Social Question

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Who do you consider to be white people?

Asked by Imadethisupwithnoforethought (14625points) December 28th, 2012

I am of Irish descent. My family history is full of horrible tales of discrimination. When I am talking with other people of fair skin, they complain to me about Latinos and Blacks.

I am curious now. Who do you consider to be white people? Who are these people? Are you one of these people? Who is in the club with you?

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41 Answers

JenniferP's avatar

I have a little Laplander and Eskimo in me so I am not sure if that means that I am not 100% white or not.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@JenniferP do you think of yourself as a white person?

JenniferP's avatar

Yes, I think of myself as white and I am. I don’t have that much of those two things in me. But my grandpa did look very similar to the Laplanders of Finland. I just recently found out about the Eskimo.

jca's avatar

I am whiter than white but my daddy is from Mexico. Jellies who know me on FB know that I am truly a white person and most people are surprised when they hear that I am part Mexican, especially after they make derogatory comments about Mexicans. I am being a bit facetious when I say he is Mexican, because his family is Castillian, so they are actually white, too, and not what is commonly thought of inthe United States as “Mexican.” He is from Mexico, however, so he is Mexican, technically.

I used to have an Irish boyfriend, and on St. Patrick’s Day, I would tell people (people who would inevitably ask “Are you Irish?”) “I’m not Irish but my boyfriend is, so you might say that sometimes I have a little Irish in me.”

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

Someone who has the ancestrial heritage of Caucasian races.

If you want to know what’s white look at a job application (where they say race doesn’t matter) it asks if you are Caucasian “or” and then look at the list. If you don’t see yourself on the “or list” chances are you’re white.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@Self_Consuming_Cannibal that is what I am digging for. I have a lot more in common with a migrant farmer from Mexico than I do from an immigrant whose family came over from the mayflower. And honestly, my coloration is similar to a Spaniard. Am I white in the same way somebody in America defines white or am I not?

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought I really wish I could be more helpful. But in my opinion what I think is important is who you are. I am white and damn proud of it, but my parents didn’t raise me to be a good white person, they just raised me to be a good person. Good luck on your quest though, I wish you well.

wundayatta's avatar

In the US, you get to decide your race for yourself. You can be more than one race if you want to be. Most of us choose our race on many forms, but the only place we have to choose, by law, is on the Census form.

The only place where your race gets chosen for you is if you are in prison.

After that, it is what people see of you socially. The pictures in the avatars of both @Imadethisupwithnoforethought and @Self_Consuming_Cannibal look white to me. But both of you have scary names. So I would be wary around you both, no matter what your faces look like in reality.

woodcutter's avatar

According to the ATF form 4473, I am white as well as anyone who looks similar to me. There is no Irish choice so they would have to STFU and check “White”

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@woodcutter My family is all immigrants and former indentured servants. Are you comfortable with me being white?

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

@wundayatta I don’t know if what you said about being wary around me because of my name was a joke or not, but the meaning of my name is actually a statement about me (and people in general) being my (or their) own worst enemy.

What does your name mean?

woodcutter's avatar

My family is from Quebec/ NH which makes me part Abnaki and Frenchman and I’m cool with that. Why would I not be with you?

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@woodcutter No hard feelings but I guess that is the difference. At my father’s funeral there was a black bugler and he insisted someone of Japanese descent do the eulogy.

He told me embrace of the new was how you marked a man. Comfort in the familiar is how you identify a coward.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
lillycoyote's avatar

I don’t really consider it one way or another. I mean obviously, some people are really white looking and some people are not really white looking at all, but “race” doesn’t really exist, in biological terms.

I don’t know how to answer this, really. I am certainly “white,” by any definition of the term, but I certainly can’t say that I consider “these people” white and “those people” not white.

Humans are so mixed, it terms of the way we all look. And that’s what “race” is about: how we look. It is pretty much, only skin deep.

linguaphile's avatar

I look “white” but have Native American blood. I don’t feel like I have enough Native American in me and am not culturally Native American, so I never check that box on forms.

I think skin tone’s one factor, but not the only one—there’s also the cultural inclination. When I taught in Tucson, most of my students were Mexicans, but more than half of them were Castillian looking, like @jca mentioned, and would’ve been perceived as white elsewhere in the country.

AshLeigh's avatar

Anyone who acts like the kids on “whitest kids you know”?

Shippy's avatar

It’s an interesting question. When apartheid existed here in S.Africa, the race classification was very strict obviously. I get confused when people in the US say __people of color__. In those days, we had black, white and colored. Colored being mixed race. If you were Asian you were classified as Asian, but had the same laws as black people.

We obviously had Italians and Brazilians living here. They would have been classified as white. If I am not mistaken. Although I have no idea why.

Some people I know are quite rigid, and would classify Italians, Latinos and so on as black or colored. Where Latinos and Brazilian women are revered else where in the world not so much here. (Well, in those days). Simply because we have so many mixed races our people look very much like that come to think of it! But I only answered this because I lived in an apartheid country most of my life and that was unreal if I think back.

bucko's avatar

Anyone with a light complexion that can’t dance.

rebbel's avatar

Barry White

dxs's avatar

I thought a “white” person was a person who has a European heritage. But what about Arabic people?

Blackberry's avatar

People with the typically “white” skin, lol. But the term “white” isn’t an accurate indicator of anything because there are white people from all over the place. Are we talking about people from the Nordic countries? And if so, what country and region and culture are they from etc?

