Where are you from? The Othering

Oct 04 2012 Published by under BlogBlather

From Kristin Booker at xojane:

But at the end of the day, a simple answer should be sufficient, random stranger. If I decide to answer that question at all, I'm being nice. All further questions past the answer, "I'm Black," will now be met with one answer and one answer only: "I've answered your question."

I am who I am. Who my progenitors had sex with is none of your business. Kindly stop asking. This interview is now over. *throws mic down*

I saw this from a link to jezebel.

In other news, despite being kinda majority culture this woman puts it well.

To completely switch gears on you, I often think of this song in the context of academic genealogy.

76 responses so far

  • becca says:

    To this day, I have no idea exactly how you identify, except for kinda not so majority culture.

    [edited by request-DM]

  • drugmonkey says:

    I have no idea exactly how you identify,

    Perhaps you should entertain the notion that I do not, in fact, "identify" at all?

    except for kinda not so majority culture.

    an assumption that may or may not be accurate depending on what you consider critical aspects of "majority culture". I encourage you to consider that one is perfectly free to put a boot to the ass of one's own culture and/or subclub with which one "identifies".

    As Ms. Booker seems to be putting it, your curiosity is not my* problem.

    *DM's

  • becca says:

    Of course it's not your problem.

    But I'm not even especially curious about it. I mean, far less curious than I am about who is Jewish.
    (I think people are more often looking for commonalities than differences in these questions. That doesn't make them less awkward/rude though).

  • drugmonkey says:

    Isabel can probably hook you up.

  • "I think people are more often looking for commonalities than differences in these questions"

    HAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Um, no.

  • Virgil says:

    In the US, it's hard to make the case that people asking about race/origin are automatically doing so for negative reasons (i.e. to feed their prejudices), rather than trying to find some commonality, to connect in a positive way. I tend to view such questions as innocent - Americans seem to be a curious folk, often searching for their own identity and seeking to connect with others of similar ancestry.

    The exception is the English (of which I am one) who have a rather arcane attitude when encountering those of their own kind overseas. Unlike other large US immigrant groups who tend to affiliate and celebrate their native culture (Irish, Italian etc.), the English actively avoid other English overseas. As such, if an English person ever asks about your race/origin, you can be assured it is probably for reasons of establishing class/standing. The English class system with its infinitessimally small divisions, requires that any meeting with a new person begin by establishing rank. Asking about race/origin is just part of this process. If the respondent is English, the conversation inevitably veers toward what part of the country you're from (with a strong bias that the white collar south-east is socially superior to the blue collar north), or discussions of where you were educated.

    One of the reasons I moved to the US, is to get away from this head-up-the-ass attitude where everyone has to fall into their natural place in the universe pre-determined by genes/education/up-bringing and other nefarious class distinctions. I like the US meritocracy, and if someone asks where I'm from, I'll gladly answer because I don't perceive malice behind the question. If you really want to feel intimidated about race/origins, move to the UK!

    (Oh, and J-T-F-C whoever put that neurotree thing together has way too much spare time on their hands)

  • drugmonkey says:

    Virgil- it is not at all hard to make the case. It's hard to make the case, however, that anyone other than Britlanders gives a fuck about y'all's irrelevant distinctions amongst white folks depending on indistinguishable differences in pronunciation. See how that works?

  • Bashir says:

    I guess I have to give my example. This is paraphrased, but accurate enough.

    Them: what are you?

    Me: Black

    Them: and?

    Me. Just black.

    Them: are you sure?

    Me:....

    Them: one of your parents isn't white? you're smart and nice.

    Get it?
    Mind you I don't really care that much if people ask me. Only if they question my answer. Which happens more often than you might think.

  • drugmonkey says:

    "but you are so [thing questioner doesn't associate with apparent ethnicity]..."

    Is often overt but even more frequently sub textually implied. It always emerges on further discourse that this is the issue.

