No one identifies as white. Whiteness is the absence of culture, the bleaching a person’s lineage. Whiteness is privilege – the reward bestowed upon Americans for discarding the language and customs of our ancestors. To be white is to be assimilated. But assimilated into what? It could easily be argued that American culture is pop culture; branded, copywriten, marketed and sold to us. So what does it mean to be white? It means to be void of any roots, to be distinguished from those with a sense of ethnic history and, to have privilege over those with history.
When my ancestors came to this country, they believed it was important to discard the old world and embrace the new. Unhappily there was no new culture and unfortunately I cannot go back to the dolers-out of whiteness and say “actually, I’d really like my peoples’ culture and language back. I would rather have a sense of history than have white privilege”. Because, as much as I think of myself as a Jew and non-white, it is peoples’ perception and the way that I am treated in the world that matters.
I feel that when a person does identify as white, it becomes very dangerous. This is because of the definition that I have given above. A white-identified person will define themselves in terms of what they are NOT as well as claim a right to privilege. Therefore, a person who identifies with an empty non-culture is inherently problematic.
Another symptom of whiteness is acculturation. Various people raised in this white non-culture often acculturate other cultures. White people who lock their hair are one obvious example. A person with no sense of history is hungry for what people with a sense of ethnicity have and so they seek it in superficial ways.