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Non-white people trying to be or act "white"


Alex Mercer
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Do you ever feel like people who are non white trying to fit in a western country feel like they have to put on a fake act of trying to be "white". I'm a non white person and I couldn't imagine myself working in an office or being in a meeting where professional white people are discussing things or even worse having an opinion expressed in front of them. But lucky the internet exists and seems to bring us all together to get a taste of what people can be like.

Some of my feelings towards this is instilled in me through my father who always talks about how this is a "white mans" world and we have to live like them in order to survive in this modern world.

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It’s called code switching. Everyone does it. Some people just have to unfortunately do it more than others to avoid senseless consequences. 

Sorry if you’ve felt the need to be inauthentic to fit in or avoid consequence. Not all white people are the same just like not all non-white people are the same. 

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I think socio economic status is the larger factor here. Poor white people are just as uncomfortable in rich white mens meetings or business environments. There's a reason only 4% of UK doctors are from a working class background.

Personally, i have far, far less in common with the likes of Boris Johnson than i do my Pakistani friends i went to school with and lived next door to, despite there being some real cultural differences between us.

Maybe the experience is different in the US?

It's perhaps a different thing if we are talking about someone migrating to a new country. If i migrated to China, India or Nigeria i would expect some pretty jarring cultural differences in the workplace that would likely impede my progression.

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7 hours ago, Alex Mercer said:

Do you ever feel like people who are non white trying to fit in a western country feel like they have to put on a fake act of trying to be "white". I'm a non white person and I couldn't imagine myself working in an office or being in a meeting where professional white people are discussing things or even worse having an opinion expressed in front of them. But lucky the internet exists and seems to bring us all together to get a taste of what people can be like.

Some of my feelings towards this is instilled in me through my father who always talks about how this is a "white mans" world and we have to live like them in order to survive in this modern world.

What does it mean to be "white"? 

I have friends of various ethnicities.  One friend told me he was chastised by his family for "speaking too white", and he "shouldn't forget where he came from".  He said he found the comments confusing.  

Overall I think this kind of racial framing is counterproductive. 

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4 hours ago, Prometheus said:

Maybe the experience is different in the US?

No, not at all. You nailed it. 

3 hours ago, Alex_Krycek said:

What does it mean to be "white"? <…> Overall I think this kind of racial framing is counterproductive. 

Exactly. QFT

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I think we're having a cultural crisis in the US, where too many people treat those who are different as a threat to their way of life, rather than as individuals the way they do with those who are more similar. We tend to have this blinkered, binary way of looking at problems, probably because of our binary political outlooks, and this spills over into other aspects of our lives. 

I think the problem gets compounded in white Americans because we're taught that leadership requires tenacity and spirit, that sheer will and determination and striving to do the right thing with confidence in your own capabilities will win the day and make you successful. And while that confidence seems great to the person who works hard to achieve it, it can also make that person steamroll over everybody else's objections and ideas. And as the OP mentions, if non-white people don't feel comfortable expressing a counter opinion, it tends to reinforce to the (oblivious?) white person that people agree with their leadership. Vicious circle. 

A long time ago, I worked in sales with a young Asian guy named Tony. Both of us were pretty good at the job, and got to become friends. His brother always dropped him off at work, but I found him walking home one day and he told me his family didn't have anyone to pick him up, so I offered to drive him home every day. Little by little, I found out his "family" lived in several apartments in a bigger complex they all owned. There were about thirty of them including cousins, and they lived and worked in shifts all day long, with one of the apartments set up with bunk beds everywhere for sleeping only. Another apartment was for socializing, and something wonderful was always cooking in the kitchen, 24 hours a day. Everyone gave their pay to the matron Aunt and everyone got taken care of. Tony kept telling me more because he could see I was amazed rather than appalled at the way he lived. I thought it sounded like an incredibly strong family environment, and the efficiency of their operation really appealed to me. But when a couple of other people we worked with found out about Tony's family, I saw the distaste on their faces, and realized many white Americans see cultural differences as cultural attacks. This has only gotten worse in my lifetime.

 

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4 hours ago, Prometheus said:

I think socio economic status is the larger factor here. Poor white people are just as uncomfortable in rich white mens meetings or business environments. There's a reason only 4% of UK doctors are from a working class background.

Personally, i have far, far less in common with the likes of Boris Johnson than i do my Pakistani friends i went to school with and lived next door to, despite there being some real cultural differences between us.

Maybe the experience is different in the US?

It's perhaps a different thing if we are talking about someone migrating to a new country. If i migrated to China, India or Nigeria i would expect some pretty jarring cultural differences in the workplace that would likely impede my progression.

No one is born a racist, but sometimes they're taught to hate...

Colour has little to do with it...

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10 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

No one is born a racist, but sometimes they're taught to hate...

It seems to me that some level of prejudice is actually something people are born with, however racism is a conscious decision to embrace and act on that unreasonable instinctual prejudice. 

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4 minutes ago, Bufofrog said:

It seems to me that some level of prejudice is actually something people are born with, however racism is a conscious decision to embrace and act on that unreasonable instinctual prejudice. 

a dash of spice, is a future investment ... Who knew???

