in daisies and tasting like Sweet Tarts. If people want to make assumptions based on a twelve word comment it's their choice. Just don't make fun of me for the misspelling "its". That would be too much.

  30. I'm a white person who reads this on occasion and I have to say I mostly like it, I certainly don't see it as a vehicle for white self loathing and I also think there are other white folks who share these politics but perhaps they're also reading other stuff, like blogs that focus on intersections [with disability, queer issues etc]. If anything I often worry about white men's blogs about whiteness because they run the risk of adopting manarchist bad behavior [like talking about white feminism/GLBT failures without really thinking about the fact that there's a difference between their place to challenge it and that of women/queers of color]. The other thing is that in generalizing with reference to white people as an unclassed group you miss a few points in the process. White people do not all trust the police, for example, and in ignoring those of us white folk who don't trust cops because we're poor/queer/transgendered/had our rape case bungled/ etc, you erase our presence...
    Overall I'll continue to read because I'm still a fan of this branch of race analysis and I want to play a part in strengthening it, and your blog has the same goal.

  31. "white people should hate themselves just for being white"

    Hate the sin and not the sinner.

  32. Hi tabetha, please don't take my quoting of your comment personally. Notice that in the post, I said nothing about you in particular; I only commented on the content of your comment. And I didn't point out the misspelling to make fun of you--doing that is more of a habit, that standard way of saying, "I know that this part of what I'm quoting is technically wrong, but that's the way it appeared in the original." I realize, though, that using [sic] can come across as snide or snarky.

    I'm glad you find the blog useful, and I hope I've explained well enough, as have others in this thread, that I really don't think white people should hate themselves just for being white. I do think they should wake up, though, to what being trained into whiteness has done to them. And maybe then hate themselves if they refuse to do that? Nah, even then I wouldn't say "hate yourself." Hate what you've been trained to do, and not do.

    As anonymous just said here, hate the sin and not the sinner.

    (Ha! I've never heard it put that way before. It could be taken two ways--as sincere, or as an ironic comment against this blog's basic message, delivered via an ironic parallel to the bigoted Christian line about alternative sexualities, as in, "If it's bigoted for Christians to say that about gays and lesbians, why is it okay to say it about white people?". . . I wonder which "anonymous" meant?)

  33. Change frightens everyone regardless of race, gender and class.

    And that's what your blog asks of a lot of people... to change their perceptions of the world and people around them.

    This is really hard for us all but
    may be harder for others because
    with this patient, intelligent, thoughtful blog, you re asking people to reconsider a lifetime of conditioning for maybe the first time in their lives.

    Some people aren't equipped for this and some are.
    Some people don't want to become equipped (e.g. G. Ferraro) and some are curious for the first time in their lives they are opening up to their minds to attempt to make sense of the world we truly inhabit.

    I say embrace the people who are are curious but continue to enlighten the ones who are fearful that the reality they've lived all their lives is bullshit.

    I will keep coming back because I'm curious.

  34. I meant it sincerely.

  35. I love your blog. It's insightful and intelligent, and often very eye-opening. As much as I enjoy reading it, I have a few suggestions.

    Previous commenters have noted the intersection of racism with sexism and homophobia. I appreciated that the Legally Blonde review you reposted noted the sexism and homophobia alongside the racism in the film. It'd be great if you could nod to these too, when relevant, because they often overlap (as in double, triple minorities) and stem from similar places. jvansteppes makes a great point about invisibility.

    I'd also love to see some more analysis into what defines "white." The "Like" blog uses the term to refer to upper-class, liberal Americans. Your blog applies it more broadly, but inconsistently. Sometimes it's Americans; sometimes its European colonialists; sometimes it's anyone who physically appears Caucasian. Some of the generalizations about white people aren't defined to the U.S., although they clearly reflect only this country, and thus come off as Americentric. Because of colonialism and globalization, all white people bear some burden of whiteness, but American whiteness (or even Anglo whiteness, to include the Commonwealth) is distinct from the whiteness of non-immigrant, non-colonialist countries. Certain comments fail to reflect this, such as the claim that white people have no culture.

