Defining Whiteness: What white culture is and how it evolved

Armani Jackson, Co-Editor-in-Chief 

White culture is ambiguous. Depending on who’s asked, the responses vary somewhere between “white people have no culture,” and “white people need to be preserved.” At Pierce, white culture is the most representative as 53.7 percent of students are white as of fall 2015.

But to fully immerse myself in this culture I should first have a solid definition of white culture. In short, most whites are European. To most people, white or not, white people don’t have a culture because it’s not something they identify with. After countless interviews with white supremacists, students of color, white students and internet research about white culture since December, I’m still clueless. White culture is a convoluted and complex issue that no one can explain. There’s no music, food or clothing exclusive to them that’s not a stereotype. The key to unlocking white culture is learning that white people have made their own by stealing from others while at the same time using what they know from Europe.

For Black Student Union President Victoria Miles, white isn’t a race. It’s more of a melting pot of Europeans who came to America to throw away their ethnic identities to be elevated to a certain standard in the current society. White culture doesn’t have much to it simply because there isn’t one.

“In every facet of black life, for example when we look at beauty standards, people might not think this is a form of white supremacy,” Miles said. “Racism is white supremacy. I don’t know why people try to differentiate. That’s what it is. When you look at beauty standards, whiteness is leveled at that’s the up, and we’re down here. Like hiring standards too. Who are the people hiring you? Who do you work with, what’s the racial makeup? When you’re black, you’re seen as that token.”

However, this isn’t a common view for everyone. Founder and editor of American Renaissance Jared Taylor feels strongly that whites need to be preserved and aren’t recognizing that they’re in danger of extinction. American Renaissance considers themselves to be the Internet’s premier race-realist site, according to their website. This publication is seen as promoting white nationalism, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center where they state, “But, regardless of its calm tone and academic look and feel, the magazine openly peddles white nationalism and Taylor supports the idea of America as ‘a self-consciously European, majority-white nation.’”

“White culture is anything that finds itself in the European continent,” Taylor said. “The white race is four, five, maybe even up to seven different human races with its own distinctive history and quantities. It’s very clear that they (races) aren’t (equal and interchangeable). Different races build different societies. I happen to like the societies the whites build. I think it’s natural that people have a preference for their own race and the culture that has grown out of that.”

Taylor said affirmative action is used to discriminate against whites. His example was if a student was applying to Harvard, your chances of getting in are much better if you’re black. This is because the selective schools are using it to prove that they’re not racist (because they have good racial diversity) even if it means they have to turn away better qualified whites or Asians.

“I think it’s unfair,” Taylor said. “Asians are vastly overrepresented on elite campuses because they get the highest test scores and they get the best grades. Is it true? That’s the point. Do they or don’t they get the highest test scores? They do. Do they or don’t they get the highest grades? They do. I mean, you want a stereotype, it’s a fact.”

To him, whites need to recognize that they’re being shoved aside as the world becomes more diverse, and they need to do something about it. However, if they were to do something, they’d be considered a racist.

“In the 21st century, whites are finally waking up to the fact that every other racial group acts together to advance its own interests,” Taylor said. “Whites are being shoved aside both demographically and culturally and in every other way. This is something that whites are finally waking up to, and you see this all around the world. Whites have never been asked, ‘Do you want to be a minority in your own country?’ But now anyone who would prefer to live in majority white neighborhood is a wicked, horrible racist.”

A key facet of white culture is the alt-right movement that was brought to light after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. In short, it’s a movement to preserve the white race.

“It’s a racial-conscious movement,” Taylor said. “It’s a recognition that whites do have legitimate group interests. Up until now, and still, if a group organizes to discuss the interest of whites, they’re considered hate mongers or white supremacists

Nobody is explicitly on the lookout for the whites. I think, ultimately, a multiracial country is asking for trouble. Homogeneous countries are much more healthy. We made a terrible mistake bringing by blacks and other races (in). It brings more conflict and tension.”

Miles has an opposing view of white preservation. To her, it involves status and the power whites have in American society.

“What are they trying to achieve with white preservation is what I want to know besides racist ideals and continuing that?” Miles said. It makes it sound like white people are going extinct, like it’s something so precious. It plays into how they don’t like racial mixing. 

You want to preserve whites, so you’re against people not having (multiracial) relationships? That in itself is racist. I think there’s not only a status issue, but a power issue and privilege issue. Because if you’re able to preserve that, you’re able to continue systems that are affecting people of color.”

BSU’s Vice President Shakita Etheridge expressed a similar viewpoint.

“It sounds like they want to put them in like a little zoo and contain them and make sure nothing happens to them,” Etheridge said. “I honestly think keeping white preservation is keeping that status (alive).”

A common denominator between the views is that most white people are European. It’s whether white people have accomplished good things where the opinions differ. But if I have learned anything from this experience, it’s that white supremacists don’t recognize themselves as such and tend to contradict themselves in their arguments. The world is becoming more diverse and not everyone is ready for that to happen.

“When white people are asked to celebrate diversity, they’re asked to celebrate increasing numbers of people unlike themselves,” Taylor said. “Which is crazy when you think about it. Why should white have to celebrate their declining numbers and dwindling influence?”

