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Sundays are Fundays: Skype Conversations

If there is one thing that I never have to worry about on the weekend, it is this: will I have anyone to hang out with? Anything to do?

The answer is always yes. I have a great group of friends both near and far, and seemingly-unending opportunities for coffee dates, conversations, and other fun times. Like this conversation with a (non-white, male) friend.

(Disclaimer: this may open up some concerns regarding racist tendencies among my friends. If this conversation is bothersome to you, I'm happy to discuss.)

Friend: so Beth, how white would you consider yourself to be and how white are you really

Beth: uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh?what's the scale? how do i measure?

Friend: its an open question, you can choose to answer both questions however you feel like

Beth: okay.
Beth: i would consider myself 90% white. but i'm really only 75% white.

Friend: realllllllyy. wow.

Beth: see, i don't know what your scale is like. so that might mean something different to you than it does to me.

Friend: i always thought it would be like 50%, 85%. i guess the first thing is that i thought your numbers would be flipped, that you would consider yourself less white than you actually are, but you consider yourself more white than you actually are
. the numbers are arbitrary, i dont care about the numbers

Beth: ah.

Friend: so, your numbers, what they tell me is that you consider yourself really white, but in reality you arent as white as you think you are
. do you like being more white than you think you are? or less white than you think you are

Beth: ha ha. i think that this falls apart. because i am the one who has said i'm more white than i think i am. which is impossible.

Friend: yea... seriously, its "interesting" that you picked numbers that looked like that. did you want to change it then?

Beth: yup. i have no idea.

Friend: what...?
beth, seriously. no means that you have zero perception of yourself. but i think that you are smart, and introsepctive

Beth: i am. well, introspective at least ;) it's just a weird thing to ask. because you're asking for my opinion on how white i am, and then how white i _really_ am. how could they be different numbers?

Friend: well, actually, what ends up happening is that the person answers the first question as to how white do they desire to be and then they give a bit more of an "accurate" value to the second question
. as in, i would like to think that i am 50% white, but in reality i am 85% white

Beth: ah. but i know myself too well to have different numbers :)

Friend: ok, i can agree with that
. so, what would your numbers be

Beth: 90. but i wish i was at a 75

Friend: hmmm so, why do you choose 90

Beth: because i'm white. i grew up white...a couple asian kids in my classes...i don't think i ever ate authentic ethnic food until i was in university.

Friend: so, in what ways could you be 75% white

Beth: i like ethnic food. i've travelled internationally. i understand some things around foreign cultures. i listen to non-american music.

Friend: oh sorry, i dont think i asked that question very well. i guess what im asking is, if you want to be less white than what you are right now, what else would you want to do to drop from 90 to 75, or what more rather

Beth: oh. well, i live with a non-white person, and two more people who lived in foreign countries. that helps. so maybe if i marry a non-white man? (is that what you're getting at? is this all an elaborate ploy to hit on me!??!?)

Friend: could you marry a non-white man?? lol, well, ill be honest, i was talking with Friend #2 and he said something about how you are reallllly white. which i didnt really believe off-hand but i like Friend #2 and respect him, and figured, he probably is right, i should just ask beth how white she really is. which is why we are having this conversation

Beth: you didn't ask him why he thinks i'm really white?

Friend: the pinnacle of my conversation with Friend #2 was that you are so white, that he couldnt see you in a relationship with a non-white person. yea, i didnt bother asking him, because we were actually talking about something else, and this topic sort of happened

Bizarre. So today I texted Friend #2. "I heard you think I'm too white to date any other ethnicity."

He responded. "Uhhh. Yeah. I'm sure he didn't tell you the context of the convo. I wouldn't say you're too white. I say you're too Canadian to date an immigrant."

Our conversation transitioned to Skype:

Friend #2: I think you can marry anyone you want. As long as that person is not an immigrant

Beth: well, i'm a) glad to have your permission and b) still unclear as to why you think it wouldn't work.

Friend #2: I would say that you are pretty white Canadian and since you're an independent woman, it would be difficult for you to marry someone not from Canada who has some balls. And I don't think you would marry a ballless man

Beth: well, i would prefer a husband with working anatomy. and what you're saying is that you think immigrants are wimps?

Friend #2 I just think you probably wouldn't date a guy with a mommy complex, and there would be some big issues if the guy didn't value your (independence) I think it's easier for a white guy to marry a fob than than for a white girl. Anyone, not just you. Anyways, don't's not a judgement call on you. It's just a random (Friend #1) conversation

Moral of the story: my non-white male friends feel more strongly that I wouldn't do well with a non-white, non-Western man than I do. And they talk(ed) about this.


Karen said…
I... I have so many issues with those conversations. It's like my Race-o-Radar pinged so hard it broke. As did my Gen-dar.
Laura J said…
I have no issues with this conversation whatsoever. Cultural differences and expectations, especially in relationship, can cause a lot of strife. I speak of this from personal experience. Acknowledging that some of us may be more entrenched in our "canadianness" is wise. Especially when it comes to us strong willed women.

Beth, I think you should marry a strong willed Scottish or Irish man.
Beth said…
karen - i like how you phrased this :) and although i think i can guess your thoughts, i do want to hear them. here or in an email?

laura - duly noted. we will fight rowdily our entire lives and raise children with crazy hair and pale, pale skin.
Jill said…
i thought it was a pretty interesting, if not PC, conversation.

ok, so now I'm just curious, where do 1st generation Canadians or 2nd gens fall into the picture?
Karen said…
Sure... an e-mail is on its way, after my brain has percolated it into coherence.
Sarah said…
Very interesting to read and think about. I think I may understand what Friend #2 was getting at, but maybe I would have phrased it differently. The whole "white" vs. "non-white" idea lumps together a lot of cultures that are very different from each other. And just because a certain culture tends to be a certain way doesn't mean there aren't exceptions, people who are different from what we might consider normal for the part of the world they come from.

How likely is it that friends 1 & 2 would marry "white" women?
Beth said…
jill - great question...i think that is where the black/white lines that we drew become less clear...

to be honest, i think it really varies from individual to individual - no matter whether they are first/second/brand-new or not-even Canadians.

sarah - i agree that these are big generalizations and that there are always exceptions...and i know neither of my friends would disagree. (for the record, friend #2 is with a caucasian woman. friend #1...i'm not sure.)

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