James Pasto (pasto@UMBSKY.CC.UMB.EDU)
Sun, 10 Dec 1995 20:22:04 EST

On Wednesday, December 6th, Rob Prince wrote:

... Still I wondered if this wasn't
> some kind of grafting of 1990's realities on a 1950s story with a message
> being something like: Blacks and Orientals can indeed be mainstream
> Americans too if they will only stoop to 1950s - the good old days when
> life was simple values.

This comment and others on the list makes me wonder what we mean by mainstream.
And it makes me wonder if I am a "us" or "them" when it comes to the issue
of cultural sensativity. I'm an Italian-American and many of my 'oriental'-
American friends or aquaintances are much more "mainstream" than I am when
it comes to identifying with American culture. I could say the same for my
family and most of the Italian Americans I grew up with -- many of whom stil
have trouble adjusting to 'mainstream' American culture. Does "mainstream"
mean "white" culture. And if so, what does that mean? Or does it mean, as
Farakhan said, a few men in smoke filled rooms? I don't say this to be a
sly comment. It has been argued that the fostering of a "white" identity was
a conservative tactic to create racial tensions, and to shift the focus of
poverty from an economic issue to a "race" issue. In the world I grew up in
there were "us" (Italians) and "them" (Americans). I did not find out I was
"white" until I entered the university and found out that I my "us" was now
"them!" Peace.

Jim Pasto
Anthropology Department