The PJ Tatler

Quote of the Day

To be white in America is to have the privilege of being able to go through life without being made self-conscious by one’s race. — James Taranto in the WSJ

This one struck me particularly. As some readers have seen me mention, I’m descended from both Cherokee and Choctaw Indians. Now, I look about as Indian as Leonard Nimoy, and a helluva lot less than Ed Ames, and where I grew up the big racial issue was Anglo or Hispanic anyway. (And I’m a crossover there too, for that matter.)

But my closest friend since childhood is an Indian of the Other Kind, from Hyderabad, and one of my closest adult friends is a black guy from Kentucky. Both of them were made conscious, on a regular basis, that they weren’t among the melanin-challenged.

The way young people now are made conscious of their physiological difference is different from when I was a child, and even more so from when my parents were children — my mother didn’t discover her Indian ancestry until she was in her twenties, because her family was “passing”, where now you have poseurs like my erstwhile colleague Ward Churchill. It was a positive for him in academia. Something, in fact, I experienced myself in my academic career. When I was approaching my dissertation defense and looking at academic jobs, I had the experience of moving from just another CV in hundreds, to being actively recruited, after the department chairman learned by accident of my Injun blood. I resented it: they weren’t interested in me and my research, they were interested in who I’d picked for grandparents.

Taranto is making the point in his column that people with the appropriate ancestry now are made to feel different, not by the exclusion, but by the degree to which inclusion is granted, not earned.