  • Grumble says:

    Being a gamishmash of different ancestry myself, and having produced offspring with someone from yet another part of the world, I find myself utterly baffled as to what box to check on forms asking for the race of said offspring. There's no "don't know" or "not applicable" box, which implies that everyone is always supposed to know what race they are, and that it's always applicable. Nor is the "decline to state" box appropriate: I decline to even think about it, and it is therefore meaningless to ask whether I wish to state anything about it.

    I'm often tempted to draw in another box and write "Fuck off and stop asking" next to it.

    Neurotree is another matter, however. It's fascinating to think about how, say, BF Skinner descends from Helmholtz: all those slight changes in experimental focus from progenitor to offspring adding up over decades.

  • @Virgil
    Even in the US the joyful multiculturalism among different brands of whiteness is fairly new (post WWII). For example, Italian-Americans used to face real discrimination. As did Jews. If you weren't Protestant and descended from Englishmen, you weren't really white.

  • Lady Day says:

    ... at which point I mention that some people classified as "white" or "caucasian" today once lynched to "fit in" with other white people.

    http://www.tamupress.com/product/Lynching-to-Belong,1502.aspx

    I have a weird ancestry and am first generation American. My parents routinely are asked where they originated from because they have obvious accents. In some parts of the country, I am clearly take to be white, possibly because there are more people with Native ancestry in those areas? Not sure why, actually. I have fielded questions/inquiries into the origin of my name, in those places, though. In other parts of the country, I appear to be mistaken as Hispanic. In Greece, folks thought I was Greek, and I'm not Greek. My mother says I look northern Italian, and I have no earthly idea what that means - I have no Italian ancestry, either. My former neighbor used to comment about how pretty my olive skin tone is.

  • Lady Day says:

    I meant that comment about Native ancestry to imply that those folks in those certain areas of the U.S. are considered "white" mostly because their families have hidden their Native roots for so long and have essentially claimed "white"/"caucasian" ethnicity for many generations to avoid discrimination.

  • becca says:

    Isis- ok fine. *Perhaps* the subset of people I consider worth socializing with are more often looking for commonalities. Though I'll readily grant I'm not attuned to this flavor of idiocy, and that I would need to work on noticing it to have anything like a reasonable opinion on why it usually comes up.

    Grumble- I have been known to simply write in
    "race:
    ...
    Other:_____human____" ,

  • Jim Thomerson says:

    I'm a Texan. What are y'all? 😉

  • Alex says:

    For example, Italian-Americans used to face real discrimination.

    As recently as the early 1970's, my half-Italian mother (not particularly dark, but with a last name that makes it blatantly obvious that she's not just Italian, she's southern Italian) faced an ugly incident or two. When my grandfather married a pasty Anglo Canadian, his family was all "Ooh, he's marrying a white girl!"

    I always mention these things when white people complain about immigrants, particularly immigrants from south of the border. I'm like "Let me get this straight: You're worried about swarthy Catholics who speak a Romance language and have a Mediterranean-influenced macho culture? Um, have you ever heard of Italians?"

    It's especially ironic to hear complaints about immigration from people named Arpaio and Tancredo.

    To be clear, my point here is not to try to claim victim status. I didn't get my grandfather's pigmentation (I did, however, get the rest of his good looks) and my last name is boringly Anglo. Rather, my point is the irony of hearing white people complain about immigrants from south of the border.

  • drugmonkey says:

    And before that it was the Irish.

  • dsks says:

    Inquiries about pedigree are fucked up outside of conversations about domestic animals. Period.

    (for the record, my gray moggie did not actually have one white parent and one black one. Wild heh? That always throws people through a loop when they ask about it.)

  • drugmonkey says:

    Moggie? What is that, sone sort of chicken?

  • DJMH says:

    Your title is very misleading. "What are you?" is a way ruder question than "Where are you from?" I understand that even "Where are you from?" is seen as rude by some people, but plenty of us ask that question of white and non white people all the time, within a "I grew up in Florida" context.

  • Isabel says:

    becca, you are a huge fucking asshole. Taking things out of context to make someone look like an anti-semite? Implying that I have anti-semitic "fantasies"? You really can't get any lower than that. No, you can't.

