Prejudice Against Whites Comes from Prejudice Originated By Other Whites

by Unai Montes-Irueste | 11/10/97 6:00am

I am a very prejudiced person. Far be it from me to pretend as if I do not emit racism, sexism, homophobia, ethnocentrism and classism into the Dartmouth environment on a regular basis; and while I blame a society that does not care for its children for most of my acculturated bigotry, I do not absolve myself of the responsibility of perpetuating jingoist attitudes, nor do I deny my greater obligation to attempt to prevent the transmission of my narrow-mindedness to my children.

Recently a friend of mine called me a "hypocrite" because she perceived that I had a very harsh attitude towards whites which was incongruous with the highly-tolerant/anti-discriminatory image that I projected as a "campus-activist." To say the least I was very shocked and quite hurt to be accused of the greatest sin in the hierarchy of Dante's inferno (the two obvious hypocrites from the tradition of the Western canon--Judas the two-faced betrayer of Christ and Brutus his counterpart in Caesar's kingdom--are forever being consumed in Dis' mouth in the ninth circle of hell).

My immediate reaction was of course to deny the charge as well as to try and contextualize any and all statements I may have made in my Dartmouth career alluding to individuals or groupings of them in which I used the word "white" as a qualifier or an indicative of a behavior, pre-disposition, temperament, et cetera. Clearly, my mental images of an extra space opening up in Dis' mouth down in the ninth circle made me a bit defensive and hypersensitive, but nonetheless I feel that even in my most prejudiced mindset I have conceived of, or spoken aloud, very few sweeping generalizations about a white person or about white people in general.

I cannot unfortunately say the same thing about other groups of people. It is easier to make fun of certain races, religions, ethnicities, lifestyles and cultures than others; just as it is easier to belittle women than it is to demean men.

For example, God knows that while we as US American residents may not know much about the role that persons of African descent played in the intellectual and political advancement of this country, we all know that Jimmy Walker was a skinny, big-lipped man who ran around saying that everything was DYNAMITE! on Good Times , and that East Coast rappers run around in oversized Tommy Hilfiger clothes and Timberland boots calling one another niggaz and referring to the women who won't satisfy them sexually as bitches and to the ones that will as ho's .

It is unfortunate, and in my opinion ironic, that the only prejudices I can conceive of with respect to white people are stereotypes which are based on opposites . If Latino/Hispanic men are hot-blooded, romantic seducers of women, with a reputation for knowing their way around the bedroom, then white men are cold-blooded, un-romantic-don't-know-the-first-thing-about-seducing-women creatures, who cannot find the bed (much less figure out what to do in it). If black women are loud-mouthed, voluptuous beings with voracious sexual appetites and a take-control approach to relationships, then white women are silent, non-shapely organisms with sexually-passive attitudes who let men walk all over them in relationships.

The point of this is to demonstrate that in my mind no true prejudices exist against white people in US American culture. This is not to say that non-white people cannot be prejudicial towards white people, but it is to say that every single manner in which I think one could stereotype the Caucasian census group comes as a reaction to white control over the government, the major financial institutions, the mass media, and the methods as well as the materials used for the production of goods in this country. (You'll forgive me for sounding so Marxist but I hope that everyone at Dartmouth can admit that the lines of race and class have historically been very blurry in the Americas).

The paradoxical nature of the United States is as follows: nearly every socio-cultural symbol the USA projects out to the rest of the world as distinctly its own is the creation of a non-white person or a community of non-white peoples: Jazz music as most of us know it is nothing less than the creation of persons of African and Latin American descent (and these two are most definitely not mutually exclusive); Blues, Gospel, Rock-n-Roll, R&B, Funk, Disco, and Rap exist thanks to innovative African-Americans; the traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner with cranberry and pumpkin treats was obviously not the idea of sick and starving Puritans who were looking for Jamestown but of the Native People living and subsistence farming in present-day Eastern Massachusetts.

There are many US American creations and accomplishments which non-white persons in this country ought to be able to take pride from; certainly I give Dartmouth students credit for recognizing that there exist many more everyday examples than the few I listed above--for example, even if everyone on this campus doesn't know that Thomas Alva Edison was of Mexican descent, I certainly expect everyone to remember that a black man, George Washington Carver, invented the peanut butter which many US American children consume in a rapacious manner.

I as a white-skinned person can readily admit that life is easier without traditional visual-prejudice as a factor in my everyday life, but as a non-white blooded person I confess that it infuriates me that a person who is not a member of a marginalized group claims that true and original forms of discrimination exist against them. There is no prejudice against whites (including prejudices against groups such as the Irish and the Italians) which is not a direct reaction to a prejudice originated and put forth by other white persons.

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