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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, so I've been doing some thinking about ethnicity, ethnic nationality, and Americans in the wake of a cultural anthropology class.<br><br>
Is it possible for Americans of primarily European descent to have a sense of ethnic pride without being considered ethnocentric cretins and/or racist bastards? If we have no such pride in ourselves, are we missing out on something that seems to be very important to many, many people in the world, by far most?<br><br>
Can we legitimately consider ourselves to have a homeland in the United States, even while acknowledging the prior claim of indigenous people we took the land from? It's not as though we could get on a boat and go back to where our ancestors came from. So many of us had ancestors from so many different places and ethnicities, and in Europe there is certainly no unified sense of pride in themselves as Europeans, but as their specific ethnic nationalities. Must we just pick one? If my great-grandma was Irish, can I consider myself Irish and take some pride in that? Or if my Grandpa was Spanish, should I take pride in that? Or should I be ashamed of the conquistadors in my family tree and that's it?<br><br>
Do you have to have been opressed by someone else before you can take pride in your ethnicity? If so, how recently? Is the American Revolution a legitimate basis for an ethnic origin myth?
 

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I think that one can have ethnic pride for one's country or people of origin (since not all peoples have countries). And I think that one can be proud to be an American.<br><br>
But when someone takes their ethnic pride to a degree (taking my case, Irish) where they think they are actually Irish in the way that an Irish person in Ireland is, THAT becomes boring, fast. "Racial pride", especially that silly thing called "white pride" is dangerous. But it becomes complicated, I think, in the case of African-Americans, because in most cases their ancestral knowledge of exactly where they came from and which ethnic group they actually sprang from was obliterated by slavery. So in their case, and I would argue in their case alone, they are talking ethnicity when it sounds like they are talking race (in many cases). Pride in being an American becomes dangerous when one begins deciding who and who is not or what is and what is not "American".
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Okay, so I've been thinking about some non-obnoxious ways in which Euro-Americans and Americans in general have, in my experience, to express/experience some of the pride I'm talking about.<br><br>
There are reenactment groups. Some are war-focused, some are pioneer-focused, some are European-focused (such as the SCA and Renaissance Faires). Some of these focus on historical accuracy while others focus on "the good bits", if you will (most notably the SCA and Rens). In some ways these things are somewhat equivalent to Native American Pow-Wows: an effort to hold on to a sense of roots and traditional culture in an era of pop culture kitsch and corporate market-driven dictates of what is American.<br><br>
For many people their faith provides some of this sort of pride and grounding. It has something to do with why I became a Neo-Pagan Reconstructionist, looking for those roots I also found a spiritual tradition that made more sense to me.<br><br>
There are also the national holidays, folk heroes, and celebrations tied to the American Origin Myth--Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, the Founding Fathers, Daniel Boone, Suffragettes, Woodstock (the first one) etc.<br><br>
Many people also take pride in their regional culture within the US. Texas are a very large and loud example of this. It's something I always felt I missed out on because I grew up in Idaho and Texas with parents who were transplants from California and the children/grandchildren of immigrants to California either from other parts of the US or from Europe. So no roots here tied to any particular patch of land, and I have that in common with many, many of my fellow Americans.<br><br>
I want to instill in my daughter a sense of pride rather than shame, tempered with an understanding that we are fortunate and privileged and that with that comes responsibility and a need for awareness that there are other ways to be human, but not any kind of inborne superiority.<br><br>
Am I making any sense?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
With respect to African-Americans, they are a perfectly legitimate subnational ethnicity. That is, they aren't a separate nationality with claims to a homeland, but an ethnic group in their own right within the US, with slavery and a century plus more of oppression following it as major components of their ethnic origin myth. They exist as a modern ethnic group, that is a group of people with a perceived shared history and ancestry. Ethnicity can be defined on several levels which may nest within each other. Thus, one may be, for example, American, Euro-American, and Irish-American, or American, Native American, and Navajo, or American, Euro-American, Texan, or American, Euro-American, Jew, etc.<br><br>
(Please note that I do not use myth as "a made up story" but in the anthropological-use context of "an explanation/history that has significant meaning for a group of people regardless of whether or not it is true or false".)<br><br>
I'm sticking to the terminology I have been taught in my anthropology classes. The term "race" is a sticky wicket in that it's a cultural construct that's poorly defined, politically charged, and without basis in biology as has been historically argued.
 