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12 hours ago, Alex Mercer said:

Do you ever feel like people who are non white trying to fit in a western country feel like they have to put on a fake act of trying to be "white".

no. too much stupid or meaningless to me.


I'm a non white person and I couldn't imagine myself working in an office or being in a meeting where professional white people are discussing things or even worse having an opinion expressed in front of them.

meaningless.

But lucky the internet exists and seems to bring us all together to get a taste of what people can be like.

Some of my feelings towards this is instilled in me through my father who always talks about how this is a "white mans" world and we have to live like them in order to survive in this modern world.

stupid/illogical idea.

 

some other comments:

I had had a very nice friend whose skin was very dark black. Also, to me thinking the existence of significant difference between the acts of "white" and "non white" people/men is also illogical.

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43 minutes ago, Bufofrog said:

It seems to me that some level of prejudice is actually something people are born with, however racism is a conscious decision to embrace and act on that unreasonable instinctual prejudice. 

There is some evidence for this.  It's referred to as "in group, out group" behavior. Experiments have been done indicating that there is some default bias at work.  

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2 hours ago, Bufofrog said:

It seems to me that some level of prejudice is actually something people are born with, however racism is a conscious decision to embrace and act on that unreasonable instinctual prejudice. 

I look at the difference in terms of our human intelligence. We're still animals, so we're still hardwired to avoid becoming prey, so we look first for differences. But we should be intelligent enough to recognize the benefits of cooperation with other humans who can support our efforts, no matter how different they look. Ethnicity should only be a factor if it truly impacts what is being attempted. Racism is like choosing which tools are best for the job based on how good they look on your belt and how much they make you look like a contractor.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, dimreepr said:

No one is born a racist, but sometimes they're taught to hate...

does this sentence contain also something relevant to human destiny?

by the way, I disagree this idea.

Edited by ahmet
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51 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

I look at the difference in terms of our human intelligence. We're still animals, so we're still hardwired to avoid becoming prey, so we look first for differences. But we should be intelligent enough to recognize the benefits of cooperation with other humans who can support our efforts, no matter how different they look. Ethnicity should only be a factor if it truly impacts what is being attempted. Racism is like choosing which tools are best for the job based on how good they look on your belt and how much they make you look like a contractor.

Well, you do also have to add the fact that we still have a historic association with markers of race. Even if things like critical race theory are dismantling these notions, it would be silly to assume that they suddenly have gone. Plus, many political parties are still using it as a wedge issue, so in other words race assumptions still permeate and influence society beyond just individual experiences. 

8 hours ago, Prometheus said:

Personally, i have far, far less in common with the likes of Boris Johnson than i do my Pakistani friends i went to school with and lived next door to, despite there being some real cultural differences between us.

While that is true, there are also big differences depending on where you grow up, when folks have immigrated and so on. There can be a big difference between immigrants now, who are living in a generally more welcoming and accepting environment compared to, say First Nations folks or African Americans, who have experienced continued erasure of their identity and culture. It is easy to overlook those those issues if one does not experience them (heck, my immigration experience to Germany in the 80s was vastly different to what I am experiencing now), but they will still colour individual interactions.

Terms like white (or dominant culture) behaviour usually arises if folks create an identity in an area which they can control, i.e. which feels like themselves than something the dominant culture forces them to do. It happens usually if society is less inclusive and on the one hand forces an adherence to norms, but at the same time always finds gaps in the adherence to criticize (i.e. using the framework from OP one could say by being of certain ethnicity one might not be white enough). 

Again, on the individual level it is fairly easy to resolve, but projecting it on a societal level things get complicated.

 

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, Alex Mercer said:

Do you ever feel like people who are non white trying to fit in a western country feel like they have to put on a fake act of trying to be "white".

Perhaps "when in Rome, do what the Romans do" could apply? 

Many many years ago when I was a single hairy arse lad of around 22 years of age, I had my first over seas trip. It was to Fiji. Anyway after landing at Nadi and booking into the nearest Hotel, I did what any single young hairy arsed lad would do, I headed towards the bar and had my first Fiji Bitter. Anyway I got talking with a couple of Fijian boys about the same age who worked there and as we had more Fiji Bitter, they asked me if I would like to come back to their village close by, and experience the Fijian life style.

Next morning I then went with them back to their village. One of the boy's Father was the "Tui" or chief of the village and as per Fijian custom, I needed to present him with some yaqona [kava] for permission. The "sevusevu" or permission ceromony was simply a gathering of the Fijian household I was staying with [the Tui's] and friends, all sitting around on Ibe [Fijian mats] cross legged. Although seemingly because I was a Aussie white person I was offered a chair which I refused, and chose following the local tradition of sitting on the ibe cross legged drinking yaqona [kava] and fielding many questions about my home.

That same night after my two friends and others from the village, finished performing for the tourists at the hotel where I first met them, they put on a magiti [food feast] for me back at their village. The main course was fish and I noticed that they all chose to eat it without knife and fork, although a knife and fork was put in front of me but not the others. I chose not to use them and like my Fijian friends, used my fingers.

