Monday, October 19, 2009

What Nationalities Are You?

White-Checking In American Culture
By Brianna Savoca

Tune in to the typical dating show on MTV, and there seems to be an abundant question blind daters ask each other- "What nationalities are you?"

To be specific, this question is usually asked by stereotypically White blind daters to mainly White or possibly multi-racial individuals.

Personally, I have been asked this question by every person I have been on a date with. I have always dated White men, so I have to wonder what sparked their curiosity regarding my race. Oftentimes, I am asked if I am Asian in ethnicity, so this question never surprises me. Still, I have to wonder why my ethnicity makes a difference.

While it may sound primal, were the men I have dated White-checking a potential mate? Do all races race-check potential mates?

My definition of White-checking would be the behavior of Whites filtering Whites from non-Whites through a physical, social, and intellectual categorizing process to determine who is White, and therefore acceptable to socially interact with.

According to Critical Race Theorists, Whites often display White-checking behavior unknowingly because being "White" is the dominant form of behavior in our society. As Critical Race Theorist Charles Mills says, Whites are ignorant and do not see their privilege. Therefore, Americans live in a society infiltrated by White supremacy, so unless something is blatantly non-White, we accept it as normal.

This theory is further reinstated by Ian F. Henry Lopez, another Critical Race Theorist. Lopez says, "White supremacy makes Whiteness the normative model. Being the norm allows Whites to ignore race, except when they perceive race as intruding on their lives."

Why might someone feel White-checking is important, without even realizing they are white checking?

Lopez says Whites realize the benefits of being White on a subconscious level, and Whites recognize the burdens of being Black or non-White. Therefore, on an animalistic and simple logical reasoning level, Whites would want their children to be White and receive the same benefits.

Is this the right mentality? Is the behavior of White-checking racist? Does anyone have examples of White-checking or race-checking in relationships?

While this may sound extremely barbaric, doesn't breeding White with Whites, Black with Blacks, etc. perpetuate the systems of dominance and oppression, as well as maintain White supremacy in our society? Would increased inter-breeding solve the problem?

Lopez and Mills both offer solutions to racism has a whole.

Mills believes Whites need to be aware and informed of the "Racial Contract" and the privileges they receive simply for being White and the oppressive repercussions of White privilege. After being fully informed, Whites can choose to decline White privilege or embrace it, thus perpetuating racism.

Lopez suggests dismantling Whiteness as a solution to racism. Lopez says if Whites must be cognizant of their daily actions and privilege, recognize the consequences of giving up their privileges, and then must embark on a daily process of choosing against Whiteness.

Is there a solution to racism? Perhaps one small step would be to end White-checking, and the perpetuation of White supremacy. Instead of worrying about the race of your significant other, maybe it would be better to focus on their personality, intelligence, and whether or not you can have a time-withstanding relationship without ending in a bitter divorce.

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