    And on that note... I understand what you're saying, but it's still troubling. It affirms (American) white-normativism, as though it is possible for anyone to be culturally neutral, and as though whiteness is that neutrality, that lack of culture.

  36. Whoo-ee, Macon! This is just the kind of exchange/conversation white people usually DON'T have, with each other or with people of color. So congratulations!

    I am a white woman who has been learning to start conversations about whiteness with other white people -- with a variety of responses, for sure. I find that if I'm not defensive or attacking (i.e. righteous, smug because I am more hip about these issues, etc.) people can be open to at least taking it in. It really does help to see "whiteness" as cultural training, not who we are in the deepest sense. Your blog is a great offering. Thank you.

  37. i identify as a racially conscious white female. i am incredibly interested in all topics of race, gender, and sexuality. i really love your blog because it gives me hope that there are other white people out there who are always critical of the racism in our world.


  38. You're lucky that you're white and writing about whiteness. You're accused of being only a self-hating white.

    When people of colour talk about whiteness and white people, they are accused of being racists who "hate whitey" and blame white people for their personal failures. PoC who do this are mostly ignored because white people perceive "reverse racism" to be prevalent, and making "generalizations" about white people is perceived to be due to the PoC being uneducated about what racism is.

    There are so many people of colour who criticize whiteness and white people, while there are few white people who do the same. Hence, if a white person does it, then other whites become intrigued and think that there may be something more to it than blaming others for personal failures.

  39. Yes restructure, ain't that a shame? I attribute those problems to what I often point out on this blog: the general white perception of themselves and other whites as free-floating individuals, and thus as objective observers of race, and of non-whites as members of supposedly homogeneous racial groups, and thus as subjective, biased, complaining, etc. observers of race. When I talk to whites about whiteness, I often include this point, as well as acknowledging that so much of what I now know about whiteness and how it works has long been known already by non-white people--whites in general just haven't been willing to hear it from a non-white source.

    I also take what you're pointing out in terms of the concerns I expressed in this post about who's reading this blog. From the looks of these comments, a lot more white folks are doing so than I'd realized! And maybe some are more likely to do so because of what you're pointing out--how relatively intriguing it is for them to hear a white person say such things.

  40. "Thanks for stopping by, SH, and waving the same old flag you always used to wave. You serve so well as a certain kind of example. I hope you're still enjoying your "white culture," whatever that is."

    What example is that Macon? I'm always interested iin the examples I serve.

    You see Macon, you want to make all these broad claims about white people and what they do. Most of which are very valid and true to some large extent or another, but then you claim that white people have no culture. That cancels out all your credibility.

    If you are so devoid of good will toward your own people that you are incapable of recognizing the culture of your own people, then how is it possible that you can objectively comment on their negative character?

    "Reader" above makes the point: "as though it is possible for anyone to be culturally neutral, and as though whiteness is that neutrality, that lack of culture."

    Now come on Macon, discuss, don't dismiss or are you simply here for praise and accolades?

  41. so you're not the white uncle ruckus, that's for sure.

    i notice a few commenters saying that you're doing good work, trying to create more understanding between white folks and POC.

    the thing i've always liked about your blog though, is that i don't feel you're trying to tell anyone to change anything about themselves. you bring up a lot of tendencies toward obliviousness (that comes with privilege) that many or most white americans have, and you don't tell people to change. we all know white people don't have to change if they don't want to, nothing is forcing them to.

    but it's clear you're challenging yourself to change.

    i think it's a really "white" thing to assume you set the example for others to follow. i'm glad you don't do that.

  42. > But I’m wondering, is it worthwhile to search for ways to attract more white folks? If so, what would it take to do that?

    Post a link on stormfront? There you will get the attention of many white people I guess.
    If this isn't an option for you: Be humble, be patient and don't believe that you know more than your readers.
    Continue your work and let time be the judge

  43. "Now come on" SH, please absorb and understand what I've said many times before. I'm full of good will toward my people, and of sympathy for what being trained as white has done to them (because it's also been done to me).

    I never said that white American people don't have culture--there's a difference you refuse to grasp or acknowledge between saying that and saying "there is no such thing as simply 'white culture.'" People classified as "white" obviously have many cultures: Southern isolationist, middle-class suburban, what people used to call "the jet set," the progressive yuppie-ness that Stuff White People Like wrongly implies is simply "white people," and on and on.