It’s a big mess so we just use terms like white, black, arab, european etc. I guess.

starsofeight's avatar

Every one is white, it is just that some people have more hope than others of becoming still whiter.

bookish1's avatar

This thread is funny.

oratio's avatar

On Laplanders. In Scandinavia you can’t really see it see it on people if they are Sami or Laplanders, as they are pretty much mixed with Swedes and Norwegians. Often they are as blue eyed and blond as anyone. But I think being Sami is primarily about culture and tradition rather than what you look like. Not sure about if there is a difference when it comes to Finland.

The more I write on this topic (below) the less I seem to have an idea of what makes up ‘white’, or why it would be important. Sweden is an emerging immigration country, since long passed several countries of the EU, like e.g. the UK. It’s not obvious what a Swede looks like today, but nationalism and racism has made it into politics of many European countries, and Sweden is no exception, with a nationalist party making up about 10 % of popular support. But we are mixing, and a lot of phenotypes of more or less exotic origin is becoming normal on the streets.

I am definitely white, about as white as one can be I think. I have some German blood in me, as many Swedes do. My son is also half Latvian. Mostly these days, when I meet people I don’t much pay attention on how dark or light a persons complexion is. I think that most people have prejudice about different cultures and countries. I know that I do, due to assumption and misconception. A friend of mine from Nigeria, has a lot of ideas on how white people are, just by being white. Then again his land was made unarable(sp?) by white oil companies.

One thing I might never really understand is the American one-drop rule of being African American. I think that Rashida Jones for instance, seem to be just a white person, and would unlikely be called black in Sweden, but could reference to some African blood if it were to come up. But then, I consider Obama black, although he is half white. I dated an Egyptian girl for a while, and she was darker, but I never felt there was a difference about that. There were other differences though, like she wanting to break things.

I think that roots are very important, but heritage might be important in another way in the US with it’s history of immigration, than other countries, and European countries obviously don’t have the slave stigmatization around an African background, although many countries participated in the slave trade, Scandinavia as well.

A childhood friend of mine who is an adopted Thai with very dark skin, had his second child just yesterday, where the mother is golden blond and blue eyed. The older sister has very fair skin but also very SE Asian eyes and black hair. Dunno what to call that. Swedish I guess.

JenniferP's avatar

@oratio Yes, now the Laplanders or Sami look like everyone else. But in my grandfather’s time they weren’t as mixed. They had a kind of Asian look to them with broad foreheads, high cheekbones, slanted eyes. There was speculation that they came from Mongolia but there is a lot of debate.

oratio's avatar

@JenniferP I know nothing about the Sami of Finland. I am sure you are correct.

ucme's avatar

Nascar fans..white trash ;¬}

tinyfaery's avatar

My mother.

gasman's avatar

My ancestors were Ashkenazi Jews living in the Russian empire (what’s now Belarus and Lithuania). We are considered white – any ethnic minority status is independent of skin color, though there are some dark-skinned Sephardic Jews of north African ancestry.

cazzie's avatar

@JenniferP the traits you speak of with Laplanders/Sami, are noticeable here in Norway, but also there are many that, to me, appear indistinguishable, physically, from other Scandinavians.

Blondesjon's avatar

<— White People

don’t belive me? watch me dance.

wundayatta's avatar

Shit! I can dance. Does that mean I’m not white? And if not, what race am I?

Also, I know a lot of black people who can’t dance. Just sayin’.

Blondesjon's avatar

@wundayatta . . . you’re safe. if there was anybody out there, besides stephen hawking, that is whiter than me, well, it would be you.

wundayatta's avatar


Not that I would mind being any other race, especially since I know it is a purely social construct, and not anything scientific.

CWOTUS's avatar

I don’t complain about races. I bitch sometimes about specific people and specific behaviors, but I try mightily to not attribute those specific behaviors to an entire race, class or culture.

When I fill out forms that ask “Race”, I try to select “Native American” if it’s available. Both branches of my family have been on this continent for over 300 years, so I think I should qualify by now.

burntbonez's avatar

Race is a matter of perception that takes into account speech habits, personal habits, food habits, education as well as skin color. It is also based on prevailing values in a culture. We know it when we see it, but some people are confusing.

A colleague of mine seemed either African-American or Indian-American. She’d straightened her hair and her eyes and lips could have fit in either group. She was beautiful, either way. A very smart young woman. She left to go to law school, and I never did find out.

I bet everyone could tell a story like that—a kind of confusion about race. It only matters because it matters in society. But we could easily get along without it, since race is not correlated with much of anything, universally. It is all dependent on local culture, and even then, we must be careful to remember that correlation is not causation. It is more likely that culture causes racial differences than race causes social differences.

hearkat's avatar

Genetically, I am caucasian: primarily descended from UK and Germanic people. I grew up in a neighborhood with a wide variety of ethnicities and religions represented, and so I never learned to consider anyone whose appearance was different than mine to be superior or inferior in any way.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I think most people consider “white” to be people with fair skin. That would make me white, even though I am mostly German and Cherokee Indian.

wundayatta's avatar

Genetically, @hearkat, you can not be distinguished from a Kenyan racer, as far as skin color is concerned. There is no genetic way to establish a person’s race. It is a purely social construct.

hearkat's avatar

@wundayatta – Perhaps not by today’s methods of testing, but it is in the DNA that I inherited from my pre-revolutionary New England WASP father’s family history, and my Swiss and German mother’s family history, that I was born blonde with blue-green eyes and I barely tanned even after laying in the sun slathered in baby oil for hours as a teenager.

Besides I thought I had heard that they do test people and can recognize markers from different regions of the world – such as African-Americans who want to know where their slave ancestors were taken from, or a friend whose grandmother was adopted from down-under and they told her that her DNA indicated non-Anglo markers, suggesting that she might have aboriginal ancestry and a mixed heritage might be why her grandmother was given up for adoption.

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