“Oh Canada” rap forgets about black Canadians.

In the “Oh… Canada” rap by Canadian rapper Classified, the white Nova Scotian dispels many stereotypes about Canada. The actual lyrics are great, but the video is 100% white.

One really annoying stereotype that non-Canadians have about Canadians is that “Canadian” means “white”, and Classified’s video ends up perpetuating this stereotype. Understandably, Classified is representing his home province Nova Scotia, when most Canadian rappers are from Toronto or Vancouver. However, for someone living in Toronto and accustomed to racial diversity, the framing of Classified’s video as a neo-national-anthem looks like an erasure of Canadians of colour.

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“Chinese food” in the U.S. is not foreign, but foreignness is not “authenticity”.

My post White American culture is General Tso’s Chicken and Chop Suey has been linked to from various websites. Below I address a common criticism of the post, and I also link to two interesting analyses about the topic.

It’s not about “authenticity” or “appropriation”.

One common misconception was that I was complaining about cultural appropriation, and complaining that Chinese American food was “inauthentic”. This is not true. I posted this comment on Racialicious, but the comment thread is long, so I will repost my comment here for better visibility:

I am not against food appropriation or food “hybridity” (whatever that means). The concept of “authenticity” is flawed, because it assumes that certain cultures remain static and frozen in time, instead of being dynamic and fluid.

Tomatoes were not originally native to Italy; they were first imported from the Americas. Chili peppers were not originally native to India; they were first imported from the Americas. Potatoes were not originally native to Ireland; they were first imported from the Americas.

What I have a problem with is what I outlined in the post. The presumption that I am a food purist and cultural purist (whatever that means) probably comes from the stereotype that people who have beef with misconceptions of food origins are really complaining about “authenticity”. Maybe other people do that, but if you CTRL+F for “authenticity” and “appropriation”, you will find them absent from the actual post.

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White liberals blame white conservatives for white racism.

White liberals blame white racism on white conservatives, and white urbanites associate whiteness with white suburbanites. However, the type of white people that people of colour know in real life tend to be liberal, urban whites, not conservative whites or suburban whites. After all, people of colour in North America tend to live in urban and liberal cities, not white suburbs or conservative rural areas.

When most white liberals think of white racism, they think of the KKK, Neo-Nazis, and Republicans. When most white urbanites think of whiteness, they think of the suburbs, white picket fences, sweaters, sweater-vests, sandwiches, mayonnaise, green lawns and backyards, and Wal*Mart shoppers.   Basically, most white liberals associate white racism with white conservatives, and most white urbanites associate whiteness with white suburbanites. Since white liberals are not white conservatives, it is difficult for them to accept that they could be racist. Since white urbanites are not white suburbanites, it is difficult for them to view their own behaviour as typical white behaviour.

Many white, urban liberals believe that they are transcending their whiteness by ordering General Tso/Tao’s Chicken, buying “curry” powder, taking yoga, wearing “African” jewellery, eating Thai food, drinking “chai tea”, carrying around Sigg bottles with a Buddha design, toting handbags with Ganesh embroidered on it, and hanging dream catchers on their rearview mirrors. That is, liberal, urban whites believe that participating in these activities makes them cosmopolitan and multicultural. However, for most people of colour living in liberal, North American cities, to engage in these behaviours is to engage in typical white behaviour.  In other words, white, urban liberals are unaware of how white their tastes, lifestyles, and thinking are, yet ironically, they believe that they are racially enlightened and culturally aware, and different from other whites.

If you are a white liberal and you think you have an enlightened idea about race, ask yourself if other white liberals would agree with your idea. If you answered yes, your idea is probably not that enlightening.

If you are a white liberal and other white liberals think like you, and you think like other white liberals, it means that you are a typical white liberal. For most people of colour in North America, this means that you are a typical white person.

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