    What I meant--are you listening?--is that there's no such thing as SIMPLY "white culture," without some sort of specifying adjective before that term. If you ask any white American to describe their culture, he or she can only talk about a certain kind of white culture. If you can't see that difference, after I've pointed it out to you so many times, then I don't know what else to say.

    Now, if you're willing to admit that I don't mean that whites don't have culture, would you say that I've regained my credibility? (I doubt it--I think there's more than this point of contention that bothers you about this blog).

    Have you read through the comments here, SH? If so, what do you think the white folks who like this blog are getting out of it? "Now come on," SH, pay attention, discuss, don't dismiss, or are you simply here to spout off your own negative opinion and ignore all positive ones?

  44. Gosh Macon, that seemede like a combination of back peddling and "I know you are but what am I."

    Anyways, so you do admit that there are some forms of "white culture" but you need to categorize it all.

    "Southern isolationist, middle-class suburban, what people used to call "the jet set," the progressive yuppie-ness that Stuff White People Like wrongly implies is simply "white people," and on and on. "

    I find most of the categories you cite a bit stereotypical, but OK.
    So all white culture is a matter of regional or class based criteria.

    I disagree. I believe there is a white culture that is more pervasive. Even you cite so many examples of "stuff white people do" that you claim is pervasive across the entire race. Do you think there are only negative and bad things that are pervasive across the race?

    Let's look at other racial groups. Do you think latino culture is some sort of homogenous set of practices and beliefs? Black culture? Asian culture?
    Southern culture? New England culture? Mid west culture? Cowboy culture?

    See, it's a beautiful world out there of different people doing different things and even different people doing the same things.
    To deny a specific group their cultural heritage while disparaging the things they do widely across their world is just wrong. I wouldn't do it to any group of people.

    "White people have done wonderful things and contributed greatly to the world culture and human civilization."

    Can you say that?

    I'm not asking you to give us all a pass on the horrible mayhem, plunder and inhumanity we have perpetrated, just asking if you can see any truth in those words.

  45. Anyways, so you do admit that there are some forms of "white culture" but you need to categorize it all.

    Yes, and I've "admitted" that many times before. I categorize them in order to distinguish them from what I think is a non-existent, uniform, simply "white" culture. Are you still not getting that point?

    Even you cite so many examples of "stuff white people do" that you claim is pervasive across the entire race.

    Nope, I've said many times that I'm talking about "common white tendencies," not stuff that's pervasive across the entire race. See this post for a fuller explanation of why I don't qualify my statements as stuff "some" white people do every single time I describe one of these tendencies. (The rest of that post would also be a good read for others who've commented in this thread about the supposedly uniform negativity toward white people of this blog--that post is, to the contrary, a celebration of what I consider white heroism.)

    Do you think latino culture is some sort of homogenous set of practices and beliefs? Black culture? Asian culture?
    Southern culture? New England culture? Mid west culture? Cowboy culture?

    Not homogeneous, no. But certainly more perceivable as distinct cultures than simply "white" culture is.

    To deny a specific group their cultural heritage while disparaging the things they do widely across their world is just wrong. I wouldn't do it to any group of people.

    Can you see now that I wouldn't either?

    "White people have done wonderful things and contributed greatly to the world culture and human civilization."

    The world culture? What's that?

    Yes, of course white people have done wonderful things. Who would deny that? Where on this blog have I denied that? White people say such things about other white folks all the time--why should I spend time on this blog doing the same?

    I have a question for you--now that I'm gaining credibility in your terms, are you going to replace the inaccurate description of this blog that's on the front page of yours with this blog's actual name?

  46. >I categorize them in order to distinguish them from what I think is a non-existent, uniform, simply "white" culture. Are you still not getting that point?

    There is a certain uniform white culture, it's called Eurocentrism and you will find this way to see the world throughout every white people or nation, regardless where on earth these white people live.
    Eurocentrism does have certain things in common, also religion (Christianity), a common sense of a feeling of entitlement to dominate, individualism, othering etc.