After a two week stay in the village, and before my return home, I expressed my gratitude to my two friends and the Tui and his family, by having another sevusevu, and showing my appreciation by presenting them with a couple of drums of kerosene, and local food stuffs and such.

many years later when I married a Fijian girl from the opposite side of the Island, I followed the same customs and procedures when the wife presented me to her village and family, and then again a couple of years later, when our Son was born and we went back to "present" him to the village. I even indulge in Fijian custom at home by relaxing in my sulu! [not all together an attractive sight! 😁]

I also have a few inigenous Aussies that I class as true friends...black, white, brindle or whatever...to quote a great American, "judge not by the colour of someone's skin, but by the content of their character" or words to that effect.

6 hours ago, dimreepr said:

No one is born a racist, but sometimes they're taught to hate...

Colour has little to do with it...

I agree, and an example of that can be found in a thread I started yesterday. It involves Professor Neil Degrasse Tyson commenting on a young girl of 13, calling an indigenous Aussie rules football player an Ape after he scored a goal....

 

Edited by beecee
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19 hours ago, ahmet said:

does this sentence contain also something relevant to human destiny?

Yes, human destiny is defined by human history; "if we don't learn from the past, we're doomed to repeat it."

19 hours ago, ahmet said:

by the way, I disagree this idea.

Care to elaborate?

23 hours ago, Bufofrog said:

It seems to me that some level of prejudice is actually something people are born with, however racism is a conscious decision to embrace and act on that unreasonable instinctual prejudice. 

Surely that's cultural? 

A wolf only hates a wolf when it's territory is threatened... 

When I was at school, we had one coloured student in my year; it never occurred to me that he was different...

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Yes, human destiny is defined by human history; "if we don't learn from the past, we're doomed to repeat it."

that is ok. but ..

 

25 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Care to elaborate?

yes , normally; yes we are being taught ...but not everything are geing provided from all of the external world. 

and not everything also being taught by education. (we do not learn everything , some types of information / instructions are ready already by the time we born) 

I mean we already know something when we born.

 

 

Edited by ahmet
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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, ahmet said:

that is ok. but ..

 

yes , normally; yes we are being taught ...but not everything are geing provided from all of the external world. 

and not everything also being taught by education. (we do not learn everything , some types of information / instructions are ready already by the time we born)

 

 

The only thing you haven't been taught, is what you teach yourself. 😉

Edited by dimreepr
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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

The only thing you haven't been taught, is what you teach yourself. 😉

mmm, are you mentioning something in medical sciences , "consciousness" ,which we broadly assess in biophysics?

or something in religious sciences ,such as: the existence of God, how to find him ,etc?

I am sure ,I am  aware on what to concentrate on :)

Edited by ahmet
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1 minute ago, ahmet said:

mmm, are you mentioning something in medical sciences , "consciousness" ,which we broadly assess in biophysics?

or something in religious sciences ,such as: the existence of God, how to find him ,etc?

 

The sentence speaks for itself. 🙄

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2 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

The sentence speaks for itself

ok. trying to correlate the topic , I can say that although some "behviours" might have a significantly " very low ratio of " relevance with the body skin (e.g. shrinking lips. also may rise to the type of voice and thus , style of expresion might be affected. )

but with this; no ... this is natural action first and none will feel himself/herself comfortable to act as in the role of whom he/she would potentially tries to , instead acting in her/his natural model.

trying to relate the two sentences you provided, I can suggest some educational contexts such as : "humanist approch" and some contexts in "social learning" 

also checking "cognitive model" might be good. 

 

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3 minutes ago, ahmet said:

ok. trying to correlate the topic , I can say that although some "behviours" might have a significantly " very low ratio of " relevance with the body skin (e.g. shrinking lips. also may rise to the type of voice and thus , style of expresion might be affected. )

but with this; no ... this is natural action first and none will feel himself/herself comfortable to act as in the role of whom he/she would potentially tries to , instead acting in her/his natural model.

trying to relate the two sentences you provided, I can suggest some educational contexts such as : "humanist approch" and some contexts in "social learning" 

also checking "cognitive model" might be good. 

 

Did you teach yourself any of this?

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20 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Did you teach yourself any of this?

in education sciences, no. 

but in science ,yes. 

(I would say "yes" in also education sciences , but these are rather general contexts. so, no. )

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Just now, ahmet said:

in education sciences, no. 

but in science ,yes. 

(I would say "yes" in also education sciences , but these are rather general contexts. so, no. )

Knowledge is only understood when we exceed our teacher's; they don't just give you a doctorate.... 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/21/2021 at 8:17 PM, Alex Mercer said:

Do you ever feel like people who are non white trying to fit in a western country feel like they have to put on a fake act of trying to be "white".

 

On 5/22/2021 at 9:01 AM, ahmet said:

no. too much stupid or meaningless to me.

The real world example of what OP said ("westernization of people"): How about ex-bedouins wearing cylinder hat, and Western country clothes:

picture.jpg.3d183656dabbaf066611404fdf2147b2.jpg

Westernization has good ("harmless") sides (like the above example) and dark sides.

 

If you are unfamiliar with this term read Wikipedia article:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westernization

 

Edited by Phi for All
requested correction
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