What is Whiteness?

There is a movement in academia- especially as it pertains to US history- that study of the definition of “whiteness” is becoming a dominant theme.  The definition is ignoring anthropological fact and confusing race with ethnicity.  For example, many studies now state that being Italian or Jewish were at one time considered not being “white.”  They entered the world of whiteness only when they entered the “dominant ruling class” which was previously occupied by the ever popular white Anglo-Saxon protestant (WASP) grouping.  This defies anthropological fact.  Instead it defines whiteness through sociological and political parameters rather than the traditional and valid classifications.

While it may have some merit in a sociology or a political science course and professional journals, this view has absolutely nothing to do with whether a relevant group is “white.”

To illustrate the nonsense behind this idea, we need to look to history.  Jim Crow laws were not necessarily specific to the South and had existed in many Northern states.  Segregation was must obvious in the South, but it certainly existed in the North also.  And segregation was based upon race.  Hence, adherents of this new view of race would be hard-pressed to come up with any examples where, for example, in public schools an Irish child was prohibited from attending a school with a German-American child.  The reason is quite simple: they are both obviously white.

It may be true that during the early wave of European immigration to the US in the early part of the 20th century that predominantly WASP or Italian or Eastern Europeans dominated schools existed.  This was due to the natural clustering of immigrant populations, not to any law that existed.  If a public school was situated in a predominantly Italian immigrant area, chances are the student population would be predominantly Italian.  Yet that very school could have under Jim Crow laws prohibited a black child from attending.  Why?  Because he was black while Irish, German or Slovak students would be allowed to attend.

Although it may have been “scandalous” in certain quarters for a Jewish woman to marry an Italian man, there were clearly no laws against it.  Conversely, throughout the United States (again, not exclusive to the South) there existed laws against interracial marriage.  Many labor unions at the time restricted membership to whites only.  Did they exclude Irish, Italian or German immigrants?  Of course they didn’t because these groups were obviously “white.”

It is historical fact that many of these groups were considered white not only by law, but by custom.  Some have noted that many lighter skinned Africans of mixed heritage passed the racial test at the time by claiming Arab descent.  Having passed the test, it is obvious that Arabs were considered white also.  By way of analogy, African, Asian and Native American populations were subjected to segregation and exclusion at various times throughout American history because they obviously failed the “white” test.

As recently as 1958, only 4% of Americans approved of interracial marriage.  Yet, Anglo-American whites were never called out for marrying a fellow white who was not Anglo-American.  Many famous Hollywood stars who happened to be Jewish married gentiles.  Even a light-skinned Cuban (Desi Arnaz) was welcomed into “whiteness” by marrying Lucille Ball.  Can one imagine in 1958 Lucille Ball marrying an African-American star, or an Asian one?  There would have never been an “I Love Lucy.”

While it may be true that in the past people were referred to as “the Italian race,” or “the Jewish race,” it is also true that people were referred to as the “Anglo-Saxon race.”  This fake “racism” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a social sorting of a hierarchy based on national origin, not race.  This is akin to the social hierarchies among today’s Hispanic population.  Based on personal observations, generally speaking South Americans (particularly Colombians and Venezuelans) seem to rank somewhere above Central Americans (Mexicans) who rank somewhere above Puerto Ricans with Dominicans at the bottom of the scale.

I have witnessed in the workplace and among students at schools disagreements descend into a series of ethnic slurs and stereotypes among Hispanic workers/students.  For example, one Cuban-American student insulted a Mexican-American student by telling them their lawn needed cutting.  When a Dominican student intervened, the other two told them to return to their trash can home.  At a former job in a supervisory capacity, I literally had to separate a Mexican-American worker who referred to a Puerto Rican co-worker as “a dirty Puerto Rican.”

Academia, which often does not operate in the real world, often obscures this hierarchy within the white classification because it seriously conflicts with their skewed worldview of racism.  White against white “racism” is no less harmful than white against black or Asian racism.

Instead, academia today is unknowingly practicing racism.  By creating the subcategories of whites they are making false analogies to true racism between whites in general and non-whites (those of African, Native American, and Asian origin).  Because the Irish, the Italian, or the Eastern European Jewish immigrant was excluded or in some cases discriminated against through law or custom was a function of the hierarchy within the general classification of white, but these immigrants were no less white.  This does not mean that they were accepted with open arms and were often the objects of discrimination, hostility, and even violence at times.  Historically, however, they were considered white.

The assertion of “white privilege” in today’s academia cannot fathom the fact that ethnic white minorities could have been subjected to discrimination and still be considered white today.  Formerly, people believed there were sub-races within the general white category.  We have moved beyond that mode of thinking although the residual effects may still exist in some quarters.  The proliferation of racial categories on job applications, college admission applications and the US Census form are the antithesis of a the desire of many: a color-blind society.  By insisting on these categories, Leftist academia is perpetuating an insidious form of racism that serves no race any good.  A job should be filled or a college applicant accepted based on the merits, not the color of their skin, the amount of melanin they possess, the language they speak, or the ethnicity with which they identify.