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Do White people have a code of silence?:

 1 Grain, Fri, 27th May '11 1:53:02 PM from South Northwest Earth
Only One Avatar
I'm interested in studying race relations and racial identity development. It's an uncomfortable and emotional topic, but I'm usually able to start informative conversations with Latinos, Blacks, Asians, and religious minorities (similar topic) about their unique experiences.

When I try to ask questions about the White experience in America, I get three responses:

  1. They become awkwardly silent.
  2. They seem to have no idea what I'm talking about.
  3. They explicitly decline to answer or tell me to stop asking such questions.

A Muslim woman was once telling me about how her faith affected her interpersonal relationships, but she was unable to share any experiences about how her race (White) affected her relationships. Maybe she is a rare individual whose race is kept completely separate from her religious identity by everyone, but I doubt it.

Why is it so hard for me to find White people to talk about how race affects their lives when I live in a diverse city? Why do people tell me to stop talking about this extremely significant and fascinating sociological phenomenon? Do they lack self-awareness? Are they keeping secrets? Both? Something else?
94. Grandmaster of Shark
First, the way you phrase that makes it sound as if white people had some kind of Global Conspiracy going on. Secondly, it is just that being white is perceived as the social normality.

For many people, it's the default, so they never think about it.

 
 4 storyyeller, Fri, 27th May '11 1:58:56 PM from Appleloosa Relationship Status: RelationshipOutOfBoundsException: 1
More like giant cherries
Probably

edited 27th May '11 1:59:25 PM by storyyeller

Life is simple: it has no nontrivial normal subgroups.
 5 pvtnum 11, Fri, 27th May '11 1:59:35 PM from Kerbin low orbit Relationship Status: We finish each other's sandwiches
linkup
I'm white and I live in Hawaii, so that makes me a minority. Of course, there really isn't a majority to be had here, so that's a moot point, unless you group all people of Asian descent into one bucket.

Having grown up in a predominatly white-majority area in my youth, it is somewhat neat to be in "mixed plate" environment. I can pretty much experience a huge variety of cultures, cusine, styles and languages without even leaving my office. Which is cool.

Racism does exist here, though, but I don't seem to experience it.
Happiness is zero-gee with a sinus cold.
 6 Mousa The 14, Fri, 27th May '11 2:01:53 PM from Northern Virginia Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Artist, Writer, Ignored
I would imagine it's because it's not exactly a question you think about when you're considered the Tabula Rasa of races.

I suggest reading White Like me by Time Wise, good book, sort of brings your point up.
My Art |Bloggening

When All Else Fails, worry, that's the 14 way.
 7 Grain, Fri, 27th May '11 2:02:59 PM from South Northwest Earth
Only One Avatar
First, the way you phrase that makes it sound as if white people had some kind of Global Conspiracy going on. Secondly, it is just that being white is perceived as the social normality.

When an entire room of people ignores your question, and one of them threatens to leave the room, it feels very surreal. This is a room full of liberal-minded people who experience racial diversity every day.

edited 27th May '11 2:03:45 PM by Grain

 8 storyyeller, Fri, 27th May '11 2:04:18 PM from Appleloosa Relationship Status: RelationshipOutOfBoundsException: 1
More like giant cherries
Well when you do force people to think about it, you might make them feel a little guilty.
Life is simple: it has no nontrivial normal subgroups.
 9 Fighteer, Fri, 27th May '11 2:04:33 PM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Probably does have to do with a combination of white being perceived as "default" and the general uncomfortableness of talking about race as a white person. There's very little you can say that isn't going to be perceived as bigoted in some way. We're unfortunately in a kind of catch-22 in that regard.

  • "Sure, I have lots of <race> friends, " is seen as My Species Doth Protest Too Much.
  • "I don't really think about race, " is being ignorant.
  • "I don't like <race> because <y>, " is being bigoted.
  • "I think race issues are [greatly exaggerated|a form of reverse discrimination], " is a kneejerk evasion of responsibility.
  • "Sucks to be white because you can't talk about these things without getting in trouble, " is evading the issue.

Neoclassicism, AKA the Tinkerbell school of economics.
Lover of masks.
I imagine its like asking how does being an earthling affects your relationships. Try finding an interracial white... inter racial sounds wrong... and ask them how it affects them.
Please.
 11 Mousa The 14, Fri, 27th May '11 2:05:10 PM from Northern Virginia Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Artist, Writer, Ignored
[up][up][up]That too

[up][up][up][up]You asked a whole room? Wow, that sounds potentially hilarious.

edited 27th May '11 2:05:25 PM by MousaThe14

My Art |Bloggening

When All Else Fails, worry, that's the 14 way.
 12 pvtnum 11, Fri, 27th May '11 2:05:59 PM from Kerbin low orbit Relationship Status: We finish each other's sandwiches
linkup
Fighteer: Good point. Wonder where I fell into that spectrum based off of my earlier post...

edited 27th May '11 2:06:17 PM by pvtnum11

Happiness is zero-gee with a sinus cold.
 13 Karkadinn, Fri, 27th May '11 2:06:56 PM from New Orleans, Louisiana
Karkadinn
Subcultural cohesion is based on mutual pride in one's identity. When was the last time you met someone who was proud to be white that wasn't a blatant racist? Yeah, whites got to turn in their racial unity card over abuse issues. It'll be returned in due time with good behavior.

