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#1 of 54 Old 07-07-2010, 06:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I love my husband and I love being in a multicultural family. But sometimes its hard being the white one. He has this beautiful Native American heritage...and I don't have anything to compare to it in that way.

I'm a modern American white girl. Let's face it, the culture there is pretty skimpy unless you count consumerism. My European roots are from too long ago and are too mixed to find any pride in them. And the western settler culture that is the closest thing I could have to a rich heritage is marred by the whole "white people were really cruel to Native Americans (and African Americans, and others I'm sure) not too long ago" thing.

Earlier this week a friend of a friend was asking what we were going to mark on all our sons applications (for school etc) as far as race goes. I don't know why, but the question offended me. He's from both of us. Why does he have to choose one or the other. But then again, when there's a financial incentive to "be" a certain race, I guess it'd be silly not to right?

Then there's the little comments that shouldn't bother me, but do sometimes. For the 4th of July, DH said to one of his cousins "Happy White-Man's Independence Day." It made me sad but I'm not sure why.

I guess I just feel like I have nothing to give my son from my side culturally speaking and it makes me sad. I know he'll grow up saying "I'm Navajo." Does that mean he has nothing of value from my genes?

I feel so culture-less.
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#2 of 54 Old 07-07-2010, 06:08 PM
 
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Maybe you should research more about your heritage. Pick up a copy of Ethnicity and Family Therapy by McGoldrick, Giordano and Pearce. It is really interesting.

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#3 of 54 Old 07-07-2010, 06:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow that book is expensive. I can't find it in the library here either. Is there a netflix type program for books? I could really use one sometimes.

I read some of the preview online. I'd like to know what they about "White" people. Because I really don't feel like I have any culture, and it hurts.
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#4 of 54 Old 07-07-2010, 07:03 PM
 
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You have a very rich culture. You just have to learn about it. The book has numerous chapters about the characteristics of families of European origin. Maybe you can pick it up and read it in your local bookstore instead of purchasing it.


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Originally Posted by Kim B Lynn View Post
Wow that book is expensive. I can't find it in the library here either. Is there a netflix type program for books? I could really use one sometimes.

I read some of the preview online. I'd like to know what they about "White" people. Because I really don't feel like I have any culture, and it hurts.

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#5 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 01:12 AM
 
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I SO hear you. My husband's family is off-the-boat, still speaking Italian and I'm a mutt. My parents divorced when I was young. Mom's family came to the US in the late 1800s/early 1900s and has lost any semblance of heritage. My father's family came here from Wales & Italy in the early 1900s and I didn't even realize that they retained anything until I saw a friend struggle in a marriage to an Italian man in ways that I just understood because of how my father's family operated.

But I don't really "have" anything to give him. My foreign language I learned in school. I'm already to far down the line to know the "coming to America" stories. Our food is pretty much "American apple pie".

So dh has this rich, Italian heritage and culture that my kids get from his family and what's worse is that my daughter is Hispanic (adopted)... so I feel like even SHE has "something" special that I don't have to offer culturally--which is really silly because she's an infant. It's not like she grew up with culture and heritage so I have no clue why I feel that way.

I'm rambling. I get it. I've done all the research to know where my family is from. But that doesn't make our family functions full of special foods or stories or ways of doing things that are culturally acceptable.

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#6 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 01:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by *bejeweled* View Post
You have a very rich culture. You just have to learn about it. The book has numerous chapters about the characteristics of families of European origin. Maybe you can pick it up and read it in your local bookstore instead of purchasing it.
I've loved your posts, bejeweled. I don't think the issue, OP, is your heritage - it is an issue of not understanding the value of that heritage because it may not seem unique or as exotic as the stories others have to tell. But it is still quite the story! Yes, part of the story for our ancestors includes, at the very least complacency with, racism and the mistreatment of non-whites, but it would be a shame to forget the rest of the story. There is a lot of tenacity, innovation, and beauty there, too!

