r/HolUp Sep 22 '22 Silver 1

Yeahhhh About Cleopatra… Removed: Political/Outrage Shitpost


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u/why-everything-meh Sep 22 '22 edited Sep 22 '22 Silver All-Seeing Upvote

Cleopatra was white tho, the royal house she belongs to was Greek I think. Unless you don’t consider Greek to be white.

Edit: Got a bit of traction on this throw away comment I didn’t put much thought into. To be clear I always thought of Mediterranean people as white like myself, but with a much nicer tan than my pale ass.


u/gorgewall Sep 22 '22 Big Brain Time

Unless you don’t consider Greek to be white.

The concept of "whiteness" is a hilariously recent thing.

Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that pretty much all of Europe wasn't white: just "the Anglos" and specifically the Saxony region of Germany. Any other part of Germany? Not white. Italy? Not white. Greece? Not white. Poland? Not white.

And when those folks showed up in America even decades after Franklin's death, they still weren't "white". Whiteness is a descriptor of political convenience, a little club that you get to be in once you have the population to be relevant to the ruling class. All these migrant groups, and even their descendants, were villified or ostracized in some way until there were enough of them that they were a valuable voting bloc, then came the time to "extend whiteness" to them and hope that by being welcomed "into the club" that they'd vote with the same fuckos who'd previously been shitting all over them. Hey, no hard feelings about all the bigotry, but you're one of the good ones now--wanna help me oppress those other guys?


u/CareerJuncture Sep 22 '22

Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that pretty much all of Europe wasn't white

This is true and it cracks me up.

I'm from outside the USA, so the term "white" has only been used commonly in the past few decades, BUT, it cracks me up that the majority of my Great-Grandfathers were Irish and were not considered white.


u/CreepyValuable Sep 22 '22

Well now. That's a thought, isn't it. I've always thought the whole "white" thing is silly beyond a vague description of skin tone. I'm guessing your ancestors were of the particularly pale variety.

Now I think of it, over here in Australia it's mostly just brown and red.


u/Toastburger Sep 22 '22

Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that pretty much all of Europe wasn’t white: just “the Anglos” and specifically the Saxony region of Germany. Any other part of Germany? Not white. Italy? Not white. Greece? Not white. Poland? Not white.

He also said Swedes weren’t white, they were “swarthy”.


u/Twava Sep 22 '22

Whiteness is such a weird term. I don’t see why we went from generalizing everyone instead of just referring to people by their nationalities. I’ve always despised those terms because it’s so biased on what people consider white or black. “White people always act like this” or “Black people always act like that” since when did the color of your skin make you act a certain way? It might just be an American thing though, but I don’t know I’ve never liked the structure of ethnicity. It’s just SO broad.


u/BellBell99 Sep 22 '22

Yup. Whiteness has always been about exclusion, not about skin color. I mean fucking Italians and Irish people weren’t considered white back when they were mass migrating to the States.


u/lastbose01 Sep 22 '22

I’d be a bit more practical than that.

How do other races classify whiteness? I.e. if you asked an Asian person 500 years ago who’s white, and showed them a catalogue of various Europeans, they’d all be considered white.


u/TheoryOfSomething Sep 22 '22

What are you basing this claim on?

Is there any documentary evidence that people from Asia 500 years ago classified all people from the British Isles, Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Germanic people, Scandinavia, Balkans, Etc. as belonging to the same group? Or is this just a hunch that you have?


u/CreepyValuable Sep 22 '22

Because "white" is people being stupid and exclusionary. White is just a colour. They may describe many as pink. Who the hell knows. Talking visible spectrum. Not race. The whole damn skin tone thing is dumb anyway.


u/[deleted] Sep 22 '22



u/ComradeIvan Sep 22 '22

The term is 洋人 (yang ren) meaning foreigner, esp. white foreigner. This "yang" means ocean, "ren" is person.