Insofar as white people in a general sense are allowed (or allow themselves) to have a subculture, it's by way of country-based or regional patriotism or religion. And in those instances, you can note plenty of people who are proud to be X Y or Z that just happen to be mostly white, for better or worse. But to acknowledge the ethnic group directly is to mire oneself in a deep pit of self-loathing from which there is no escape.
Furthermore, I think Guantanamo must be destroyed.
 14 Mousa The 14, Fri, 27th May '11 2:09:05 PM from Northern Virginia Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Artist, Writer, Ignored
It is interesting that this whole issue would have slightly more answers if it was less racial and more ethnic/cultural i.e. Irish, Scottish, English, Southern, Russian, French, Polish, etc... experience.

edited 27th May '11 2:09:36 PM by MousaThe14

My Art |Bloggening

When All Else Fails, worry, that's the 14 way.
 15 Grain, Fri, 27th May '11 2:11:18 PM from South Northwest Earth
Only One Avatar
Subcultural cohesion is based on mutual pride in one's identity. When was the last time you met someone who was proud to be white that wasn't a blatant racist? Yeah, whites got to turn in their racial unity card over abuse issues. It'll be returned in due time with good behavior.

Insofar as white people in a general sense are allowed (or allow themselves) to have a subculture, it's by way of country-based or regional patriotism or religion. And in those instances, you can note plenty of people who are proud to be X Y or Z that just happen to be mostly white, for better or worse. But to acknowledge the ethnic group directly is to mire oneself in a deep pit of self-loathing from which there is no escape.

I don't ask people if they're proud to be White or Black or whatever. I ask them to share their experiences where an aspect of their identities saliently affected an interpersonal situation, and I ask them what kind of ruminations they have about those parts of their identities.

edited 27th May '11 2:11:48 PM by Grain

Professional Nerd
Well, I can't really speak for everyone, but talking about one's own whiteness is sort of akin to walking a racial faux pas land mine. It is really difficult for a lot of people to talk about being white and all that it entails without either a) making themselves incredibly uncomfortable or b) making everyone else really uncomfortable.

Also, people in a non-minority status tend not to notice their non-minority status in the way minorities do. For example, straight people don't think about being straight on a daily basis because they don't have to deal with the constant hiccups in life that go, "Hey, there! It's life, again. Just popping in to remind you that being straight's considered normal, and you're not. I'll catch you again in a few hours. Bye!" It's sort of the same way with being white — In America, you're considered normal if you're white, so you're not regularly reminded that you're not.
"If there's a hole, it's a man's job to thrust into it!"
Ryoma Nagare, New Getter Robo
 17 Mousa The 14, Fri, 27th May '11 2:12:39 PM from Northern Virginia Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Artist, Writer, Ignored
[up][up]When you're considered the norm you're not going to think about that sort of thing due to the perception that your experience is not unusual because of who you are.

It all results into the responses enumerated by Fighteer above.

edited 27th May '11 2:13:09 PM by MousaThe14

My Art |Bloggening

When All Else Fails, worry, that's the 14 way.
 18 Grain, Fri, 27th May '11 2:13:34 PM from South Northwest Earth
Only One Avatar
Even if they feel that being White is a default, shouldn't they be aware of experiences they've had with non-White people?
 19 Mr AHR, Fri, 27th May '11 2:14:34 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
I think a better example would be something like "What does it feel like to be christian?" if you're not too orthodox, or "what is it like to be AIDS/cancer free?"
That wasn't exactly the question being asked though.

But I wonder how things would go if people in the US were asked about being from Texas, or New York...
 
94. Grandmaster of Shark
To provide an analogy, imagine you would ask someone " How does having five fingers at each hand affect your life?"

 22 Mousa The 14, Fri, 27th May '11 2:15:21 PM from Northern Virginia Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Artist, Writer, Ignored
[up]x4 Sometimes, sometimes not, it depends on the person and the experience. Not everyone is going to pay attention to their race while in the presence of people of different melanin levels.

edited 27th May '11 2:15:57 PM by MousaThe14

My Art |Bloggening

When All Else Fails, worry, that's the 14 way.
Lover of masks.
The only time the whiteness should show is when something gives em a cue. If they enter a room of all blacks for example.
Please.
 24 Bobby G, Fri, 27th May '11 2:17:10 PM from the Silvery Tay
vigilantly taxonomish
I'm not sure what you'd say. I mean, not American, but if you asked me what my experiences were with non-white people I wouldn't have any idea what to say. I've met a lot of people. Some of them weren't white. Some of those not white people were nice to me, some of them weren't. The subject of race didn't usually come up.
[up][up]Why would I want to go into New Zealand's locker room?

edited 27th May '11 2:18:03 PM by blueharp

 
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