Thursday, November 08, 2007

i've been thinking a lot about my whiteness lately because of all the discussion around Numbers Trouble [spahr/young] and especially because of what i've been reading on barbara's blog..... barbara is someone that i've always had a lot of respect for as a poet and a thinker and i think what she's written here is really important for people to read.

i always feel uncomfortable when i think about my whiteness and how i came to be where i am. i'm so white i can't even claim any ethnic whiteness like maggie can, that's how white i am. i suppose if i go back to 1680 i can claim my Scottish and then could say something about the English and how we ran away from them, and why, ... but mostly i'm just really uncomfortable and have no idea what to say or what to do and so i don't say anything.

but maybe i just wanted to say that. that i'm uncomfortable and having feelings about the subject and that i don't know everything about what they are yet but, wow, i'm so glad some people are saying something.

12 comments:

judy j said...

yeah. this might interest you, too. and thanks for the tip to barbara's.

John Sakkis said...

though i'm wondering who barbara is intending when she writes

"Do editors of American publications recognize these innovations? How do these editors read or deal with the “foreign” elements in this work, and especially “foreign” elements that do not abide by these editors' preconceived notions, assumptions, and prejudices? For example, not all Asian American poets are East Asian. Not all East Asian poets have Buddhist sensibilities. Not all Hip-hop poets are African American. Not all African American poets are Hip-hop. Not all Spanish writing comes from Latino/a and/or Chicano/a poets. Not all ethnic “innovative” poets disavow ethnicity; many enact rather than simply tell."

because all the editors i know would probably say "yeah, we know that..."

barbara jane said...

hey kate, thanks for linking, and for your thoughts.

john, i am glad you've asked that question, though i do wish you'd have asked it to me. anyway, i think what i wrote in that section is way too abstract, and that i ought to just include an experiential example.

peace, bjr

John Sakkis said...

thanks barbara!

next time to you...

jerrold said...

hey john...

i think you just need to look at the anthology of "asian-american" writing that was published a couple of years ago by, i think, wesleyan...

what makes that one interesting is that the book was edited by an "asian-american", but is as codifying a piece of work as i've ever seen...

John Sakkis said...

hey jerrold,

are you using "codifying" in the pejorative? i'm not sure i take your meaning...

what was this editor's codification as you see it? as in, "this is asian-american poetry" and that's it? what's up?

jerrold said...

hey john...

was more of creating a sense of "this is asian-american-ness" through a "this is asian-american poetry"...entirely ignoring the kinds of multiplicities that bjr was talking about...

i mean, comparing that anthology (will have to find the name of the book & the editor) with a book like premonitions (which i thought was wonderful) is almost unfair...

mongibeddu said...

i'm so white i can't even claim any ethnic whiteness

It's funny you say that, because I've been thinking more and more lately how strange it is that some things get called "culture" and others an "ethnicity." Jewishness, for instance, is easily called an ethnicity, but not Christianity (at least, I've never seen it referred to that way, only as a culture). How does something like that get decided? Why are bagels considered an ethnic food but not chocolate easter eggs? Because, let's face it, the theological content of bagels and easter eggs is pretty much nil.

(And I'm very sorry to hear about Percy Poodle. Seems like he was quite the gentleman.)

Ben F.

kathryn l. pringle said...

hi ben,
thank you for yr kind words re: percy. we really don't know what to do with ourselves right now.

i had never even heard the term "ethnic white" until maggie said "i miss ethnic whites." and i was like, "what?" and she said... "o, yr from california... all the white people are so white here." and she still had to explain a little.... but then i got it....
[she's from NJ and NY.]

Brian Dean Bollman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Dean Bollman said...

Hi Kate,

It is a sad state of affairs when anyone has to feel uncomfortable with what they are by birth, whether it is her race, or ethnicity, or something else over which she has no control. I understand how you could feel uncomfortable about your "whiteness", because I sometimes hear people make comments conflating "whiteness" with bad things like racism, and our nation's history could be seen to justify that conflation. But I think it is worth fighting against that conflation, not only to avoid the discomfort with our "whiteness" (which can't be good for us) but also because passing judgement on an entire race is a terrible and dangerous practice--isn't this practice at the very foundation of ethnic warfare?.

R.E. "white" ethnicities:

People from Norway, Hungary, Turkey, Ireland, or Serbia may speak different languages, use different scripts, practice different religions, and have different customs, but the minute they set foot in the United States, they are all lumped together as "white" (as in the U.S. census) What does this say about how we percieve race and ethnicity?

some thoughts

--Brian

rozydesouza said...

great ..thanks for sharing.....


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Rozydesouza
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