The Unmarked Dominant

Pamela Perry’s article I thought was a very interesting study. Perry lives with these students for a period of 2 years where she studies their popular culture. To my understanding, I saw that Perry’s question could be “Why is whiteness not associated to terms such as ethnicity or culture?”

I would say that from the two high schools Perry studied, Clavey would be more like the high school I went to but there are more differences than similarities. I went to a catholic Puerto Rican high school, therefore anyone who is white or European (maybe less than 1% of the school) would be those considered the minority. If you ask any student in the school “what is white culture?” they will all have an answer for you. Puerto Ricans see white culture as “American” culture. Unfortunately just like white people have stereotypes for us, we have for Americans. They watch football, tailgate, drink lots of beer, they only eat hot dogs and burgers and are very ignorant to other cultures. At least this is how the “gringo” stereotype is defined.

The two processes of reproducing whiteness are naturalization and rationalization. Naturalization is when whiteness is the baseline for normal. Like when Colbert said he just sees everyone is white so there’s no race. On the other hand, rationalization is basically that all things that seem “cultural” are different and therefore not part of the whiteness norm.

I cannot say that I saw either of these in my high school because I did not go to school in the states and since we are all “cultural” that is just our norm. I would not say that we have a naturalization process, a kind of unmarked dominant with latinoness instead of whiteness, because we are able to define our culture. It’s there.

One thought on “The Unmarked Dominant

  1. Given the colonial relationship between Puerto Rico and the US, I can see how even though Latino culture is the majority, whiteness would still come with a sort of privilege, but it’d need to be defined because there is a norm and it’s openly different. I’d be interested to know how much of what white culture is considered to be in Puerto Rico is defined by the white minority themselves or by the Puerto Rican majority ascribing it to the white minority.

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