catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 11 :: 2007.06.01 — 2007.06.15




White is
a blank

A space to be filled with old, old stories
of immigration, of holiness in a new world, of keeping the garbage can under the sink

An empty page on which to map my identity,
the journey of a people whose only remaining connection to a mother tongue
is an ethnic surname and quaint phrases we translate with a question mark

A piece of unlined paper not large enough on which to print my apologies
for the Dutch, the Europeans, the Christians, the Americans, myself

A poster board on which to display my knowledge of and passion for
ethnic cuisine, international folk art, justice in global trade
under the heading

Because I think the opposite of white pride
is white shame

it is not clear to me
what exactly this Name means
and no one wants to study
no one wants to celebrate
the oppression of a privilege

The topic of ethnicity is a difficult one for me to write on and it
only became more difficult the more I read for it.  First, it’s
hard to separate the subject of ethnicity from the subject of race,
another one on which I have had and still have many questions about my purpose and
identity and which many are arguing against as a myth.  In
addition, I question whether my immediate response to my ethnic
identity—Dutch—is really descriptive, or if it’s an attempt to distance
myself from the world’s hatred of the U.S. and our country’s trajectory
toward “meta-ethnicity”.

According to Wikipedia (yes, I turn to such things in an attempt to
understand my core identity), “In English, Ethnicity goes far beyond
the modern ties of a person to a particular nation (e.g., citizenship),
and focuses more upon the connection to a perceived shared past and
culture.”  I do feel a certain connection to other Dutch North
Americans, but there are many factors that make that connection
increasingly unstable, including an ongoing reputation for moving in
ethnic clusters, a movement toward mega-church models in historically
Dutch faith communities and my own desire to belong to an ecumenical,
multi-ethnic community.  Paradoxically, my efforts as well as
relationships like marriages outside of the Dutch subculture eventually
dilute even the possibility of claiming a Dutch American identity, even
if I wanted to. 

So is this confusion what Kingdom citizenship is all about?  This
is a place that’s less secure, less comfortable, more difficult to
describe, more dependent on true community—I suppose that sure does
sound a lot like an already-but-not-yet state of being.  But let
the Kingdom not be represented by meta-ethnic homogeneity, but by being
a place where curiosity and questions about the cultures of ourselves
and others abound.

“After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could
count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with
palm branches in their hands…” (Rev. 7:9).

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