The White Issue

This week on the Ethnic Aisle: white writers talk about whiteness.

But first! Navneet Alang on why we decided to do such an issue: “Far too often, whiteness is a kind of assumed norm without a name—something neatly encapsulated by the fact that no-one ever calls grilled cheese or steak “ethnic food”.”

Then, Jonathan Robson on his Rosedale-bred White Issue(s): “Rabbit stew takeaway from Arlequin at Ave and Dav was probably as close to a multicultural experience as I ever came to back then. Maybe that Gipsy Kings album; maybe Julio Iglesias.”

Remember Carlton Banks? Jesse Kinos-Goodin traces a line from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air to swag-popping Boston hip hop cover band Karmin and argues (sort of) that White Rap is Just Wrong.

John Michael McGrath would like to share his 8 Simple Rules for Marrying a Chinese Woman except “it turns out there’s no one Chinese Girl TM out there to date and marry. They’re all different! My wife Vicki is even totally different from her sisters! It’s weird.”

“One day we were visiting my mom’s best friend and one of her kids was wearing a “stop racism” pin. I wasn’t sure what “racism” was. I was twelve:” Sarah Nicole Prickett is simultaneously Not Guilty, Not Innocent.

Do only WASPs get to be white? Nina Boccia, in To Be Italian: “Many people are apparently shocked that I don’t have the olive skin that once so blatantly marked hundreds of thousands of Italian immigrants as not truly “white” and continues to racialize their descendants.”

Kath Halloran on white privilege in Finding My Canadian Self in Ireland: “The woman beside you on the streetcar lived in Canada her whole life and some people will always assume she got off the boat yesterday.”

Black envy, or black in a past life? Lisan Jutras in Jesus Saves: “When I heard “Mary Don’t You Weep,” on Aretha’s gospel album, I’d picture myself running super fast, or maybe even floating, with a pushing feeling inside my chest, and I’d find myself crying.”


Passing, Or Something Like It: Paul Aguirre-Livington on realizing that despite being a son of an immigrant father whose first language isn’t English, the actual colour of his actual skin still makes him “white.”



3 thoughts on “The White Issue

  1. Pingback: Extra, Extra: Rejected Queen, Replaced Harvey’s, and What Does it Mean to be White in Toronto? | news | Torontoist

  2. Cool idea. I hope that all the pieces don’t define whiteness against what it isn’t, as two of the three above do. (Entertaining as they are. This is especially apt, from Robson’s: “I will remain profoundly ignorant about your religious observances as I continue to trivialize my own.”)

    And as Alang seems to suggest, there isn’t one “white” any more than there’s one “black.” English, Irish, Eastern European, European Jewry, French, German, etc… all very different cultures with one very visible common denominator.

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