  • Isabel says:

    Seriously becca, you owe me an apology, or else a serious response with actual evidence that i am "sure you are all Jews" whatever the fuck that even means. Man, the sanctimony on these blogs is so thick the stench is nauseating. You are the masters at othering even as you insist it's the worst crime possible. You other "rednecks" , various other groups of lower class white people, Christians, Republicans, "potheads" and other "drug users" (as opposed to ethanol enthusiasts) etc. every fucking day. The purpose is to feed your sense of superiority. You are good, not like those others who possess all the "bad" characteristics. You may be a drunk, but you don't take drugs like those losers. How can you not see that you are doing the same thing?

    It all sucks. Not just when the Other guy does it.

  • Isabel says:

    And talking about me while I am right here? You suck becca. Get over it already. Or else be willing to participate in a serious discussion.

  • Isabel says:

    I think it is noteworthy that the very first commenter on this thread:

    1. hints that she'd like to know DrugMonkeys background

    2. Others another regular commenter, talking about her in the third person, as if she were sub-human.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Who is the "drunk", Isabel?

  • drugmonkey says:

    You other "rednecks" , various other groups of lower class white people, Christians, Republicans, "potheads" and other "drug users" (as opposed to ethanol enthusiasts)

    Only one of these things is plausibly an intrinsic identity, as opposed to a willing behavioral and affiliational choice Isabel. Tha is a big difference.

  • Isabel says:

    "Isabel can probably hook you up."

    What the fuck does this mean? Who is this comment even addressed to?

    And why do you and Isis support the biggest source of institutional racism around, the drug war against black/brown young and lower class Americans? And yes, never speaking out against it amounts to support. In fact, in the present climate mocking and compartmentalizing cannabis users, like Isis does, absolutely amounts to support for the racist drug war.

    And until you come up with another word for cannabis users besides demeaning terms like "potheads" and "stoners" yep alcohol users like Isis are all going to be "drunks". As a drug researcher you should be embarrassed at revealing such prejudice.

    "Only one of these things is plausibly an intrinsic identity"

    So if one of your students is say from a poor, religious Southern background, it is okay to continually bash "Christians" "rednecks""white trash" etc in their presence, since these are all choices?

    They are ALL terms used against broad groups of people in order to 'other' them. Yet asking where someone is from is not necessarily done for that reason, even if it is tactless. I've been subject to the darker version of this line of questioning myself by friends' parents when I was growing up, and it sucks.

    Are you so sure drug preference is a "willing" behavior? I would disagree and again seems an extraordinary naive view for a drug researcher.

  • becca says:

    Isabel- Huh? I didn't say you wanted to know who was Jewish so you'd know who to throw into the ovens. However, you have in the past made comments about there being a bunch of Jews in the academy. Which is not, nor do I claim it is, equivalent to being anti-semetic. It is not necessarily anti-semetic to want to know who is Jewish, and I don't claim to know your motivations for keeping tabs. I do know some (other) Jews that have fixations with who else is Jewish.

    Also, while it was intended to be taken as an invitation for DM to comment on his motivations for talking about/not talking about his background, my initial comment wasn't premediated as fishing for info. Since both DM and Isabel perceived that it was, I obviously screwed up (though I guess I could argue it's a meta-commentary on how to ask in a way that at least marginally better than "where are you from/no where are you *really* from", it really isn't that hard to ask a nosy question in a way people can ignore without a fuss, but really I didn't think it out that carefully).
    Anyway: I is curious. But is not my bidness. Kind of the point.

  • physioprof says:

    Everybody knows DoucheMonkey is a dirty jew academic.

  • "In fact, in the present climate mocking and compartmentalizing cannabis users, like Isis does, absolutely amounts to support for the racist drug war."

    Let's all be clear, I only mock you.

  • Isabel says:

    Don't lie, Isis. Hope you have received some help for your drug problem. I'm worried about your kids.

