It’s Not About Race!
John Metta

Race Isn’t Culture

I read your article and found it both thoughtful and enlightening, but also find it strange that you continually conflate culture with race.

Using your example of the Normans invading England and requiring the French language to be spoken … this act obviously changed the culture of the Anglo-Saxon peoples. Did it, therefore, change their race? Or, were they still Anglo-Saxons? I would argue the latter — that they were still Anglo-Saxons.

I am a white male of Scandinavian descent. The culture of my ancestors was different ( often in very meaningful ways ) from the culture of white people from Germany, from France, from England, from Ireland, from Russia, and from other places. But, my family moved to the USA. And they stayed. And they changed their own culture to be compatible with that of the USA. We adopted and became “Americans”.

American culture is an awesome and dynamic mix of many different peoples and ideas. Yes, this mix is primarily composed of people and ideas of white, Western European descent, but it is neither exclusively composed of ideas from these people nor are the ideas and cultures of all “white people” the same.

You assert that cultural assimilation ( forcing the English to speak French ) is a method of control. It can be, especially in the context of the example you have given. However, cultural assimilation and normalization can also be a powerful method of community-building, especially within a country like the USA where so many cultures are mixed together to form a single meta-culture that consistently evolves to become more and more diverse over time.

Without denying that there are racists, bigots, and other terrible people out there, I would argue that the primary issue between people who are “in power” and those who continue to feel marginalized is that those you say are in power view no desire or effort by the marginalized group to come to the table of cultural integration with a willingness to both give and take. Instead, these marginalized people are perceived as coming to the table with demands that we change a culture that has evolved over hundreds and thousands of years completely … just to accommodate their own ideas. That’s not how it works. A new culture coming to the USA must accept 80% of what is already here and contribute 20% of their own identity into what will become a new collective identity. ( * percentages picked out of thin air and by no means scientific, but it is important to note that the expectation is mostly assimilation with a little bit of contribution )

Writing this reply was, frankly, quite scary. I’m relatively certain that several moments after I hit the Publish button I’m going to start receiving a lot of hate and possibly even be compared to Donald Trump. But I really respected your post and wanted to offer somewhat of a counter-point to keep some conversation moving. After all, if I don’t share opposing thoughts, we can never come to an understanding or a solution.