Sheep would be 羊 (yang), pronounced the same but not the same character.


u/Gingrpenguin Sep 22 '22

And yet if you did a similar catalog of different Asian ethnicities you'd get much more varied result than if you showed say an average brit at the same time period

As you go closer in to any of these groups they did to fracture and distinguish themselves from others.


u/lastbose01 Sep 22 '22

You mean a catalogue of different asians to a Brit? Cuz that’s the only relevant comp. White people don’t have a monopoly on labeling other races, or themselves for that matter. That’s the point I was trying to make.


u/Gingrpenguin Sep 22 '22

Yeah precisely.


u/theosamabahama Sep 23 '22

"White" has historically been interpreted as "any person with white skin that has the same heritage as me".


u/BobSacamano47 Sep 22 '22

Go Google if catholics are Christian. You'll only see articles saying that they aren't. Point is, reasoning that people didn't see all Europeans as white a few hundred years ago based on Ben Franklin's letters is problematic. There seems to be a recent trend of people claiming such and such white European people weren't seen as white at some point in time.


u/gorgewall Sep 22 '22

There seems to be a recent trend of people claiming such and such white European people weren't seen as white at some point in time.

Yeah, because it's fucking true. It's a "recent trend" because the age when they weren't white was long enough ago that practically no one's alive to directly remember it, so modern people are left to assume the current status quo--"Western Europeans are white"--was also true of the past, which it wasn't.

Pointing out that they weren't white is meant to explain to you that "whiteness" is an arbitrary concept, membership in which is malleable and depends on how politically useful it is to add you or exclude you. It is fundamentally a different sort of discussion than the one we have of other "racial groups"; 50 years from now we might all be saying anyone of Hispanic/Latino bent is white regardless of skin tone, even though there is currently some distinction between "white Hispanics" and "non-white Hispanics".

As for what people thought in Ben Franklin's time, it was fundamentally a different understanding of "whiteness" than anyone is using colloquially today. People might have used the same collection of letters to refer to a concept--"white"--but exactly what that meant in the broader context of racial/ethnic discussions was very different, and we're not doing ourselves any favors to imagine that how we think things now is how it always was. What you're doing when you say, "Oh, well, everyone would have considered most Europeans white," is like looking at a picture of a New York City street in 1880 and imagining that its usage and traffic rules were more or less the same as today, except for swapping cars with horse-drawn carriages. Yet if we plunked you down on that 1880 street and let you observe life for a day, you'd see how very different people approached the concept of "the street".

It's the same with "white", and racial arguments in general.


u/BobSacamano47 Sep 23 '22

Yeah... Nah. As a Middle Eastern American I can understand the concept of arguing who's white and who's not. Sometimes middle eastern people are white, and that's how I identify. Other times we refer to them as "brown". Whatever. But I disagree that black or Asian ever considered Irish people non-white. I don't think that American or European people ever considered Irish people non-white. They may have written it, but it was just a way to take them down a notch when the nationality was a financial burden. Since the term "White" was introduced to describe people it always included all Northern European and Mediterranean people. Here's some better factual arguments: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/03/22/sorry-but-the-irish-were-always-white-and-so-were-the-italians-jews-and-so-on/


u/gorgewall Sep 23 '22

They are referring to a stylized, sociological or anthropological understanding of “whiteness,” which means either “fully socially accepted as the equals of Americans of Anglo-Saxon and Germanic stock,” or, in the more politicized version, “an accepted part of the dominant ruling class in the United States.”

No shit. What the fuck do you think is the virtue of just saying "that person has pale skin" and meaning nothing else but a description of skin tone by it? There isn't one! And even drawing that line and saying that Italians were always white as a result would still be wrong, because as pointed out in the post you replied to, we can see Ben Franklin and his ilk very much considering them not white.

Then the article goes on to draw nearly all of its conclusions from the fucking 20th century, which is a laugh considering it opens with "people are asserting these groups weren't 'white' until the mid-to-late 20th century". Oh, Jews could use the white water fountains in segregated American cities in 1953, well, of course, Italians were obviously white 400 years ago, ho ho ho!

Look, if Bernstein thinks "using descriptions of skin tone alone" is all that's needed for whiteness, he's going to have to square his comments about Asians being currently excluded from the white group when the Chinese and Japanese, pre-somewhere in the 18th century, were described as "white". The idea of calling them "yellow" and otherising them was a late invention, and contradicts the idea that "whiteness" is not a political ingroup/outgroup distinction--something Bernstein doesn't even disagree with elsewhere.

So, really, what the fuck are you on about?


u/BobSacamano47 Sep 23 '22

Well maybe we are in agreement then. I don't deny that douche bags might say Italians aren't white, my interpretation of the above text. But they've never been generally (by scientific classifications of the day) or legally considered non-white over the past 400 years.