Tag Archives: cultural identity

We White People Think White Culture Is Cultureless – My Daughter Leni Looks For Hers In An Essay Assignment

23 Oct

This is a kind of culture, too, right? little sister, Darla, (left), Leni, essay author, (right)

This is a kind of culture, too, right? little sister, Darla, (left), Leni, essay author, (right)

I was glad when my daughter Leni told me that her 10th grade English teacher gave her class an assignment to write an essay, titled “My Cultural Identity.” I’ve heard white people say many times that they feel like they don’t have a culture. That to be white is to be bland,to be a white American is boring. That to be anything else but a white American is more interesting–that people born in other parts of the world, who come from people with a more ancient history, have richer traditions, foods, and manner of dress.  I’ve been guilty of this myself. White people sometimes use words like “exotic,” “intriguing,” and “fascinating” when describing cultures different from theirs, and can have a difficult time defining their own culture or even believing that they have one. I’m told this “othering” of people of color is typical when one is a member of a dominant group.

I know that the color of one’s skin doesn’t  define one’s culture, and that ethnicity is only one element of culture, though again I’ll admit that growing up I thought […]