Do you have any older relatives you could talk to? They might have some pretty interesting stories to tell. Are there any family recipes you could make for your child? Heck, even if the closest you can come to a family recipe is some Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup casserole, that is part of our story and culture, too, right? It is easy to scoff at Campbells now, but wow - what an innovation it was! There is a reason why our mothers and grandmothers loved it so much they put it in everything. Any family heirlooms? They don't have to be worth a lot of money to help you and your child feel a connection to your past. I have a few plants in my garden that I got from my grandparents (and, realistically, have been in the family longer than that, since they aren't likely to have bought them from a garden center). They aren't anything special to look at, but it is nice knowing where they came from. Someday I hope to give a division to my grandkids for their own yards.

If you absolutely can't find a way to connect to your cultural past, I still think the Little House books and Mark Twain books for kids are a great way to introduce children to the cultural history of white Americans. Yes, they are idealized, and you'll find racism in the books, but that is part of the history, and provides a good jumping-off point for discussions.

Good luck! I hope you find a lot of good that you weren't expecting on your journey to rediscover your culture.
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#7 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 01:55 PM
 
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First, white Americans do have a culture. Unfortunately it's so "in" to discount it that many people forget about it. But we have our holiday traditions-cook outs and family get togethers on Labor Day, we go see fireworks, or shoot off our own, on 4th of July, lots and lots celebrate secular versions of Christmas, regardless of religious belief, Easter Egg hunts and dying eggs on Easter, and we get families together and eat turkey on Thanksgiving. We have a language, English. We do have foods that are considered "American." Things like cheeseburgers and hot dogs and yes, apple pie. We have a great history of invention and innovation. And we have our own symbols and such to be proud of, such as the flag, Washington DC (ie all those memorials and such), and other such places around the county.

Sure, the white US history is marred with plenty of racism and violence, but well, so are nearly ALL cultures. It is human nature to be afraid of what's different, and to clash with those who are different. Groups of people have been fighting with other groups of people over their differences since the beginning of people.

But second, I think your DH's comment, was, IMO, racist. Yes, Native Americans have been oppressed by white Americans, but if he is going to MARRY a white American than he has to accept the holidays and traditions that are a part of your culture. It's no different than if you made a disparging remark about a holiday his family celebrates.
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#8 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 03:15 PM
 
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I think if you moved, for example, to Brazil, as I have done, you would definitely see that you have a rich culture of your own. Here, I yearn for my children to experience life, holidays, education, language in the previously-taken-for-granted traditional American ways I did growing up!

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#9 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 04:16 PM
 
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You have a culture. You are an American and America has a unique culture. You just don't notice it because you have been soaking in to your whole life.
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#10 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 04:34 PM
 
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What your heritage brings is automatic inclusion in the dominant culture. Whether or not your children will benefit from that isn't necessarily so automatic, but for yourself ... you're not cultureless. You are a part of the ubiquitous culture. The one that doesn't have to be taught because exposure to it -- regardless of whether or not one is a member of it -- is a given.

I just find it sad when I hear people who don't have to do anything special to know and pass on their own histories and traditions speaking as though not needing to work at it means it's not there, and that there is something enviable about people who have to actively fight to maintain something that isn't so dominant.

I mean, honestly, do you know what I feel when I'm in a place where my visible minority status becomes a majority? Relief. Because everything that makes me and my family different-from-just-normal here evaporates. Intrinsic normalcy is a nice feeling. One that shouldn't be taken for granted. Not everyone is so lucky as to experience it.

And you know what? My kids get white Americana too. Because my visible "otherness" otherwise, that's also my heritage. And it's complicated, yeah. And ugly. And rich. And above all something that is, unlike any other heritage in the U.S., something to be participated in and grappled with whether one likes it or not.

What it is most definitely not is a void on the cultural map. Thinking so is basically white privilege defined.
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#11 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 04:51 PM
 
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Have you lived in the same area of the US all your life, or have you moved around?

