In Which the NY Times Ignores Asian Americans

You know how black students who do well in school are accused of "acting white"?  Mary Bucholtz, a linguist at UC Santa Barbara, has devoted her career to promoting that stereotype, and the NY Times thinks she's tops!

By cultivating an identity perceived as white to the point of excess, nerds deny themselves the aura of normality that is usually one of the perks of being white. Bucholtz sees something to admire here. In declining to appropriate African-American youth culture, thereby “refusing to exercise the racial privilege upon which white youth cultures are founded,” she writes, nerds may even be viewed as “traitors to whiteness.” You might say they know that a culture based on theft is a culture not worth having.

So white youth culture is defined by its "theft" of black youth culture?  Those who decline to imitate the latter are actually rejecting the former?  To adopt aspects of a foreign culture is to transgress against it? See, this is why I never really got into linguistics.

Share this

academic culture

This is one of those cases where Bucholtz and other liberal arts academics literally will not be able to hear or process what you're saying because it doesn't map onto the mental game board they use to represent the world. Since they first entered academia as freshman they've been steeped in a worldview where culture is partitioned into two groups: the hot / verbal / authentic / poor / oppressed "black" world, and the cold / analytical / inauthentic / rich / oppressing "white" world. Given this division, all phenomena have to map onto one or the other bin. If something is in opposition to the conventional jock / popular/ extrovert ("white") culture, then - BY DEFINITION - it must partake of the rebellious "black" culture.

In this world view all forms of transgression move an individual from inauthentic and white to authentic and black. Push for socialized medicine? You're "the first black president"? Prefer sex with people of your own gender? Then you're "queer", and you're oppressed / rebelling, and get put in the black bin (google "nigger 'queer theory'" sometime). Embrace left wing positions such as racial discrimination against whites? Then you're (said approving) a "race traitor" and get all the positive cachet of the black bin. You're a young Hispanic in LA who dislikes conventional culture? Then you should ideally join La Raza, which is "just like" the ("black") civil rights movement.

Etc.

In this worldview there's really no concept at all for "Hmong", or "conservative black", or "Hispanic who wants to work hard so that he can live like a middle class American".

And, I note, it's these areas that the map can't conceive of, or explain, that cause the academics to get upset and lash out in frustration.