YouTuber European Resistance Media is a little more torn on the topic of white culture. His thoughts on the white race matches Miles, but then turn into an opinion closer to Taylor’s.

“‘White’ is just a colour (sic), it has no meaning attached to it. What I am is a European. But, for the purpose of this article, I will forget about that. Our ancestors were conquerors and explorers, a race that took Africa, the Americas and South Asia out of savagery and introduced them to modernity, our impact in those regions will last forever. True whiteness is about being the best of who you can be, and progressing until you are the dominant force in nature. In the past half – century, whiteness has been corrupted, we have been demonised (sic), blamed for all the problems in the world and our traditions, cultures and nations have been almost destroyed by the global establishment. Jewish academics and self-hating White people claim that whiteness is just a social construct, but I assure you, whiteness is very real, and in the next decade, white people will awaken to who they truly are.”

Even with everything that’s going on in the community, Pierce is working on becoming a more diverse and inclusive campus.

“If you look at as who are drawing from, what our general community looks like, our generally community is just under 79 percent white,” Chancellor Michelle Johnson said. “Yet, the Puyallup campus is only 51.9 percent white.”

When asked why Pierce is more diverse, she said one reason may be the fact that the college is attracting students from other communities. Another reason could be that Pierce is focusing a lot of time on equity.

They’re working hard, but the fact is that they’ll never make Pierce more diverse. Equity and diversity is one of the core values of the college, yet it seems like the only people who know about those values and actually work towards them is administration.

Puyallup, South Hill and the schools they’re pulling from are mostly white. There’s nothing they can do about that. To fix the campus, they first must fix the greater community which is a feat no one here gets paid enough to do. Plus, this isn’t a part of Achieving the Dream so administration will find some excuse to slide pass this incredibly concerning problem. They can’t and won’t shift their focus from anything but making the college look good no matter how much they try to convince us otherwise.

The systems in place were made to benefit the people, yet they don’t. By addressing the real issues, no one will get promoted and the college won’t make money because this isn’t and will never be the plan. They should instead spend more time and money helping the students of other races that are already present on campus. They need to have resources available to help them feel safe and appreciated in this all white community. Students who aren’t white won’t make it through because Pierce’s administration isn’t and can’t cater to their needs. The good news is that per the U.S. census in 2010, South Hill is 78.2 percent white which means that Pierce is more diverse than the surrounding community.

These issues don’t seem to impact white students as much since they live in a majority white area.

“Honestly, I don’t really think about it,” student Wesley Bergman said. “My girlfriend just happened to live in this area when I moved in with her. After living here for awhile, I did start to notice that a majority of the population here are your typical middle class white people though. I’m usually shunned, to my delight, by these type of people because I don’t fit into that mold. Racism is definitely still prevalent these days, but it’s not restricted to any one race.”

The bottom line, is that these are tough issues to address in a community where people don’t care, or take notice as much because it’s predominantly white.

There’s a lot the college thinks they’re doing but can’t achieve simply because of the love of a positive reputation.

White culture is something that can’t be learned about in the span of a few months, rather you have to be born into it in order to grasp it. Especially in a predominately white community, my experience as a black woman wasn’t that good. Puyallup is a very passive aggressive community and Pierce kind of absorbed that attitude. Trying to assimilate the entirety of a culture that doesn’t exist to white people, but simultaneously does to someone of color. It’s an aggravating enigma. If anything came of this experience, it’s more hate from white people.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost

Armani Jackson
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Armani Jackson

Co-Editor-in-Chief at The Puyallup Post
My name is Armani Jackson and I have the privilege to return as Co-Editor-in-chief for my second year working on the newspaper. Last year was an emotional roller coaster as I learned how to balance all my responsibilities but now I come back with an even stronger determination to serve the students here at Pierce. In June, I’ll be ecstatic as I walk on stage to accept my degree in Database Management, two certificates, one in Business Analysis and one in software development along with my high school diploma. I’m excited to deepen my relationships with those who I already have come to know, and cultivate new ones with those i have not yet has the pleasure of acquainting. I aspire to one day be a data-driven journalist, combining my two favorite yet oddly separated passions: IT and journalism. Here’s to the trials we’ve faced and the tribulations coming. I’m ready, are you?
Armani Jackson
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Armani Jackson

My name is Armani Jackson and I have the privilege to return as Co-Editor-in-chief for my second year working on the newspaper. Last year was an emotional roller coaster as I learned how to balance all my responsibilities but now I come back with an even stronger determination to serve the students here at Pierce. In June, I’ll be ecstatic as I walk on stage to accept my degree in Database Management, two certificates, one in Business Analysis and one in software development along with my high school diploma. I’m excited to deepen my relationships with those who I already have come to know, and cultivate new ones with those i have not yet has the pleasure of acquainting. I aspire to one day be a data-driven journalist, combining my two favorite yet oddly separated passions: IT and journalism. Here’s to the trials we’ve faced and the tribulations coming. I’m ready, are you?

Defining Whiteness: What white culture is and how it evolved

by Armani Jackson time to read: 8 min
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