    "However, you have in the past made comments about there being a bunch of Jews in the academy" " Isn't Isabel quite sure we're all Jews?"

    oh man, you are **so fucked up** becca. WHEN did I make those comments? Not that I EVER uttered your twisted versions. NEVER. Tell the whole story or STFU. Do it now- tell the whole story accurately or STFU for good. You've gotten enough Isabel-hate mileage out of your lies by now don't you think?

    Hint: I was defending "white anglo-saxons" who were depicted as having a static, unchanging hold over academia. I said the "white" composition has changed quite a lot, and in fact the majority population is under represented in the academy.

    "that have fixations with who else is Jewish. "

    Fixation?? I have a fixation? I had in fact totally forgotten about that conversation. It was years ago! You are the one with the bizarre fixation -on me.

    Physioprof is another hypocrite, who has said the most horrible things about other groups imaginable. He is a genius at Othering in fact. He also spews self-hating anti-semitism, then tries to make his words stick to other people. I *never once said* anything like he is implying I did.

  • Aren't I supposed to be a drunk?

  • Isabel says:

    " and I don't claim to know your motivations for keeping tabs"

    Keeping tabs?? And my motivations were extremely clear in the original conversation- to make sure no group is being unfairly scapegoated for the problem of minority representation in science.

  • Isabel says:

    "Aren't I supposed to be a drunk?"

    >Newsflash< alcohol is a drug. Kind of the obvious point of my comment, duh.

  • Isabel says:

    ""In fact, in the present climate mocking and compartmentalizing cannabis users, like Isis does, absolutely amounts to support for the racist drug war."

    Let's all be clear, I only mock you."

    What do Patchouli and inferior shoes have to do with me, specifically? And you never mentioned my name on that thread (at PalMDs). It's pure, impersonal, ignorant stereotype. You were trying to be (inappropriately) funny about a massive crisis that specifically victimizes young people of color. And does so on an unprecedented scale. As far as I can see this vapid fashion critique is your entire position on the crisis. It is vaguely amusing to you, or something. A chance to "FWDAOTI". Yippee.

  • Busy says:

    Even the question itself is racist. I'm neither black nor white nor hispanic nor asian. Those are labels created by a racist culture that do not, in any way, reflect who I am.

    - What are you?

    - A person.

    - I mean what race are you?

    - Human race.

    Now, if someone out of curiosity wants to know where my grandparents are from and in what amounts they produced melanin I can share that, but still it has no bearing on the question "what I am".

  • Alex says:

    Those are labels created by a racist culture that do not, in any way, reflect who I am.

    I am not making any assumptions about you as an individual, but I will note that this sort of argument against race/ethnicity questions often comes from white guys who are arguing against affirmative action and quoting the only line from MLK that most white people seem to know.

  • Isabel says:

    Becca- I am going to do a rare thing and request that you and/or DM remove your comment. It is the first comment on the thread, and clearly characterizes me as an antisemite. A lot of people will not get far enough down in the thread to read my response and defense, and your admission that I never said such a thing as "you were all Jews". I put up with a lot of abuse here because of my views, and my deliberate decision to battle DM on the drug war front, but I think this is really damaging and unfair. enough is enough with this anti-semite crap.

  • Isabel says:

    Becca- I am going to do a rare thing and request that you and/or DM remove your comment. It is the first comment on the thread, and clearly characterizes me as an antisemite. A lot of people will not get far enough down in the thread to read my response and defense, and your admission that I never said such a thing as "you were all Jews". I put up with a lot of abuse here because of my views and my deliberate decision to battle DM on the drug war front, but I think this is really damaging and unfair. enough is enough with this anti-semite crap.

  • Isabel says:

    Sorry about that - I edited out an awkward unnecessary comma in the edit window - but then when I saved it posted as a second comment. Not sure how that happened. Too upset/too much multi-tasking going on I guess.

  • Busy says:

    but I will note that this sort of argument against race/ethnicity questions often comes from white guys who are arguing against affirmative action

    We'll I'm neither melanin-deprived nor against affirmative action. But more importantly we are not talking about a question in a form meant to reddress past racial imbalances, but a direct question from a person meant to elicit racial identifications which have no place in a non-racist society.