I was raised in the north (PA), now living in the south (first FL, now NC). There is a distinct culture in each of these regions of the US. Chances are, you have a distinct culture to celebrate just from your part of the US.
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#12 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 04:51 PM
 
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Not liking your cultural heritage isn't the same thing as not having a cultural heritage.
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#13 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 05:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by happysmileylady View Post

But second, I think your DH's comment, was, IMO, racist. Yes, Native Americans have been oppressed by white Americans, but if he is going to MARRY a white American than he has to accept the holidays and traditions that are a part of your culture. It's no different than if you made a disparging remark about a holiday his family celebrates.


I'm sorry but saying "Happy White-Man's Independence Day" is simply not racist. It is factual. On that fine July day in 1776 a bunch of wealthy, white, landowning men set themselves free from the English crown. They did not extend that freedom to women nor to people of color. It is disparaging to the memory of the people who lived under the oppression of the founders of this country and who fought for their own equality over the past two centuries to pretend otherwise.
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#14 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 05:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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@ glendora
What should one do if they don't particularly like their cultural heritage?

@sunnmama
I've never lived outside of the four corners states. I've grown up surrounded with Native American and Latino cultures. In my highschool, we were actually the minority. It was 80% Native there.

@Liquesce
That's interesting. I actually prefer NOT to be surrounded by tons and tons of people of the same religion, age, and color as myself. It makes me feel really uneasy and superficial. Now I don't particularly enjoy being "the only one" in an otherwise homogenous group either. I prefer a good mix of culture, age, and color. And I don't really have that where I currently live. I can't wait to move.

@happysmileylady
I don't know how "in" it is to discount white American culture. But it does seem like we shouldn't be proud of it or display it because we might offend other people and look like the KKK/General Custer/Nazis all over again. I still don't really know what the white equivalent of a powwow is, but I don't know if it would go over well. I just wish we hadn't been so freakin racist. It's embarrassing.

@everyone else
I guess that makes sense. I do see some cultural elements now. I guess it just doesn't seem like they're there because my Native in-laws all take part in it just as much as I do, so it doesn't seem like it's culture specific. My family history does include the guy who "invented" (and by invented I mean contributed to the process...it wasn't any single idea or person) television...still haven't decided if that's a good thing or not.

Another thing I struggle with this is that I don't feel like I can even talk to anyone about it. The only way I feel comfortable trying to work through this is online with people who don't know me.
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#15 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 05:59 PM
 
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I'm sorry but saying "Happy White-Man's Independence Day" is simply not racist. It is factual. On that fine July day in 1776 a bunch of wealthy, white, landowning men set themselves free from the English crown. They did not extend that freedom to women nor to people of color. It is disparaging to the memory of the people who lived under the oppression of the founders of this country and who fought for their own equality over the past two centuries to pretend otherwise.
It is a national holiday that celebrates the founding of one of the greatest countries on the planet, and a place that he and his wife are citizens of. (please note, I didn't say the only great country or the single greatest, but yes, the US is, IMO, one of the greatest countries out there.) Yes, the US has a history of oppression and racisim, that's a fact. It's also a fact that so do most other countries and cultures at some point or another. The US is not the only or worst country in that aspect. We are far from unique in having been a******* at some point in history. But we can still celebrate the founding of the country and all the good things that have come out of the existance of the US, that doesn't in any way discount the existance of the negatives as well. But I think his comment does disparage the existance of the positives of the existance of the US.
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#16 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 06:19 PM
 
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@happysmileylady
I don't know how "in" it is to discount white American culture. But it does seem like we shouldn't be proud of it or display it because we might offend other people and look like the KKK/General Custer/Nazis all over again. I still don't really know what the white equivalent of a powwow is, but I don't know if it would go over well. I just wish we hadn't been so freakin racist. It's embarrassing.
Well, Nazis aren't originally part of US culture anyway, just something some folks here thought was a good idea. That particularly racist set of ideals is part of German culture. A prime example of the US not being the only culture with racism, oppression and horrific violence in it's history. Should Germans be embarrassed about their German culture and history just because it also contains the Holocaust? Should they not be proud of Oktoberfest and Saurbraten, just because the history of their country includes Nazis? It's perfectly acceptable, IMO, to be be proud of the history, traditions, language and food that are part of the place and groups you come from, without taking pride in the negative aspects.

