The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 03, 1997, Page 2, Image 2

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But one academic
movement says a posi
tive white identity is
RQJSELLE, N.J. (AP) -r Jeff
Hitchcock thought he was pretty
knowledgeable about living in a
multicultural society.
After all, the 45-year-old psycholo
gist dealt with race issues both in his
career as a diversity consultant, con
ducting cultural sensitivity workshops
for companies, and in his interracial
marriage to a black woman.
_But Hitchcock was unprepared
when an interview subject, discussing
what people of various cultures need
to do to get along in a multicultural
world, said that white people needed
to be more aware of their whiteness.
“I had been half-listening, but
when he said that, it just struck me,”
Hitchcock says. “1 thought, 'What is
he talking about?’ because I never re
ally thought of myself as having a ra
cial identity as a white person.
“Then I realized that if I was go
ing to do this kind of work, I really
needed to think about it.”
In April 1995, Hitchcock started
the Center for the Study of White
American Culture to carry out that
Operating out of a small office in
his Roselle home, the center has an
Internet site and a newsletter. Last year
I ; ._
it sponsored a conference that brought
together about 50 people from around
the country to discuss the issue.
Non-racist models
“The only models we have for dis
cussing whiteness are coming out of
the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Na
tion, and that’s not right,” Hitchcock
says. “We have to examinevwhat it
means to be white, but in a non-rac
ist, non-supremacist way.”
The organization’s goal is to get
white people to talk about and recog
nize themselves as a distinct cultural
and racial group and to examine what
role that group plays in the larger
American society.
Hitchcock says many whites find
it difficult to talk about themselves in
terms of race, but sees it as vital if race
relations are to improve.
“Whites think of themselves as the
norm in America and race as some
thing people of color have. We see
ourselves as plain Americans, and we
claim center stage for ourselves,”
Hitchcock says.
Hitchcock is not alone. There’s a
growing interest at colleges and uni
versities in taking a critical look at
white culture.
While minority scholars have ex
amined the issue for years, main
stream academic interest is relatively
new, says David Roediger, chairman
of the American studies department
at the University of Minnesota.
“It was always easy to dismiss stud
ies of whiteness from writers of color,”
Roediger says. “But with the increased
diversity in this society, white privi
lege is coming under attack. White
normalcy is being challenged.”
Removing racial myths
Benjamin Bowser, a sociologist at
the California State University at Hay
ward, says it’s a myth that all Euro
pean immigrants eagerly assimilated
into the American ideal of rugged in
dividualism. Belieying that myth,
most whites cannot relate to immi
grants of color who seem more reluc
tant to assimilate and let go of where
they came from, he says.
“When whites study their history,
they see their roots are different from
what they are led to believe,” Bowser
“They understand that they were
forced to give up their cultures, their
languages, their traditions to fit into
what a dominant English minority
considered American culture,” he
says. “Studying it opens emotional
traumas, but whites who do it become
aware of their similarities to other
Hitchcock hopes studying the is
sues will help whites gain a positive
“Many whites feel they have no
culture, or they feel ashamed to be
white because they think it’s only
about oppression,” he says. ‘That
shouldn’t be the case.
“People should feel both pride and
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We have to examine what it means to be
white, but in a non-racist,
non-supremacist way.”
Jeff Hitchcock
i . . ^
shame because all cultures have good
and bad points. We’re not interested
in building up the white culture, but
we’re not going to tear it down either.”
Positive white identity?
Another school of thought among
some academics, known as the New
Abolitionist movement, takes a more
negative view.
“There is no possibility of a posi
tive white identity,” says Noel
Ignatiev, a lecturer at Harvard and an
editor for Race lYaitor, the journal of
the New Abolitionists.
“There may be positives to various
European ethnic identities, but white
ness is purely about the maintenance
of privilege.
“Working-class people accept the
benefits of being white over the ben
efits of a better work situation. Instead
of working with others in the same
position, they say, ‘However bad we’ve
got it, at least we’re white.*”
Others see no value to studying
whiteness. They see it as part of an
mhealthy obsession with difference
hat ignores the shared culture of
“Under the multiculturalism push,
we are putting ourselves into little
x)xes. We are driving lines into our
culture,” says David Murray, a re
searcher at a statistical research foun
dation in Washington, D.C.
“There are no real biological ra
cial differences. Social class has more
consequences than race per se. I’m
sick of what we in the counterculture
tiave done to this country by empha
sizing differences.”
Those who are studying whiteness
call that viewpoint naive.
“Race is the most controversial is
sue in this society, and we need to ad
dress it,” Bowser says. “Until we can
bring all players to the table, we won’t
be able to resolve it.”
Monkeys reproduced
from cloned embryos
Scientists say there
are now fewer
barriers to cloning
WASHINGTON (AP)—Scientists
in Oregon have produced monkeys
from cloned embryos, marking the 1
first time a species closely related to
humans has been cloned.
The scientists used a technique
similar to the one used by Scottish re
searchers last week to clone a sheep,
The Washington Post reported in Sun- 1
day editions.
The Oregon success adds to a 1
growing body of evidence that there
are no insurmountable biological bar
riers to creating multiple copies of a 1
human being, the Post reported. 1
“It demands that we take seriously 1
the issue of human cloning,” Arthur 1
Caplan, a bioethicist at the University ■
of Pennsylvania, told the Post.
But he said cloning is still far too
expensive and results in too many ab
normal embryos to be practical for
humans, notwithstanding the public
outcry over prospects of human clon
“You’re probably heading down
the path to criminal arrest, not the
Nobel Prize, if you try this in people,”
Caplan said.
The Post said two Oregon monkeys
3om in August were cloned from cells
aken from embryos, not an adult mon
cey — a crucial difference between
hem and Dolly, the sheep cloned by
Scottish researchers from ah adult
The cloned monkeys thus are not
genetically identical to any adult mon
The Post said lead researcher Don
Wolf, a senior scientist at the Oregon
Regional Primate Research Center in
Beaverton and director of the human
n vitro fertilization laboratory at Or
egon Health Sciences University in
Portland, said researchers do not plan
o produce clones from adult monkeys.
“This is really an effort to see if
ve can create genetically identical
nonkeys for research,” he said. He
explained that fewer carbon-copy re
search animals would be needed in
irug experiments, for example, be
cause their sameness would eliminate
nuch of the genetic differences that
eonfound such experiments.
The two monkeys cloned in Or
egon are not identical to each other
because they were taken from differ
ent embryos.
But researchers told the Post the
technique could be used to create eight
[>r more identical monkeys from a
single embryo, and that further ad
vances could lead to the ability to make
elones of adults as well.
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appropriate eectlon editor at472
2588 or e-inail
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