The interplay between individualism and racism is one that is incredibly complex. For example, the main crux of racism is the idea that one’s racism is superior to either another specific race or all of the races. When Adolf Hitler talked about the Aryan Race, he touted it as the most superior of all the races. Racism preys on the idea that a group is all the same and the group as a whole is better than those who are different. In that sense, individualism and racism are polar opposites. Racism is not looking for individuals it is looking for conformity. What is interesting to me, however, is that racism is so embedded in history that there is an element of individuality to the race, itself. While the individuals are not seen as individuals, rather as part of one homogenous blob, the collective does have an aspect of individualism.
When it comes to whiteness as a racial category, I think this is partly a failure in “white” households to hold up the cultural differences that make everyone unique. At the same time, however, when I look at the idea of whiteness, I see it as a primarily American problem. As someone who grew up here, I am not aware of this idea of whiteness as a racial category being prevalent in Italy or France or Eastern Europe. Because of this, I think using race as an identifier is incredibly unfair and inaccurate. Whiteness should not be an identifier, an individual’s cultural background should be an identifier. Someone who is white and from Georgia is incredibly different than someone who is white and from Oregon or Canada. Race is the easy way to describe or classify someone and it is a cop-out.