I am not proud of the fact that the country I was born in and live in allowed slavery, I am not proud of the fact that past governments of this country forced people onto reservations. However, I am proud that my country allows me to have however many kids I want, that we have a national holiday that is dedicated to appreciation, and that our country has been such a huge part of the technical advancements of the world. And it's ok to be proud of those things while recognizing that we aren't perfect and have even been pretty crappy at times too.
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#17 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 06:45 PM
 
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It is a national holiday that celebrates the founding of one of the greatest countries on the planet, and a place that he and his wife are citizens of. (please note, I didn't say the only great country or the single greatest, but yes, the US is, IMO, one of the greatest countries out there.) Yes, the US has a history of oppression and racisim, that's a fact. It's also a fact that so do most other countries and cultures at some point or another. The US is not the only or worst country in that aspect. We are far from unique in having been a******* at some point in history. But we can still celebrate the founding of the country and all the good things that have come out of the existance of the US, that doesn't in any way discount the existance of the negatives as well. But I think his comment does disparage the existance of the positives of the existance of the US.

I don't feel like anything you just said has anything to do with what I said. I'm at a loss, so I will just post one of my favorite poems, which happens to be written on this very subject.

Quote:
Why some people be mad at me sometimes

- a poem by Lucille Clifton

they ask me to remember
but they want me to remember
their memories
and I keep on remembering mine
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#18 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 07:25 PM
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I think one can see the USA as a great country while still acknowledging that "Independence" day actually only gave freedom to a minority of Americans. They're not mutually exclusive.

I haven't been in the USA for independence day since 2007. Every year I sort of look around and realize that there won't be fire works... but really, that's ok. There are a lot more parts of my white American culture that I miss more, to be honest.

Kim, you asked what you should do if you don't like your cultural heritage... I think you should do exactly what you are doing: figure out why you don't like it, examine your beliefs about it, and then move forward and continue trying to become aware of and understand the privilege you have in the US because of your white culture, and work to understand how it affects you and also others without that privilege.

It's not bad to be white. It's good, though, to be aware of what tht whiteness is getting you.

 
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#19 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 07:31 PM
 
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You also might want to look into Why Are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, which is about the development of racial identity. It might give you some good perspective about why you have a hard time identifying your culture and what to do about that. There's a whole chapter about what you are talking about - White people not being able to identify, label, and describe their own culture.

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#20 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 07:36 PM
 
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@Liquesce
That's interesting. I actually prefer NOT to be surrounded by tons and tons of people of the same religion, age, and color as myself. It makes me feel really uneasy and superficial. Now I don't particularly enjoy being "the only one" in an otherwise homogenous group either. I prefer a good mix of culture, age, and color. And I don't really have that where I currently live. I can't wait to move.
It's not about being homogeneous. I'm not a big fan of a sum total lack of diversity either. It's about being normative ... about being in a position to not be continually conscious of being different from a certain baseline.
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#21 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 08:39 PM
 
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I'm sorry but saying "Happy White-Man's Independence Day" is simply not racist. It is factual. On that fine July day in 1776 a bunch of wealthy, white, landowning men set themselves free from the English crown. They did not extend that freedom to women nor to people of color. It is disparaging to the memory of the people who lived under the oppression of the founders of this country and who fought for their own equality over the past two centuries to pretend otherwise.


Actually they set the colonies free. The point of the document was that the British crown was oppressing the colonies as a whole, it did not say our women are still yours, our slaves are still yours. The constitution on the other hand we can talk about the rights taken away (although not agreed upon by all who were part of writing it some were against slavery.) The decision to separate from England was not an act of racists. The primary writer of the independence document was Thomas Jefferson He was quoted as saying the institution an "abominable crime," a "moral depravity," a "hideous blot," and a "fatal stain" that deformed "what nature had bestowed on us of her fairest gifts."

