But for most of history, telling Christians they needed to "read their Bible every night" to get on God's good side was the equivalent of telling them they could only get to Heaven by flying there in their own helicopter.
The White Race Is A Recent Invention
Somewhere on social media, someone is currently asking, "Why isn't there a White History Month?" or "Why does every White Pride parade spawn bitter protests?" To understand the problem, we have to explain why the concept of a "white" race is kind of weird to begin with.
First of all, the idea is very recent. The ancient Greeks, for example, noted that there were various lighter-skinned peoples to their north, whom they considered inferior and barbaric. This view, of course, did a horrific 180 as the world changed, but divisions based on culture and geographic location always trumped skin tone (although it did admittedly come in handy for determining who was and was not a filthy Nordic invader).
How else will you figure out who needs to be stabbed? By talking to them??
Then, near the end of the 18th century, German anthropologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach decided to make racism easier and more accessible for everyone. So he gathered up a shitload of skulls from all over the planet, lined them up, and classified them into five races: Caucasian (or white), Mongolian (or yellow), Malayan (or brown), Ethiopian (or black), and American (or red). Blumenbach was adamant that his work was not meant to signify that one race was inherently better than any other, and he was quick to condemn the earlier work of his contemporaries who had determined that Africans were an inferior race. Then he went ahead and noted that whites were obviously the prettiest.
Great American thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson took Blumenbach's work and further narrowed it, proclaiming that Anglo-Saxon was the white race to be. This notion of superior and inferior sub-races is clear up through the 19th century. Sure, the Irish were treated better than people of African ancestry, but political cartoons of the time still depicted them as pipe-smoking ogres who couldn't discern pots from hats. They obviously weren't "white."
Thomas Nast Cartoons
Frederick Burr Opper via Library of Congress
"Our Anglo-Saxon neighbors never wear pots on their heads, Connor."
This ideal morphed again in the late 1910s, when the "Saxon" was dropped because it was no longer cool to be associated with Germany for some reason we can't quite put our finger on. Finally, in the 1940s, anthropologists declared that there were only three races: White, Black, and Asian ... or, since that's not nearly offensive enough to have been conceived in the '40s, "one Negroid race, one Mongoloid race, one Caucasoid race." Suddenly, all of the bitter hatred of the Irish, Italians, etc was set aside long enough to establish one race of somewhat similar-looking people who could be smugly set apart from the others.
In other words, "White" became a label that truly meant "not one of those filthy minorities." So yes, the enthusiastic embrace of the label is something of a sore spot for many people.
Despite what you're about to read in the comment section.
Nathan Kamal lives in Oregon and writes. He co-founded Asymmetry Fiction for all your fiction needs. Jordan Breeding is a part-time writer, full-time lover, and all-the-time guitarist. Check out his band at skywardband.com or on Spotify here.
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