  47. thanks jw, i'll have to think about that--very interesting! i've always thought of eurocentrism as a perspective, a set of embedded presumptions, not as a "culture," but maybe it is a culture. . . at any rate, the manifestations you accurately describe do not strike me as things people (be they white or not) would normally describe as examples of "white culture," nor even as "culture."

    What is your working definition of culture? How closely does "Eurocentrism" fit that definition?

  48. Macon, you might be interested in reading this:

    this is not only true for the USA but globally

  49. Where does Macon D talk about white people having no culture?

    I think it's Eurocentric to think that white people have no culture. White culture in white society is considered 'neutral', 'normal', and 'objective' while non-whites are the 'ethnics'.

    White people don't think they have culture, because having no 13th floor is so prevalent that it's almost invisible, while having no 4th floor in some Asian countries is considered superstitious and cultural.

    There is an implicit white culture, since white people think there is such a thing as "Asian culture", "Black culture". White culture is "not Asian culture", "not black culture", etc. White culture is defined implicitly by contrasting with and othering non-white cultures.

  50. Hey Macon,

    I was just being cheeky about the spelling error and trying to lighten the mood. ;)

    I understand why you quoted that particular comment and don't take your comments personally. Unfortunately I have gotten more than a few ignorant and nasty emails regarding it which made me consider retreating entirely.

    It's impossible to know the "correct" amount of pride a white person is allowed to have in being white or how to "properly" address questions of race. I am a white woman who grew up in the Midwest. People automatically assume I am ignorant, racist and can milk a cow. Whenever I hear "Gosh you are so much more well spoken than I would have expected",I take a second, multiply my irritation by 10 and imagine what it must be like when the same thing is said to a person of color. I commend every person who has had that said to them in regards to their race and has not flipped out at the person saying.
    I will wholeheartedly admit that talking about "whiteness" makes me cringe. I am incredibly proud of my European and Native American background. I come from a long line of people who have been stomped on and risen above the stereotypes dumped on them. It can't compare to the African American struggle and I would never assume I "understand" it. But, as I get older I try, in earnest, to do the best I can without being one of those "I have black friends so I CAN'T be racist" people that peeve me off.
    Maybe blogs like this can help ALL of us to discuss these issues a little more openly and supportively. Helping each other understand is the only way to come together and break down some of the walls.

  51. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink, whites who want to remain in denial will do so no matter how logical your arguments are. Whites receptive to your arguments will read.

  52. In regards to JW's comment "Eurocentrism does have certain things in common, also religion (Christianity), a common sense of a feeling of entitlement to dominate, individualism, othering etc."

    I've never understood this, perhaps because I come from a long line of poor, white, blue collar workin' folk. Also, it's been ingrained in me that I come from people who fought (and still fight) to KEEP their homes and culture not to take someone else's.

    Anyone else have these feelings? I admit I have prejudice I work hard to overcome against the privileged white class. Is judging someone based on their class in the same boat as judging by their race?

  53. Tabetha:

    In regards to JW's comment "Eurocentrism does have certain things in common, also religion (Christianity), a common sense of a feeling of entitlement to dominate, individualism, othering etc."

    I've never understood this, perhaps because I come from a long line of poor, white, blue collar workin' folk. Also, it's been ingrained in me that I come from people who fought (and still fight) to KEEP their homes and culture not to take someone else's.

    I don't know about you as an individual, but many "working-class white" folk believe that (e.g. "Mexican" in the United States, "Asian" in the UK) immigrants are taking away "their" jobs. This is a sense of entitlement, to assume that you have a right to the job and others do not have the right because of their ethnic origin. This is othering, because it creates a distinction between "white working class" and the other, instead of thinking of both whites and non-whites as all "working class" since they are all doing the same job.

  54. Macon, I have the same issues that you do with the site Stuff White People Like. That said, however, I believe SWPL does a good job of describing just what "white culture" is. Of course, the site is only focusing on a portion of white culture--educated, liberal, middle-class, etc.

  55. Macon D,

    Thanks so much for this site. As a white woman and an anti-racist, I try to explore and think about sites dealing with whiteness.