I can understand the confusion, many American's don't really know the difference a copy of the document can be found here http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/

And note the "all men are created equal" was written by Thomas Jefferson who like said above believed ALL MEN were created equal.

I will say however this document mentions the 'savages.' But that was the time period and ignorance, not that it makes it ok....

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#22 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 09:16 PM
 
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Kim B - I completely understand your sensibilities about your culture. I grew up white, upper middle class in an LA suburb, surrounded by the richness of other cultures, and a massive amalgamation of white consumerism slathered over the top. I feel much like you do.

So rather than engage in a philosophical debate (which is interesting, but I think not helpful to your particular situation) I will share with you the things that I love about white American heritage.

First, we did start out completely racist. Slavery - yes, it happened, and is totally horrific. Read Beloved. You can get that at a library and it's life-changing. Also read Cheyenne Autumn. Similar but about Native Americans.

So, why does my diatribe about the beauty of white America begin with references to literature about Slavery and Indian Relocation? Because that's part of our heritage too. Many people stop at the "white oppressor" label without realizing that LOTS of white people worked their asses off to free and empower the victims of white oppression. They were working from "the inside" so to speak. And today, so can you. That is your white heritage. Own it... it belongs to you.

It is a beautiful thing to be self-reflective, and white America is that and then some. It took years, and it's not done, but enormous gains have been made to eliminate slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation. Like I said, it's not fixed, but only with the work of white people who saw a problem with their society and set out to change it did that change occur. Black slaves did not free themselves. THOSE are the white people that are your heritage.

It is the definition of American to see a social problem and fix it to the best of your ability. A lot of white people saw the horrors of slavery and said "that's not right" and worked to abolish it. More white people marched in Selma and other places, staged sit-ins, etc, to make sure that desegregation occurred. Much of the power of those revolutionary movements was generated by their appeal across racial lines.

When you evaluate your white heritage, realize that it demonstrates the amazing progress of realizing that white people should NOT be superior to other races and ethnicities. Has that been the case for every white American? No, there was oppression and those people were wrong. But that's not YOUR heritage. You're in a multicultural family, for heaven's sake! America is one of the few countries where that IS acceptable. If you were married to a Nigerian man in Lagos, the situation would be SIGNIFICANTLY different.

Finally, I urge you to research class issues in America. The union movements during the progressive era have a lot for white Americans to be proud of, standing up the man and corporate manipulation, etc. The book you MUST READ as if your life depends on it is Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. Just the fact that a book like that can be written is a testament to the greatness of America.

Hope this helps.

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#23 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 09:48 PM
 
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As a white woman, I have a platform of privilege to work from, to continue to change what I feel have been injustices in my race's history. As an American, I have a platform of privilege to work from, to continue to change what I feel have been injustices in my country's history. And as a human, I have a platform of privilege to work from, to continue to change the ongoing abuses of the plant and animal kingdoms of my planet.

As a white woman, I hear what you mean. Given that you've been realizing the atrocities of white people for your whole life, it may be tough to see, but you have to use what you've been given, for the highest good. Yk? Being white and being American can be positive, even if it feels terrible to be associated with such awful behaviors of our past. I agree with the pp's about keeping on with what you're doing now & try to focus on digging up the positive associations of being American & white. And to work toward changing what you feel should be different. That is history in the making, and to be associated with a positive change is a great thing to pass along to your kids.

(Sorry this is choppy, my sil talks REALLY LOUDLY on skype and its distracting! We live in a 1/1 apt so I'm trapped with the voice! lol) (tried to edit to make more sense and possibly made it worse, haha, so... hope you can get what I meant by all that!)

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#24 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 10:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by dakotablue View Post
The decision to separate from England was not an act of racists.
Yes, it was.


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Originally Posted by MovnMama View Post
The book you MUST READ as if your life depends on it is Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. Just the fact that a book like that can be written is a testament to the greatness of America.

Hope this helps.


