Esoterica's avatar



Further thoughts on this whole ‘learn about your culture’ thing:


Culture is not genetic.

You are not automatically a member of a culture because you are descended from it.

This is actually a really big issue for transracially adopted children because, for example, an infant adopted from China by a white family in America not only has no real access to the culture of their Chinese birth family, but also probably doesn’t have much/any access to the Chinese-American community (and yes, these are two separate and different cultures). They are most likely to be raised in ‘Default American’ culture, unless the white family in question is very aware of thier ethnic roots and identifies culturally as “[Ethnicity] American” in which case they will have THOSE cultural experiences.

But they also won’t get the privileges of whiteness because they are not white.

Being African American is different from being Black British, and they are both different from being Nigerian, even if the people in question are identical triplets separated at birth - they will have different cultures. Because race is not culture and culture is not genetic.

Your culture is defined exclusively by your experiences; the people you know and interact with and the cultural artifacts that impact your life. Your culture can shift and change over the course of your life as you gain more experiences and know different people, but your old experiences never go away (especially your formative ones). You don’t lose one culture when you gain access to and understanding of another. You don’t share the cultural experiences and context of people who were raised in a culture by joining it as an adult. That’s not how culture works.

How does this tie to the original post?

The original post is about whiteness and how it is a cultural eraser. How people who are white are (especially in America) led to believe that they don’t have a culture. It implores white people to find out who they are.

Sometimes that answer isn’t as interesting as they hope, apparently.

Added thoughts because of something that someone said in an ask:

Heritage is separate from culture and yes, that IS genetic. If you’re looking into your family history to find out what culture your ancestors were from and how they lived and how/if it relates to your current family and their practices, that’s researching your heritage. It’s pretty awesome. But let’s say your culture, as described as above, is ‘Default American’. You plug in your family history into and find out that your great-great-grandparents were Irish, Flemish, Portuguese Jewish, and Serbian. 


But you don’t magically become any of those cultures.

You especially don’t become the cultures of a century ago, which were vastly different than the cultures that occur today in the geographic locations that those cultures are associated with, because time is as much a cultural factor as place. Look at the vast differences between being an American in 1950 and being one in 2012 - and the ones from 1950 are by and large STILL AROUND - though most who are were children in 1950, which is very different from being adult in 1950, because AGE IS ALSO PART OF CULTURE.

I think that because the original post named a bunch of heritages that are also cultures, and didn’t explicitly tack -American onto all the ethnicities (I figured it was implied and left that way because the OP doesn’t presume all tumblr readers are American) that people have confused culture and heritage in a lot of the commentary.