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TOTALLY !! you have pride in your ethnic backround.<br>
I'm 2nd Generation Eastern-European American (Polish, Czecho-Slovak).<br>
I was raised with the proudness of my heritage.<br>
I raised my DD with that knowledge & will raise my DS that way.<br>
I am proud of the way my "peeps" endured terrible suffering & poverty under any number of regimes thruout the last 1000 yrs.. Even tho' my "peeps" were always oppressed by one counrtry or another, their pride was with themselves so the oppression was not the biggest factor.<br>
I'm proud of my Great-Grandparents risking everything coming to a country (U.S) of whose language they did not speak, taking jobs under the worst conditions, bringing only what they could carry & intense faith in their religion & themselves to try to give future generations (as myself) a better life.<br>
I try to include many traditions (family & some religious) in my everyday life as did my family.<br>
I'm very proud of my hard-working Easter-European family.<br>
THey learned the language, ran businesses, voted & very proud of their heritage BUT EVEN MORE PROUD of their new homeland (U.S.)<br>
We go to many of the ethnic fairs in my city because it's a blast to see all the different food, music & traditions.<br><br>
edited to add: this has nothing to do with being white or any color for me.... it has to do the character of my family & "peeps" <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">
 

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Well, I think we are mixing together two very different concepts here, that is<br>
"ethnicity" and "whiteness."<br><br>
Taking pride in one's ethnic heritage, ie: Irish, Hungarian, Greek, whatever, is one thing.<br><br>
Taking pride in "whiteness" is altogether different, imo.<br><br>
And is hard, if not impossible, to get into this without getting into the sticky issues of race.<br>
Irish, Hungarian etc.. are ethnic identies based on country of family orgin. Ireland and Hungary are real places, with real histories.<br><br>
"White" is a racial construct. A concept. It is not a real ethnicity. My ancestors did not come from Whiteland.<br><br>
White, as I said, is a racial construct, used to differentiate a class of people from another class of people described as Non-White.. the "other" in a white privileged culture.<br>
Yes, my government forces me to check "white" or "caucasion" on census forms.<br>
And I have to accept the label of "white" even though it has absolutely no meaning and says nothing about my actual heritage.<br>
It does, however, say volumes about the privilege conferred upon me in this culture.<br>
And it confers upon me a responsibilty to unlearn that privilege.<br>
White is not anything I take pride in, though I can't really get away from it until privilege is equalised in this culture.<br><br>
Now, I do take a great deal of pride in my Hungarian/Latvian/Russian/German Jewish ancestry.. and in the accomplishments and struggles of my ancestors.. I enjoy our foods and cultural traditions.. those things are all very real to me.. and I am not oppressing anyone by taking pride in them.<br><br>
So I just think we have to carefully sort out our terms.<br>
I am not a "white" person taking pride in my ethnicity.. I am a person of Hungarian/Latvian/Russian/German Jewish ancestry taking pride in my ethnicity.<br><br>
That is very different than any sort of "white pride."
 

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Whiteland!<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/ROTFLMAO.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="rotflmao">
 

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I don't feel "pride" for my race, ethinicity, or country of residence. I think that's kind of silly to be perfectly honest. I think people should be proud of what they've actually contributed to their local communities or families, "America", "Irish", or "Europeans" are just too broad of terms to be able to feel some sort of personal connection to.
 