Great book recommendation! Yes!
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#25 of 54 Old 07-08-2010, 10:33 PM
 
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I know what you mean in my own way.

I am part Native American, and part Irish/Scottish.
I used to cling to my Native American- ness ( easier for me because I have black hair and some of the other native features) but I've recently began to delve into my Irish-settler (LOL That sounds weird but you know what I mean) side. It is very interesting how brave and strong the settlers were and how we are made of that same strong stock. I recommend a history channel show called "America The Story of Us"...We watched it and really liked it.


And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wouldnt be here if not for some of the things that happened, both good and bad. And I truly love my life. So I find some peace in that.

Mom to three boys 7/7/00 fencing.gif 11/20/02 and 10/29/2011 luxlove.gif

 

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#26 of 54 Old 07-09-2010, 12:08 AM
 
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I love my husband and I love being in a multicultural family. But sometimes its hard being the white one. He has this beautiful Native American heritage...and I don't have anything to compare to it in that way.

I'm a modern American white girl. Let's face it, the culture there is pretty skimpy unless you count consumerism. My European roots are from too long ago and are too mixed to find any pride in them. And the western settler culture that is the closest thing I could have to a rich heritage is marred by the whole "white people were really cruel to Native Americans (and African Americans, and others I'm sure) not too long ago" thing.

Earlier this week a friend of a friend was asking what we were going to mark on all our sons applications (for school etc) as far as race goes. I don't know why, but the question offended me. He's from both of us. Why does he have to choose one or the other. But then again, when there's a financial incentive to "be" a certain race, I guess it'd be silly not to right?

Then there's the little comments that shouldn't bother me, but do sometimes. For the 4th of July, DH said to one of his cousins "Happy White-Man's Independence Day." It made me sad but I'm not sure why.

I guess I just feel like I have nothing to give my son from my side culturally speaking and it makes me sad. I know he'll grow up saying "I'm Navajo." Does that mean he has nothing of value from my genes?

I feel so culture-less.
Hey mama, well im english/irish, but 4 generations canadian. my baby is half jamaican and black maritime cherokee. My belief in raising my child is to teach him and allow him to experience ALL cultures. Its the society that states your child must be white or black or native or latin w/e, but our babies are the way of the future, mixed ethnicities and cultures creating new children that are multi-dimensional. Dont feel let down that you dont feel you have much cultural spunk to offer, you are able to teach him all cultures in the best way you can, that is AMERICAN!! ( and Canadian!, have to say)

A Toronto born young mama blowkiss.giffreshly moved for a new adventure in ALBERTA! with Superdaddy superhero.gifand her intact and vax free, breastfed and babyworn Aug09 babenono02.gif attending college for early childhood educationwhale.gif   and being blessed with #2 just in time for Valentines Dayheartbeat.gif pos.gif

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#27 of 54 Old 07-09-2010, 12:32 AM
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Maybe I'm weird, but I just think of myself as American. Sure, my ethnic background is a hodgepodge of Western Europe, but my family has been here for too long for me to know any stories and for any cultural traditions to have lasted. Some of my mom's ancestors came over in the 1500's, and I think none of my other ancestors came any later than the 1700's. They all migrated to the Great Plains and started homesteads.

I know that I'm Scotch/Irish, German, and English in ancestry. Culturally, I'm mostly American and slightly Japanese (my adoptive father is Nisei from Hawaii). I've lived on the East Coast of the U.S. for 19 years, so the Japanese has worn off quite a bit.

My grandmother traced one of her ancestors all the way back to France around 1000 A.D. He emmigrated to Ireland. So, does that make us Irish or French? And why does it matter? We're here now. I didn't grow up eating schnitzel or listening to bagpipes. I don't feel the need to bring those things into my life just because my great great great great grandparents once lived there. KWIM?

And yeah, our nation did some scummy things in the past, and it's incredibly far from perfect now, but it's good enough that people from all over the world cross oceans and borders to try and get in.
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#28 of 54 Old 07-09-2010, 04:30 AM
 
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i feel you but in a very diff way... i look very white but am mostly NA. my WHOLE family looks NA and i am the odd man out. i hate it because if i were to say i am proud of were i come from i get death looks... its hard.

