I have been told my entire life that I am
Just like my friends descended from the Celts, Angles, Saxons, Franks, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Slavs and Lombards, my Norse/Swede ancestry makes me white.
Our predecessors, at one time or another, came out of a box about 30 degrees tall and 40 degrees wide.
Somewhere along the line they came to America. Eventually the reference to national origin disappeared. Eventually they became a skin color.
White became a race.
What is important about
white is not what it is, because seriously, what is white? What are the vibrant attributes of white culture? What makes us who we are? What does the third-generation Italian-American kid have in common with the white man whose ancestors came here from England four hundred years ago?
What’s important about
white is not what it is, but what it isn’t. It isn’t colored. It’s not black, brown, red or yellow. It isn’t Other. It isn’t one of a number of minorities whose defining trait from the majority’s perspective is “not white.”
This made-up race somewhere along the way picked up the power and a knapsack full of privilege. Once upon a time it might have mattered if someone’s ancestors drank scotch or vino, but now it’s a big open bar for anyone who has been here long enough to lose an accent and blend in with their pale camouflage.
white person has it easy. Of course not. White people are not inherently bad. Of course not. And I’m not calling for all white people to make this change either. I won’t vilify you for continuing to call yourself white.
But I’ve seen enough. And I don’t want any more of it. I don’t want to be identified with a race that has no defining characteristics except for a lack of color. I don’t want to toss myself in with the misnomer of Caucasian. I don’t want to presume my place in society as being one different from the black, brown, red, and yellow people. I won’t enter into majority ownership of a country that values some of its colors over others. I will not allow my perception of myself as a member of the false majority to make people of color into Others.
If you want to call this a petty semantic change, go ahead. And, of course, I know people will still see me as a
white man. I will still be treated as a white man and receive those privileges.
But I will not call myself that anymore, so far as I am able.
I am Scandinavian-American. I am an image of God born in the United States of America, and that is where I live now. Sometime in the nineteenth century my ancestors came here from Scandinavia, and now my blood is mostly Swedish and Norwegian, with a hint of German and a family theory about Plains Indian.
Maybe you wonder what good it does to call myself this. What does that actually mean for my identity?
Not a lot, actually. I don’t have a lot of connection to Scandinavia other than the occasional batch of lefse and a rare sample of lutefisk.
This means you will have to find out some things about me that go beyond an approximation of skin color.
White doesn’t mean anything, so it will be tough for Scandinavian-American to mean any less.
I will promote the beautiful struggle of building identity out of the paradox of being African and American, the alienated state of Hispanic immigrants, and the sequestered Asian communities. And hopefully I can expose the sickly decay of the cultures from whence
white people came as being what is freakish.
I won’t ignore differences. I will continue to celebrate them. I will appreciate the diversity of cultures throughout this country, some of which follow along color lines. I will endorse authentic roots back to
white countries of Europe and encourage their renewal and rediscovery. I will promote finding identity in things that cross color-lines, race, ethnicity, and nations of origin. I call for love of human beings.
I will not subscribe to a culture/race/society/ethnicity that defines itself with an arbitrary word that forms an in-group alliance and makes people of color the Other. I want no part of the ignorance, hate, selfishness, theft, and deceit that spawns from a false coalition. I don’t want it. I want out.
I’m coloring outside the lines. I’m trading colorlessness and color-blindness for a full spectrum.
I am not
I’m a son, brother, Christian, friend, student. I’m a Writestafari Shaman, Zen Basketball Monk, Progressive Dadaist, Macho Feminist, Cultural Provocateur, Establishment Saboteur, and Eloquent Mumbler. And so much more.
Including, if you really must know my race:
Soli Deo Gloria