Is There Such a Thing as 'White Culture'?

by Christine DeSadeleer Sep 25, 2009
Is culture still based on race, or has the world intermingled to the point that culture is based more on place?

Photo: annnna.

We previously talked at BNT about what it might mean when white people take on heritages other than their own.

But I found dialogue on Reddit that delves into an area where we just scratched the surface. Someone posed the question, “What is white culture?”

The purpose and responses of that post happens to be about Glenn Beck’s comment that Obama has “hatred for white people or the white culture.”

Some of the readers believe Beck’s statement essentially implies that white culture is American, Christian and conservative. Other people say that there is no such thing as white culture, that culture in fact comes from:

Where you live, how you were raised, and the collective traditions, beliefs, and prejudices of the people around you.

What is Culture?

While making fun of white people can be well, funny, it got me thinking, is the term “white culture” even valid in the world? I’m taking this question beyond the borders of the US and even other white-majority countries.

Does being born white in Africa mean that a person is culturally linked to someone in Canada? Probably not, unless their family came from there.

But what if you paired the UK and the US, who share a language (minus accents), cultural heritage, and at least on a world stage, have remained political allies? Does the rest of the world think there exists, to some extent, a culture of shared whiteness between the two?

I can think of a lot of people from both the UK and the US who would not concur, though I can see how people in other parts of the world very much connect the two.

Place is also key – where you settle often ends up being the “culture” you take on.

But I’m not sure if at this point in history, we can say that culture is at all based on race. While for some cultures, such as the Aboriginal people and South Asians, a large percentage of the people are still not of mixed races, on the whole, our world has intermeshed in a big way.

And place is also key – where you settle often ends up being the “culture” you take on.

This is not to say that culturally-based racism isn’t alive and thriving, or that keeping cultural history alive is not important; far from it. It is only to say that I’m not sure definitive lines can be placed according to race any longer.

And I’m not sure that we should ever listen to anything Glenn Beck has to say. But really, that’s another point entirely.

Do you think there is such a thing as “white” culture? Share your thoughts below.

Community Connection

Check out Matador Night’s Editor Kate Sedgewick’s piece White Privilege – Can You See it? to test your view of whiteness throughout the world. Don’t forget to read Buster’s illuminating piece (and the comments that came with it) about racism in Russia: Should People of Color Go To Russia?

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