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Meh...<br><br>
My ethnicity is mixed so this is a hard question. I think when things come up it kind of goes into some "who is more oppressed or has been more oppressed"<br><br>
Nearly any nationality/religion has been oppressed at some point or another if you dig in history enough.<br><br>
Everyone should be able to have pride in their heritage.<br><br>
Usually it is governmental anyways rather than individually. Sure, there are historical figures that I dislike, that completely screwed my tribe or attempted to wipe out my tribe. But what do their decendants have to do with it? They don't have anything to do with it. You are responsible for your own actions.<br><br>
Yes, there are people now who missappropiated our tribal funds and we are going to hand them their butts. That is their actions, not their ancestors.<br><br>
No, I don't think it appropiate to take pride in "whiteness" as like someone said..there is no "whiteland" Being white from England entails a different history than being white from Croatia. Yes, you should take pride in your heritage but pride in your race is kind of well....too generalized in my opinion. Not all Indian Tribes get along and I am not proud of the things some of them have done. Some of them I am even distantly related to and if we meet in person we are VERY rude to each other. But that is a very long story. :LOL
 

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My ancestry is Dutch, Italian and British. I don't necessarily take pride in it, but find it vaguely interesting, like when I meet other people of Dutch ancestry who have similar facial characteristics as me and my father, or when I found out how my last name had been the product of a change at Ellis Island.<br><br>
But my family never celebrated these ethnicities while I was growing up, with food, symbols, celebrations, anything. Maybe I would feel differently if we had. I also did not know any of the first-generation American family members who came from those countries.<br><br>
L.
 

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In the book Twleve Wild Sawns, Starhawk talks about getting in touch with our familial roots, including ethnicities, as part of discovering who we are and placing ourselves within a family and cultural context. It talks about uncovering both the good and the bad things about our roots, things ancestors did that we are proud of, and things that we are not proud of. It is peaceful and respectful, and isn't about suggesting that white people's ethnicities are any better than anyone else's.<br><br>
That said, I dont find as a white Ukrainian/British person that I feel particularly connected to my roots at this point in my life, or any need/desire to associate my pride with my ethnic background. I'd rather feel proud about being a mama, or a queer woman, or a feminist, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Please note that I went back and edited my original post to say "euro-americans" rather than white, because I really am thinking in ethnic, rather than racial, terms, and attempted to clarify that in later posts, but it didn't change the later title.<br><br>
It does involve that cultural construct known as race, though. It seems to me that in the context of modern racial politics, which based as they may be on ill-defined categories like skin color, nonetheless have a significant impact and significant implications in our culture, because of the importance placed on the idea of race historically and the lingering notions of it today.<br><br>
As an American who those prone to racial categorizations would call white, I would not presume to take pride in my skin color, per se. Particularly as it is, in my present environment, and adaptational disadvantage!<br><br>
But as an American, I cannot trace my ancestry to any one European ethnicity, or even to several specific ones on my mother's side. Generations of poverty have a way of obliterating genealogies. On my father's side I am Spanish and Portuguese. But in the past, trying to lay claim to Hispanic heritage, I've been told I'm white and don't speak Spanish, so I don't have the right. After being raised by my father to have some pride in that part of my heritage, it was very disheartening to be told I'm not "Hispanic" enough. Then I have other people tell me the term "Hispanic" isn't even legit.<br><br>
Add my DH's background into the mix, and DD is even more of a Euro-American mutt: English and Polish mostly on her dad's side. So we've got Eastern, Western, and Southern Europe all covered. Might as well just take the Euro-American heritage thing and run with it. Right?<br><br>
But then the "you should be ashamed of yourselves because your ancestors conquered most of the rest of the world and screwed it up" line of thought comes in.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Ravin</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">If my great-grandma was Irish, can I consider myself Irish and take some pride in that? Or if my Grandpa was Spanish, should I take pride in that? Or should I be ashamed of the conquistadors in my family tree and that's it?<br><br>
Do you have to have been opressed by someone else before you can take pride in your ethnicity?</div>
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I feel much the way <b>mz_libbie</b> does. I only feel "pride" when it comes to accomplishments. Being born a certain color or on certain soil doesn't count, IMO, as an accomplishment. I am most certainly <i>interested</i> in my ethnic ancestry, but not <i>proud</i> of it.<br><br>
When it comes to being ashamed of what your ancestors did (like the conquistadors), I think it's equally silly. You weren't there. You didn't contribute to the madness.<br><br>
As for being oppressed, remember that the Irish were enslaved by the English, too. My husband is Polish. Many Poles were exterminated in the death camps in WWII. Yes, black slavery in the U.S. was a horrible thing.... but lots of people forget that those black slaves were sold to the Europeans by <b>other Africans.</b> Some Native American tribes raided other Native American tribes and kept/sold them as slaves, too. Most, if not all, cultures have committed atrocities against other human beings.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mz_libbie22</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I don't feel "pride" for my race, ethinicity, or country of residence. I think that's kind of silly to be perfectly honest. I think people should be proud of what they've actually contributed to their local communities or families, "America", "Irish", or "Europeans" are just too broad of terms to be able to feel some sort of personal connection to.</div>
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This sums up my thoughts as well...<br><br>
I'm sorta befuddled by ethnic pride, to tell you the truth. I guess I view birth into a particular family that has a particular ethnicity in a particular country as pure luck (or unluck)... being proud of that luck seems silly to me. Like being proud of having red hair... or winning the lotto. They didn't actually DO anything to get there. KWIM?<br><br>
It makes more sense to me to be proud of your own accomplishments and contributions.
 