Your life doesnât change by the man whos elected. If your loved by someone you can't be rejected... decide what to be and go be it! If your a caged bird brake in and demand that somebody free it.
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#29 of 54 Old 07-09-2010, 04:18 PM
 
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The things that you do to interact with the other people in your society, are what make up a culture as well as the events that you experience together and the small and large rituals and traditions. So in whitebread American culture we have:
  1. Saturday morning cartoons
  2. School starting in September
  3. School getting out in June
  4. Summer vacation
  5. Sesame Street
  6. Getting your DL
  7. The Prom
  8. Wearing a white dress when you get married
  9. Saving the top tier of the wedding cake for your first anniversary
  10. Playing that game where you guess how big the pg momma's belly is with a piece of ribbon
  11. Singing happy birthday and blowing out the candles after you make a wish
  12. The Superbowl
  13. 9-11
  14. 4th of July

Whitebread America has thousands of these things, if you think about it.

Also as far as what to mark on the census/school forms etc - isn't there an option for 2 or more races? I've been marking that box my whole life. Problem solved.
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#30 of 54 Old 07-09-2010, 08:53 PM
 
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I am not native to America but spent a good majority of my life here, and I honestly preferred associating with my native country's culture - which is much more accessible and uniform, because it is a smaller country. But now that it looks like our family will be here permanently I have been thinking about this as well. My husband is quite patriotic (although he is not white either, he identifies as Puerto Rican, but born in the US) so he's always going on about American culture. But what's interesting is that the "American" culture he grew up in, about 45 minutes away from where I grew up, was quite different. He grew up in a multiethnic neighborhood in the city; I grew up in a pretty affluent very-white, WASP-y town. Night and day. Now we live in a third sort of area, which isn't affluent but it's also pretty white, and it's in a totally different region (we lived in CT, now we live out in the Rockies).

Don't laugh, please? We went to Disneyworld recently and my favorite part of that is Epcot, the World Showcase. Some of the country exhibits there are slightly more involved than others, and granted they're all very superficial and "Disney" and yeah sure. BUT. They did have an American exhibit and that made me thoughtful. They had a colonial themed garden, themed dresses. We ate at the Liberty Inn Tavern at the MK (I think?) which was a relatively good reproduction of a real tavern (we went to a few on field trips back when I was a kid). That was pretty "American" to me and even before I read this thread it made me think about that sort of stuff. What American culture was like.

And yes, there was slavery, there was some crazy religious stuff, Native-land-stealing, there was the Civil War, etc. But there were also lots of other things.

We are going to be homeschooling and one reason (out of many!) for this choice is that I think it's super important to cover American culture *well*. My tentative plan is to break it down into the following categories, over time:

a) learn about the Natives who were here first, their various cultures and nations and such
b) split the country into different regions and concentrate on them one by one. their history, their culture, their contributions to the nation as a whole. even things like food, music, local stories. Maybe even take it state by state and research each state's history and offerings one at a time.
c) general american culture - American folklore - tall tales, stories like Rip Van Winkle, The Headless Horseman, others, children's novels - Little House Books, the Little Strawberry Girl, even the American Girls types of stories - novels by American writers about American themes - Scarlet Letter, Poe (he was American, right? ) Mark Twain, and other distinctly American authors, painters, poets, etc. - American architecture, some stuff about the "heydey" of America (I think of it as about 1900's or so).

It's easy to get disillusioned with American culture. But I think it is great, great, great, that there IS so much freedom here. Maybe not the same opportunities for everyone, and maybe not as much accessible culture as I'd like. Suburbia is kind of blah. Where I was from, you'd have castles and Roman ruins and museums and just STUFF everywhere. Here, not so much. But this is a big country and there is a lot to learn about it. And that's just without even going into the various "mixes" - Italian-American, Irish-American, German-American, Mexican-American etc. cultures.
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