    When I first looked over yours, I was a little concerned because your approach seems kind of negative. But I posted about my concerns in the discussion over at White Anti-Racist (one of my favorite sites) and the whiteantiracist team over there explained why your approach is, to use their word, so brilliant.

    Now, I feel totally okay with what you are doing. Keep up the great work!

    Jannie Sue

  56. I've always felt that discussions around white privilege take too much of an academic nature. It's hard to make it real for people.

    Whenever I write about it, I usually write from an academic topic connected to a real experience I've personally had.

    It's a way to escape generalities and how can someone fault you speaking from personal experience. I think it's a much more powerful affect.

    To become committed to understanding white privilege and how it plays into your life, white people need to be naively optimistic and unaware of the consequences. Almost kind of tricked.

    I'm not advocating lying to people, just the person can't know exactly what they are getting into otherwise, they'll run right out the door.

    Who would adopt a courtesy stigma knowingly?

    This doesn't address how do you get more white people to read your blog. Your current readers need to recruit other readers.

    I wonder how many white readers actually forward this blog onto people they actually know? We all know it doesn't take much to pass a Web site along.

    (Yay, my first comment!)

  57. This is my first comment. I catch up on your blog about twice a week.

    I'm a white male. I was referred to this site by a good friend who is a white female. She was always the person I went to when I needed to understand social/political discoveries I was having as I've become more aware, more alive.

    It took a bit for me to understand the concept of white as an institution. Anti-whiteness isn't anti-white. It was a hard concept for me to understand. However, once I was able to understand being white vs my whiteness, doors opened, one of them being your site, and the ability to understand your intentions, your voice, and the extent of whiteness as a whole.

    Now I see whiteness everywhere.

    I've felt for a long time that white people don't have a culture. Moving from Colorado to Harlem exemplified that (not to mention made me overly aware of the grossly misrepresented white concept of what Harlem is, who lives there, what happens...I still get the "is it scary living in Harlem?" question). However reading comments, many white people are upset at the hint that there's not a white culture. We don't have a food. There's Indian food, Chinese food, Mexican food, Italian food, Ethiopian food, but no American food. American food comes from taking bits and pieces of other cultures. Anything someone could try to argue is an American food, it's most certainly a perversion of another culture. Culture isn't food, but food is a subset of a culture. It's not that white people don't have a culture because they don't have a food, but they don't have a food, because there isn't a white culture.

    To make up for it, it seems like white people take on classifications as a culture. They're usually socioeconomic classifications (like you even stated in your response to SH's comment), but you have to ask yourself if that's really a culture?

    Perhaps this is how I grew up. I'm part German, part Polish, even a wee tad little bit Blackfeet Indian, however I don't identify as any of them, I don't identify with their culture, but I do have to admit I like sauerkraut. I grew up just being white, and having whiteness instilled in me. Whiteness was my culture (hey! perhaps that's the white culture: whiteness). It wasn't until my late teens when I came out of the closet that I truly began to understand what it meant to be a part of a culture. Cultures have causes, politics, histories, celebrations, activities, unifications, and foods (tho, there's not really a gay food, unless Pinkberry counts?).

    There seems to be a number of white people who read your blog. Many of them came from middle to lower socioeconomic classes and have made something of themselves. Previously poor white people read your blog, they understand it, they don't seem to judge. Perhaps you should see how you can expand upon getting the previously well-off, currently well-off white people to read your blog. They probably wield their whiteness stronger than anyone, as even those previously poor or currently poor white people feel the wrath of it!

    I read a comment that reminded me of a popular argument. Someone asked why you don't write any entries about what white people do right. To that, I say you spend so many years in history classes, reading history books, honoring presidents past. America has positioned itself to where you're always being told what white people do right. It's perhaps whiteness itself that needs some sort of vindication amidst this exposition. It's the same argument for Black History Month: we spend 28 days honoring the contributions of African Americans to American life, and spend 337 days honoring what white people did.

    Don't change, keep exposing whitness deeper than ever before.

    I hope to continue to learn from you for quite a long time!