  • drugmonkey says:

    I meant, quite simply Isabel, that you have made confident assertions about my group identity and could therefore answer becca's question.

  • Isabel says:

    And i can "hook her up" exactly how? In this context the question is inappropriate anyway. Why would I be involved? Why can't you answer the question yourself if you want to answered? And I made "confident assertions" because you mentioned it. I remember personal details of major characters such as yourself in these discussions. Why wouldn't I? Is this wrong? imo it is completely normal behavior. becca accuses me of "keeping tabs" wtf?????

    *Please* remove becca's firat comment. I never made any remarks anything like you "are all jews". Come on man, have a little integrity, please.

  • becca says:

    Isabel- I actually can't edit it any more than you can delete your duplicated comment.

    I can state for the record that the comment was ill-considered, and as far as the bit about you, it was facetious and I did not mean you were an anti-semite.

    If DM is so inclined, he certainly has my go-ahead to remove the part that concerns you. For all I care, he can remove the whole comment; I'm not particularly invested in it as it only showcases my stupidity. Though I think the meta-communication of the not-Isabel part is probably worth keeping around in case anyone ever wants to do an exhaustive "how allies fail" round up.

  • Isabel says:

    Thanks, Becca. What do you say, DM?

    The offending remarks will still be preserved where I quote becca below her comment, but will be at least where only "diehards" will see them. And more importantly, her remarks will be coupled with my responses; the main thing is I will not be broadly and unfairly slandered (or whatever) in the first comment.

  • drugmonkey says:

    I mentioned what exactly?

  • physioprof says:

    Dude, why are you editing comments posted by raving logorrheic gibberers? I thought the whole purpose of this blogge was to troll raving gibberers into gibbering logorrheically at each other?

  • drugmonkey says:

    It is not the whole purpose of this blog, no.

  • Isabel says:

    Thank you.

  • I would like to make a request, DM. I would appreciate it if you would replace all of my comments with this picture.

    NIP!!!

  • drugmonkey says:

    WTF ARE those?!!?!

  • That is what I want my comments replaced with. Cone on Drugmonkey!!!!!! I don't want people who read these comments to have a bad opinion of me!!!!!!!!!

  • Isabel says:

    I think they would have the exact same opinion of you. I personally don't see any difference between that image and most of your comments.

    ps. Cone on, DM, cone on!

  • Yeah man!!! Cone on!! This is really important!!! The internet depends on it!!!!!

  • Also, I would just like to take this opportunity to angrily type some random shit just a few minutes after I angrily typed some other shit. Angrily.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Why are you so angry Isis?

  • Isabel says:

    Alcohol will do that.

  • Maybe I need to try weed. That will clearly fix all of my problems.

  • Isabel says:

    It will have less harmful effects than the hard stuff you are guzzling now (according to your tweets).

  • physioprof says:

    This blogge is bulshitte.

  • Isabel says:

    PP, go find someone else to project your intense self-hatred onto.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Wait...why does PP hate himself now? I missed that part somewhere...

  • Isabel says:

    DM, why do you keep asking me questions that you already know the answer to? It's disconcerting. Like this continual harassment I have to put up with. Climb off, guys, okay?

  • Isis the Scientist says:

    Yeah, DM. You're really a dick for making Isabel feel unwelcome on her blog.

  • drugmonkey says:

    If PP hates himself it is incredibly well sublimated. So no, I don't know why you think this.

  • miko says:

    This thread is gross.

  • Isabel says:

    Isis shut up already- you aren't making the slightest sense. I am embarrassed for you. Now you are saying it is okay to spread potentially damaging lies about someone as long as you do it on your own blog? and that they are being ridiculous if they object?

    And your "mocking" is pathetically unfunny. You sound pissed because I once again revealed your "anti-racism" to be superficial at best. You aren't fooling anyone with your attempts to put me down. it just comes off as desperate flailing.

    DM, I am referring to the ugly anti-semitic insults he spews. It's sickening to hear. No one else wants to hear it, but he can't seem to control himself whenever the subject comes up.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Ah. Is it unclear to you the manner in which he is making those remarks? It is not from "self" hatred by any stretch. Those comments are made to lampoon bigotry.

