The Popular Media 'Be White, Act White' Meme Bites
Sunday, February 10, 2019 at 01:48PM
Dustan Doud

'American as Apple Pie' makes for an apple pie thats missing Cinnamon from Sir Lanka and Nutmeg from the West Indies.  That's terrible bland pie.   And the sugar in that malic American pie is going to cost dear unless it comes from Brazil.  So...  

Black face and Virgina.  Um... that's ugly.  You've got white supremisists on one side citing examples of white politicians in blackface as a reason those people suck, presumably for some lack of purity of thought.  And you've a reasonable thinking population thinking their elected leaders suck, presumably because they are about as racial sensitive as Rosanee Barr on double doses of Ambien.

I'm going to take the wildly unpopular view that the firmly established majority of American's are not thinking about this situation properly, and I'm near certain to fail to convince anyone that they should change their minds, but all the same I will try.

It is typically unkind to wear blackface, and there are good reasons to see it as intending to provoke, racially mocking or denegrating.   I really wish it was accepted as a way to celebrate black culture and black heros, or merely an excercise of free speech, but historical precidents exist.  Still the the absolutism of this problem falls apart with reductionism.   

My beautiful little sweetheart aunt with her mys'tary'us accent in the 1970's seemed to have a hard to identify racial identiy,  from old photos you might guess she was Itallian, latino, polynesian or middle eastern.  She was gentle, gracious and kind, even when being mimicked for her accent and softly spoken words by her mother in law.  When playing accordian she could pass for an outdoor Parisian musician.  I don't think she was trying to sell herself as something she wasn't,  precious few people you meet are from Novia Scotia, play accordian and happen to be native american.  So if she committed a cultural offense it was, what: wearing what she liked, playing accordian, defying expectation and a lack intense cultural identity?   

If the answer is that my Aunt gets a pass, they why just her?  I cite "its not fair!" and the foot stomp that follows usually seen in todlers. 

Mocking cultures is bad.  Notions of required cultural purity and cultural racial ownership are just about as bad. Freezing culture is bad, living cultures change, dead ones don't even with veneration.    The unspoken 'Be White, Act White or else' rule the media seem to have on Fox and Friends and CNN just reinforces those first three things in ways that are unhelpful.  Culturial contamination shouldn't be a thing worth caring about.  "Be white, act white" presumes American's love (and deserve) terrible tasting bland apple pie.

For rocking American Apple, please include a little spice.  And include ingredients from a few old immigrants, like Eurasian cows for butter, Asian ginger, central asian Apples, and Turkish wheat.  And this is where my 'it takes-the-whole-world' to make good pie analogy breaks down a bit because Apple pies don't contain many things native to Africa, aside from an old Egyptian bread heating method still in use today.  Um, my bad.    

It is possible I just don't get oppresion, or understand the pain of being something you don't want to be part of. Maybe my fundamental error is in the belief that the whole of humanity owns human culture, when the really is that the world never actually worked that way.   I still don't get the notion of self appointed cultural defenders trying to curtail access to great ideas rather expand influence... but human culture doesn't have be what I think is better for human community in a small world.  Maybe culture exists in large part just to mark bounds, not to connect people but define and isolate.  

Even if I am wrong about everything that the human heritage of culture is, should be and can be, I still grind my teeth when I hear someone called not black enough (say Pamella Harris for a mixed cultural ancestory and for mariage to a white man) or not white enough (say Thomas Jefferson for his relationship with Sarah "Sally" Hemings).   Like conforming to random someone's personal imagined sterotype could somehow be perfect for all humanity.  One thing is certain, it is easy these days to speak dismal volumes about yourself when you choose to mock others with just a few slurs.  

Article originally appeared on canceLLogic (
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