Glen Beck & “White Culture”

Why is it so hard for Beck to define White culture – especially when he says Obama has a hatred of it?

What is “White culture”?

My personal take is that there is “White culture” just like there is “Black culture”. But just as within Black culture, White culture is not monolithic, nor should everyone who is White be stereotyped into a rigid Whiteness.*

An interesting characterization of “White culture” -in the shallow expression of culture** – is the Stuff White People Like Blog and the subsequent book Stuff White People Like: The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions. If you haven’t seen either they both contain a list of things that typically White people enjoy: farmer’s markets; bookstores; wine tasting; etc (Our of Ur and Urban Faith posted a interesting article about the potential of small groups being a White Christian thing.)

I actually don’t like the book/website because it is limited and Lander, the creator, is making misinformed generalizations. It is really only touching on one section of White America. I think about lower-class Whites, or blue-collar Whites, or inner-city Whites, or rural Whites, the book/website it isn’t really stuff “White” people like, it is stuff a certain level of educated and socialized White like.

But there is something important in the book/website. It affirms that there is a culture typical to Whites – more appropriately various White cultures within a boarder American experience. White folks who deny that they have a culture and assume that  their actions are universally normal hinder actual multiculturalism, diversity and reconciliation because that perspective naturally color-blinds the world.

But again, it is also dangerous to ignore the diversity within Black and White folks  – as well as Asians, Latinos etc.  We literally make things black and white and don’t examine the variations and blending. So many Black folks have to fight the assumption that we ALL like, fried chicken, rap, baggy jeans, the N-word, basketball etc. and fight Being called “White” when we don’t like those things or happen to like NPR. Also, some white folks fight being called a “wigger” ( a common expression I heard when growing up) when they are genuinely a child of Hip Hop culture.

So I return to the original question, what is “White Culture”?

*The conversation is beyond just  Black/White – but Beck’s comments and interaction with the issue of culture was/is mainly Black/White.

**There are deeper culture values that are help differently in different cultures (i.e. preception of eldery, perception of time, gender roles, role of religion etc.). These are perhaps the real difference that divide folks. Which is why people of different ethnicities seem to be able to increasingly feel capable of working together – a fairly shallow exercise – but struggle with worshiping  and living together.

    • Joey
    • December 2nd, 2009

    I wonder how much the development of any culture is more determined by socio-economic conditions as opposed to race? Race often times correlates with socio-economic conditions for a multitude of reasons, racism included, but much of culture seems to emerge from within social groups (often times determined by race and proximity). Thoughts?

    • I think they cross -as you suggested. An affluent African-American community shares traits of both an affluent white community and other African-American communities. I think of suburban Atlanta There are affluent African-American suburbs and they have this culture that is both African-American and affluent. They “do” church like other African-Americans in the music, style etc, but they also look like Euro-American affluent Megachurches in the structure of the building – thus their values – the role of music, role of the service etc. There is also the aspect of geography that crosses affluent southern Euro-Americans are similar but not the same as affluent northern Euro Americans or affluent western Euro-Americans.

      I think what matters is the degree of separation of society places between cultural groups. The more separation the more unique a cultural group – but this can be mediated by the attitudes of the cultural group and if that group is untied by core beliefs not a social delineation or shallow likeness.

      Religiously think about how the evangelical sub-culture gained so much strength; leaders and parents began to pull children out of school and create religious enclaves, thus the evangelical Christian cultured boomed. Conversely, liberal and mainstream Christians have been more integrated and that culture has somewhat faded (partly due to the evangelical subculture’s strength). Perhaps one of the reason’s many Evangelical Christians look so much like the non-evangelicals and non-Christians is because so much of the group was formed through, mass evangelism rather than uniting over core beliefs of what is means to be Christians (also maybe that is why there has been the Evangelical Manifesto and the Manhattan document in the past two years, people are trying to unite over something essential rather than an ambiguous evangelicalism).

      But even so these are just elements, because there are theologically similar Christians who are very different because of where they live – which is again another element of separation (but not a bad one if not forced).

      Wow, that was a lot. Sorry I just wrote everything that came to mind. feel free to critique.

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