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I don't see why pride in your heritage would be viewed as being a racist bastard. There are all sorts of societies and groups you can belong where you can celebrate traditions and things from all sorts of ethnic backgrounds. There is a Norwegian Christmas display at my local library right now. There is also a bilingual (english/spanish) story time for toddlers. I used to go to Oktoberfest put on my the German-American group in Oakland.<br>
It's not racist to have pride in your heritage. Where it gets sticky is having pride in skin color or putting down other groups to feel proud. I know that some non-white groups do this and it makes some white people feel that it's unfair. That if those non-white opressed groups can walk around celebrating their skin color and saying the white people are opressive, why can't white people go around saying they love being white? The answer is in history. There isn't a main history in this country of "brown" people opressing white people. "White" people are the dominant group. They have access to privilege that many non-whites do not have - even if they don't realize or acknowledge it. What do the people with the most wealth look like in this country? What do the majority of our top leaders look like? What do the majority of the CEOs of the top companies in our country look like? What do the majority of the Deans of our top universities look like?<br>
So when a marginalized group celebrates who they are by showing how they are not the opressors but the opressed, it doesn't hurt the opressor. The power dynamic dictates that. It may be a negative way to feel empowered and I understand if people would feel uncomfortable with it too. I also understand that many times, marginalized and opressed groups WANT to challenge comfort levels. They WANT to make you think and wonder why you feel uncomfortable. They WANT you to realize that you have privileges that they don't in our country where all are supposed to be equal. That doesn't mean you have to like it though. But please understand that it's completely different if you were to do it.
 

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now i can't get this song out of my head! <a href="http://www.plyrics.com/lyrics/nofx/dontcallmewhite.html" target="_blank">http://www.plyrics.com/lyrics/nofx/dontcallmewhite.html</a>
 