  58. Macon, I'm a white woman and have been reading your blog (and checking daily for updates) for a while now. I am a big fan. Your writing is fantastic and you communicate your points very clearly, at least from where I stand, and it makes it valuable for me to read your blog not to just to come away from it to do my own thinking, but also as a way to learn how to better articulate how I feel. I agree with nearly everything you've said on your blog so far, but it's frustrating to be a white person from the north who grew up in the 80s and 90s, who like many others from my age group and demographic, were raised with a distinct lack of words with which to talk about ourselves as white. I remember feeling like "white" was a dirty word until I got to college. I wasn't sure if it was okay to use it with myself.

    What on earth kind of world are we living in when I am afraid to and unsure of how to talk about myself as a racialized American, which is certainly how I am seen by society and within the system, which is weighted with white supremacy?

    Your post gave me a lot to think about, because most of my white family and friends will not engage in or even acknowledge conversations that address our whiteness and what it means to be white in America. It's frustrating to me to be going through what has been for me a very big and personal process of learning to see and come to terms with who I am as an American, as a person. I have often asked the same question of myself, and I don't think I have a very clear answer yet.

    However, one thing I think is true is that discussions of whiteness often get taken for discussions of actual white people. People are quick to take offense without realizing that what we are talking about is not individual people, but rather the way a system functions. And when that system gives you privilege and power that you fear you may really not deserve on your own merit, but dread losing, and when you feel like somehow that power is part of your identity in a deep way but in a way that you can never acknowledge openly (perhaps even to yourself), it is hard for people to be open to a discussion of a system which for them perhaps collapses right into who they are as individuals. Maybe on a level it is an immutable part of who some white people are, and that questioning that system threatens that very identity, and here comes the defensiveness and shouting and "stop speaking in generalizations."

    I agree with you about the emptiness of "whiteness" and the loneliness, alienation, and frustration that many whites feel at this. I used to feel this way when I was growing up too. But I can read your blog now, and writing by others on race, and realize that to say that whiteness is empty is not to say that I as a white person am empty. But I wonder if that is where the resistance and aversion to talking about whiteness begins.

  59. Oops, I just realized the last part of my comment sounded a lot like I was alleging that you're arguing that white culture, whiteness, etc., is a void. I should have said, that is how I (and others) were raised to feel about it - not in direct, explicit terms, but by the total lack of ever talking about it.

    I appreciate so much that what you're doing here is trying to put words on things that I spent most of my 27 years having no real words for.

  60. PEACE brother.
    I just stumbled upon your site and I think its freshtadeath. Im not sure if yourve heard of Adam mansbach, but he has a DOPE book called "Angry Black Whiteboy," that speaks to a ton of what youre writing about here. Here's the CRAZY part; the main character (angry black whiteboy) is named Macon Detornay (Macon D)!

    I am a Japanese/Scottish/German/Mohawk Amerikan and am thining, reading, writing about race and ethnicity all the time.

    I appreciate that you are attempting to activiely work at being an ally to people of color by addressing the issue of "whiteness," and noticing that this concept is empty and oppressive, but not necesarrily the people who wear this mask.

    It seems that the kid who says you have "self-hate," issues is "calling the kettle black" (or white in this case =P). From what I gather, you are talking about "whiteness," being oppressive but not necessaarily "white" people. His guilt seems to make it feel impossible for him to acknowledge the privilege Amerika has afforded him as a WASP male. LOL. At least ur still on his blogroll! =P

    Keep thinking/writing about race in a truly progressive way. Its not something the majority of our Anglo brothers and sisters have been able to do very well.


  61. Thanks for your comments, Senbei! Yes, I'm very familiar with Mansbach's book, and I even wrote a review of it here awhile back. Mansbach's protagonist, and his efforts, are indeed what I'm paying homage to with my nom de blog.

    I'm glad you stopped by, and I'll check out your blog soon.

  62. In regards to Restructure! comment:

    "I don't know about you as an individual, but many "working-class white" folk believe that (e.g. "Mexican" in the United States, "Asian" in the UK) immigrants are taking away "their" jobs. This is a sense of entitlement, to assume that you have a right to the job and others do not have the right because of their ethnic origin. This is othering, because it creates a distinction between "white working class" and the other, instead of thinking of both whites and non-whites as all "working class" since they are all doing the same job."

