Friday, September 5, 2008

The unbearable whiteness of being

Let me make it crystal clear at the outset, I've got nothing against white people. Many of my friends are white, in fact, and I am married to a white woman and we have white children together. As a reader here, you may be surprised to learn that I, myself, am white as well.

But when it comes to whiteness, there's nothing that can compare with a Republican National Convention.

If you have been a campaign follower for the last few months, you will have seen many staged candidate appearances, the type that result in eight seconds on the evening news. In these events you can typically see a carefully selected group of people in the background, behind the stumping candidate. If the polls show weakness with women voters, behold, there will be women in the background. If the Hispanic vote is weak for Joe Candidate, the bleachers will be chock-a-block with brown faces. But when it comes convention time, you can't dictate who gets seen, and the last few nights have revealed just how relentlessly white is the GOP. As Time mentions in this article:

"(The Republican conventioners were) an overwhelmingly Caucasian group of people — 93% of the delegates were white..."

But who cares? We should live color blind and not evaluate people by their skin tone, right? I don't think being white means you necessarily have a pre-determined set of values or beliefs, or that you love the taste of mayonnaise on Wonder Bread. I don't believe in white stereotypes anymore than I believe in black or Hispanic or Asian stereotypes, by which I mean I believe them all equally.

The point is this: if politics is about representation, how does a 93% white convention represent us as a whole? Living in California you are accustomed to an array of epidermis and a mixing of cultures - but it's not just a left coast phenomenon. As reported here for example:

"By the year 2055 at current fertility and immigration rates, white European Americans will be a minority for the first time since they came to outnumber the Native Americans in the 18th century," said Joe Feagin, a UF sociologist and expert on race relations. "And none of our white leaders are paying any attention to desegregating our society in meaningful ways."

In just 35 years -- 2030 -- the majority of young people in the United States, those ages 18 and younger, will not be white, said Feagin, co-editor of a new book of essays about race, ethnicity and the urban crisis titled "The Bubbling Cauldron."

Here are two photos, one from this week's GOP shingdig, and the other from 1940. The real world has changed a lot in that time - in terms of whiteness, the look of the Republican Convention has not.

2 comments:

hillbilly deluxe said...

Got some problem with white folks?

Barry Martin said...

Come on, deluxe, re-read the lead. I am pro-white folks all the way. As long as they know their place...