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Friday, June 13, 2008

Today in Race

Yeah, I know- you've had it with race already this election year. If so, you better build yourself a bunker, because the issue is not going away until at least January '09. The esteemed Wall Street Journal provided a history of whiteness today. Now, it can be said that the WSJ itself is the history of whiteness, but that is a whole other post. The key passage for me is this:

Whiteness and the privileges that came with it were so closely guarded that in
1912, a House committee held hearings on whether Italians were really Caucasian,
says Thomas Guglielmo, a historian at George Washington University. The idea was
picked up from Italy, where northern, lighter-skinned Italians, were asking the
same questions about the southern, darker-skinned Italians, he says. No one
argued seriously that Jews and Greeks, or Irish and Poles -- light-skinned but
poor -- weren't white, but whether they were ethnically Caucasian was up for
debate, he adds.

Yes, we Irish-Americans were not white enough. So the next time anyone tells you that a black can't be elected, you can gently remind them that there was a time not so long ago when a Kennedy couldn't bend elbows with a Vanderbilt.

I'm glad I'm marrying into good German stock. It will cleanse that nasty Irish blood.

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