    You're spot on about that. I didn't even look at it from that perspective.

  63. I don't know where to drop this link I found a long time ago, so I'll just drop this here on this blog on this post: Critical Whiteness Studies and the Challenges of Learning to be a ‘White Ally’

  64. Millions of people are not wrong. When you conduct your life as you are taught and you see racial acts committed against whites grow increasingly by the day, don't sit there and wonder why. Look up the facts, and see how touchy feely you become. Blacks and browns hate us, but don't feel they can defeat us yet, so they play the race and injustice cards. What's it going to take before you wake up and smell the jealousy and hate? They really want to be like us, but it's not their nature. Look at their own respective countries that can't seem to be tamed. Have you ever wondered why?

  65. Hi Macon,

    I also discovered your blog via Racialicious. I am half-white, half-asian and have been morbidly fascinated with and appalled by racist lines of thinking my whole life. For me, the entire concept of "race" is strange. I am the product of an "inter-racial" marriage, and many, many other people in the world are as well. What race are we?

    What I don't understand is why people identify so much with each other based on arbitrary physical features. I am white enough to be accepted as an honorary white in most liberal white circles. I have dark eyes and hair, so non-whites accept me as well. In this position, I get to see and hear both sides of the story from as an “insider”, so to speak.

    From this perspective, I find myself frequently shocked by the stuff that slips out of my white friend's and family's mouths in my presence. Here are a few examples:

    "She is really pretty. She is blond." (blond hair = pretty) "I like red heads b/c of their pale skin." (from a white boyfriend who never made similar comments about women with other skin colors) "Why don't you get those Mexicans to come do your yard work for you." (this was from my former mother-in-law who was referring to Cuban men who were trained as engineers in Cuba, but were working as dishwashers here in the U.S. at the restaurant my husband managed)

    What amazes me is that I know these individuals consider themselves very “liberal” and not at all racially biased. Little slips like these are subtle and hard to confront people with because they are not overtly and violently racist. But, these subtle, unconscious, and ubiquitous messages in language and the media really can make a huge difference in how people perceive themselves and others.

    Thank you so much for opening a dialogue on this issue. I think it is so important for us in the U.S. to finally tackle these uncomfortable, divisive issues.

  66. Look at their own respective countries that can't seem to be tamed. Have you ever wondered why?
    How do you consider the history of countless wars in Europe and the many wars of the USA? What are your thoughts about two world wars? What do you think about dropping two atomic bombs? Have you never wondered why?

  67. "Silly Whitey—a study in self loathing and hatred."

    Rofl, Boy did he ever hit the nail on the proverbial head. I've only recently stumbled across this blog but SH's accurate reading of macon is the same conclusion I've come to after only a day of reading through some of his posts, replete with the obligatory racist comments from its mostly black readers, and the fact that macon himself refuses to post many of my comments, for whatever arbitrary reason he's come up with on that day.

    So I would venture to guess that's probably one reason why macon doesn't have too many white readers, because he insists on blocking their valid, diverse opinions out, especially the ones he doesn't agree with or feels threatened by.

  68. You know, Peppers, I really wonder what it is that keeps you reading here.

    And as I wrote to you before, I publish many comments that disagree with the posts I write, and I never refuse to publish comments because I feel "threatened," whatever that's supposed to mean.

    At any rate, do keep reading.

  69. Macon,

    Peppers is not here to learn shit. Peppers is here to troll. S/He feels s/he has absolutely nothing to learn from PoC unless we're fawning all over White people. S/He doesn't give a shit about our POV unless it syncs up with his/her view of the world.

  70. You're probably right, Witchsistah.

    What do you think keeps hir, and people like that, reading and trying to comment here?

  71. Simply to piss on our parade. Hating that there's ONE spot on the internet that is not bowing to their worldview making them question it. Nothing to do. Not having any sex and mad about it so they're gonna take it out on an internet comm. Who knows?

    Has there already been a post for "think that since they're fucking/dating/married to/partnered with a PoC they're not racist?" (probably has)

  72. Macon, as a biological male in the process of transitioning into a female, I freaking love you for knowing and using the pronoun "hir" :)


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