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i have so much to say on this topic that if i let myself get started i might not stop. so i won't. EXCEPT to say...<br><br>
* what asherah said<br>
* i'm not a Starhawk fan but i do totally agree w/ the above quote from her<br>
* i think it's vitally important for any white person wanting to become anti-racist to delve into their own ethnic history, good and bad<br>
* i think it's even more important for anti-racist white people to "own" their whiteness - what i mean is you cannot just say "well I don't believe in whiteness, it's just a construct, i am euro-american" - b/c it is a construct of power & privilege as asherah said. by being white, you exercise that power & privilege, you got to deal w/ it. (I am not diggin the NOFX song)<br><b>* everyone should read "How the Irish Became White"</b><br><br>
i'm probably not making much sense. maybe asherah or sadie will swoop in and translate for me. :LOL<br><br>
and i'll add a few of my favorite articles on this and related subjects:<br><a href="http://www.cwsworkshop.org/pdfs/CARC/Family_Herstories/2_On_Being_White.PDF" target="_blank">http://www.cwsworkshop.org/pdfs/CARC...eing_White.PDF</a><br><a href="http://www.cwsworkshop.org/pdfs/CARC/White_Identity/3_Moving_Beyond.PDF" target="_blank">http://www.cwsworkshop.org/pdfs/CARC...ing_Beyond.PDF</a><br><a href="http://www.cwsworkshop.org/pdfs/CARC/Overview/4_For_All_Those.PDF" target="_blank">http://www.cwsworkshop.org/pdfs/CARC..._All_Those.PDF</a><br><br>
and i'm sure Tim Wise has written about this, cuz all he does is write about whiteness, but i didn't bother to look thru his archives for an appropriate article; maybe someone else will feel inspired to do so:<br><a href="http://www.zmag.org/bios/homepage.cfm?authorID=96" target="_blank">http://www.zmag.org/bios/homepage.cfm?authorID=96</a>
 

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I recently facilitated a meeting for a 15 person collective house that is multi-racial. One of the agenda items was "what does it mean to be anti-racist, and what does it mean for white folks to be allies to people of color." It was interesting, to say the least. there was talk of having caucuses of white folks and of people of color, to talk about these topics. one of the white guys said he wouldn't want to be part of a white caucus because it's not a huge part of his identity, it's not really how he identifies, and I just about fell offf my chair.<br><br>
No matter how much we may want to disassociate from the evils perpetrated in the name of 'whiteness' both current and historical, those of us who are white folks still benefit, are still percieved as and treated as white, and can still easily overlook how much racism hurts people.<br><br>
anyhoo, that's not exactly in response to the op.<br><br>
I'll try to add more thoughts later but lots of good stuff already here and I totally, totally second reading Tim Wise. he's a good writer, and sometimes he's so funny it hurts.<br><br>
Plus, he has a young child.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Ravin</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">But then the "you should be ashamed of yourselves because your ancestors conquered most of the rest of the world and screwed it up" line of thought comes in.</div>
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Ironically this is ethnocentrism at its finest! White people, Greece and roman predecessors, European Americans have not conquered the world, there are billions of Chinese to attest to that and a whole African continent full of none European countries, and India and Hong Kong are no longer British colonies. Humanity is becoming more humane, but in the history of the world people gained power be taking it from someone else and sometimes enslaving the losers. China is China because the Chin dynasty won last.<br><br>
Ethnic pride is well and good, just don't look at it hierarchically meaning just because you are proud does not put you above other ethnicities. We shouldn't be embarrassed to be white; we should be embarrassed at our ignorance of other cultures. We call ourselves American, were do we get off claiming the title, aren't Canadians, Mexicans, and Peruvians American?<br><br>
The U.S isn't the center of the universe and to have ethnic pride, white people need to know about other cultures to appreciate the differences.<br><br>
And white people need to understand the power and privilege they hold just by being white. Ladies you know the power you don't have by not being male, do you know the power others lack by not being white? THAT is nothing to be proud of.<br><br>
Most white people don't even know they have a culture, they just think they are American; no you are a white U.S citizen. Non-white people have to know White culture, we don't have to know theirs, that is power and it's nothing to be proud about.<br><br>
How can you be proud of your Christmas tradition and your right to celebrate it, if you don't know what Kwanzaa or Hanukah is?<br><br>
One last thing and I'll step off the soapbox and give someone else a turn.<br>
Some African Americans do know their roots and ancestry. While slavery existed for 400 years on this continent, the last slaves were brought over only 50 years before the civil war. This means that freemen who were once slaves were told stories of Africa by their grandparents.<br><br>
It's ok to be proud of your people, but recognize other people, too. What's wrong with not knowing English? Our national language is English and not German by one vote! And some Mexicans are home! California, Texas, and Arizona to name a few, were Mexico. I think Mexicans should stay.<br><br>
[Stepping off soapbox to hissing and booing and ducking tomatoes.]<br><br>
Edited spelling
 
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