If you’re not my enemy, then you’re my friend, right? The white misperception of racial crossing

Whites–especially whites of my generation or slightly older–were explicitly taught (as kids and sometimes as adults) that there are no differences between racial groups; that all racial groups are friends; that it’s a small world after all. Our celebrities held concerts encouraging us to donate money to starving children in Africa, because, “We are the world.” We were promised a future of inter-racial harmony, where racial differences meant nothing more than liking tacos or needing less sunscreen.

Whites often fail at being racially inclusive, but they generally believe that they should be.

So it is generally with some surprise that whites learn that other people do not think the same thing about them. That a white person who marries a black person, attends a black college, dresses/styles her hair like black people, and devotes her life to the advancement of black causes might actually get rejected by other black people just because she isn’t black. Whites who have an interest in American Indian things, particularly religion, have another fine line to walk. You may watch respectfully, but you cannot join.

Some religions are very open to converts; Christianity in particular. Christians have trouble understanding that other religions might not be open to converts; other people might not want them.

As I see it, there are two main reasons to police the boundaries of a group: either because there are some benefits associated with being part of the group, like getting a job because you graduated from a particular school; or because you really hate people not in your group, like feminists who hate men so much they won’t let trans* folk into their gatherings.

Both of these notions go against white expectations. The anti-racist ideology teaches that there aren’t benefits associated with being non-white (that’s why it’s called white privilege, not black privilege,) and our generally cheerful assumption that we are all supposed to be friends, regardless of race.


6 thoughts on “If you’re not my enemy, then you’re my friend, right? The white misperception of racial crossing

  1. Ironically they go searching for these other tribes precisely because their all-inclusive culture gave them no identity of their own.
    Their non-culture tells them that identity is fluid, a great lie. In the real world, people tend to assort roughly by ethnicity and relatedness.


    • I think it’s part that, and part natural curiosity about the world/others–the same curiosity that drives them to map rivers and climb mountains and send robots to take pictures of Mars drives them to want to know what it really means to be a Bushman or Navajo or an 18th century countess.

      I have another post planned on the void left by lacking self-identity.


  2. I think trust plays a big part. Most non-whites are taught from birth to not trust others, and that’s a good evolutionary strategy, it avoids being ripped off by other tribes. White people aren’t taught that, in fact we’re taught the opposite, to trust anyone who comes along. This also works fine to a point, like when the people “who come along” are also white. When they’re Jews or Muslims, you get the world we now live in. Low trust, high crime and increasing poverty. Whites either need to stop trusting, which won’t happen, or stop immigration, which also probably won’t happen, or become an increasing minority in their own lands subjected to ever increasing victimisation from non-whites, and sadly that’s the likely outcome from where I’m viewing things.


    • I was taught “stranger danger” from birth, but I was emphatically taught that all strangers were equally dangerous. Whereas some non-whites I have known have recounted being explicitly taught to fear outsiders, eg, a parent quizzing their kid on what to grab while fleeing if the neighbors decide to burn down their house. That seemed like the kind of thing that might fuck up a kid. (Of course, if I taught my kids that, I’d be a psycho hate monger or something.)

      Jews I have known personally have honestly been kinder and more trustworthy toward me than most other groups. Most Muslims I have encountered have not been. Last I checked, the out-breeding rate among American Jews was around 50%, while 55% of married Pakistanis in Britain are married to their first cousins. Apples and oranges.


  3. […] A complicating wrinkle of uncomplicating insight via two images: Nature Observations, The Spoils, If you’re not my enemy, then you’re my friend, right? The white misperception of racial crossing, The “Other” is but a Foil for the Self, Now that gay marriage is the law of the land, everyone […]


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