  • Isabel says:

    Obviously yes, on the surface. But what bigotry is he lampooning here? And he really seems to relish it, to look for these opportunities. That is the disturbing part. No one is even being a bigot - someone argues that it is unfair to assert that traditional "anglo saxons" are over-represented and "refusing to budge" in academia and tries to provide some evidence of changing composition of the "white" contingent, and immediately he is spewing these ugly stereotypes. And continues doing so, based on that same conversation, for years. This is not normal behavior. He also says really ugly things about "white christians" even blaming "lying white christians" for greed in scientific publishing on Michael Eisen's blog and other outrageous remarks. How do you excuse that?

  • drugmonkey says:

    When the discussion is about white vs nonwhite representation and you advance this idea the Jews aren't really white and should be counted in with nonwhites to show how horrible real whites have it in the academy these days...yeah that sounds a little antiSemitic to my ear. probably b/c it's a line promulgated by genUwine antisemites.

    The fact that you act indignantly offended instead of trying to understand why you come across this way does you no credit.

    Christianity is a choice not an identity and PP's free to bash away at that as far as I am concerned. Just like the choice to be a redneck (I.e. plenty of poorer and whiter types who work for a living fail to embrace Redneckism ) is a valid target for critique.

  • Isabel says:

    I never said the Jews were not white! there you go again!

    I said the population was not static, and comprised of "anglo-saxons" who were "refusing to move over and let other groups in" as was alleged.

    In the conversation referred to I pointed out the Jewish percentage, because this makes a big difference for two reasons. It shows that a formerly under-represented group has in fact made great strides, and the majority population, which in that discussion was referred to as "Anglo saxon" is not over-represented. I took "anglo saxon" to refer to, and actually be code for, non-jewish, as in the "WASPs" who discriminated against Jews and Catholics. And if you are breaking it all down, why *can't* we say that non-Jewish whites are under-represented? I wasn't bringing this up out of the blue, I was responding to the assertion that "anglo-saxons" were not letting others in. It's as if you want to break things down, but only to a point that you are personally comfortable with.

    "how horrible real whites have it in the academy"

    I NEVER once said anything even close to this! "horrible"? Never said it, in fact never said anything about how *anybody* has it in the academy. Nope. Never. And "real whites"? Seriously, DM?? No I will not apologize for your weird, paranoid interpretations and misquotes.

    "probably b/c it's a line promulgated by genUwine antisemites."

    Which is probably why you mentally pasted it over my actual comments the minute you heard the word Jew. Exactly the way you do it in the cannabis discussions. No matter what I actually say, you keep insisting I said particular stereotypic things you have in your head. I don't have any particular problem with the current representation of any groups in science, actually, except the under-representation of African Americans and lower class people in general. I was speaking out against unfair blaming, not blaming anyone!

    Your last paragraph is just crazy. So criticism of Muslims is okay with you, then?

  • drugmonkey says:

    I will not apologize for your weird, paranoid interpretations and misquotes.

    It's kind of astonishing the sheer diversity and number of my usual Readers who have come to the same "weird,paranoid" interpretation of your positions and past statements don't you think?

    you keep insisting I said particular stereotypic things you have in your head

    oh, the irony.....

    So criticism of Muslims is okay with you

    sure, why not? just so long as it focuses on beliefs and actions and not on conflating those with essential characteristics of the persons involved.

  • Isabel says:

    "It's kind of astonishing the sheer diversity and number of my usual Readers"

    What on earth are you talking about? Sounds like you share Isis' delusion that you, PP, Isis and PalMD comprise the "entire internet". I don't think you have the support you have.

    And way to change the subject and not address any of the points I just made.

    " just so long as it focuses on beliefs and actions "

    And this is absolutely not the case when PP is blaming "lying white Christians" for the issues in the science publishing industry.

  • drugmonkey says:

    science publishing industry? Are you sure you are not stitching things together yet again?

  • Isabel says:

    You are playing games. Not interested in playing along, sorry.

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