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The white man's burden.

From "Smothered by 90210," an interview with Dale Warner, a member of the Resisting Defamation Caucus (RDC), in the May 18 issue of the Village Voice. The RDC, based in San Jose, California, is dedicated to countering negative stereotypes of whites in the media. The interview was conducted by Mim Udovitch, a staff writter for the Voice; it appeared as part of "White Like Who?," a series of articles on the experience of being white.

MIM UDOVITCH: Are there any criticisms of European-American culture that you consider just?

DALE WARNER: Yes. We're much too sheep-like, and we don't resist certain elites within our own ethnicity who are not operating in the interests of the greater community. That would be two criticisms ... Oooooh! I want to tell you another criticism. Somehow, European-Americans have forgotten that it's okay to talk about the diversity of their ethnicity with other people. I am stunned at how many people have no idea that the English are different from the Irish. This is a third criticism: we are not telling our story! We are not letting new Americans of other than European origins know about our diversity. I am frankly shocked that we have done that. Latinos have no objection to making it clear that the Hispanic population is remarkably diverse. Asian-Americans have no hesitancy. And we feel that European-Americans should do that too, and we're not. We're just one big blob.

UDOVITCH: Look, I'm a product of the American educational system, and I would not exactly say that anyone ever withheld from me the knowledge that European-American heritage was diverse. On the contrary, information of that kind constitutes approximately 95 percent of any liberal arts education.

WARNER: Not out here.

UDOVITCH: I see. So the colleges of San Jose do not teach Shakespeare. Or Yeats.

WARNER: There's a difference between teaching European artifacts and saying: This was a product of seventeenth-century English culture. This had Irish roots.

UDOVITCH: So you're saying that when they teach Yeats, they say, here's a poet, he's from some European country, they're all the same, figure it out for yourself?

WARNER: Yes. And also we European-Americans are almost embarrassed to talk about it. We need to talk about it with our friends who are not European-Americans a lot more.

UDOVITCH: Do you also object to depictions of European-Americans in the media?

WARNER: We do, as a matter of fact. For example, we object very strongly to TV shows like All in the Family, The Powers That Be, and Beverly Hills, 9021 0. We feel that those programs deliberately hold European-American characters up for ridicule and stereotyping. On 90210 the European-American characters are pretty mindless, pretty shallow, and they're unaware of their ethnicity.

UDOVITCH: And you wouldn't consider that in the greater context of our culture that's not necessarily the sole, definitive image?

WARNER: I think those shows are a very powerful statement of a stereotype that's widely held.

UDOVITCH: And don't you think that's a little paranoid?

WARNER: Paranoid?


WARNER: On our part?


WARNER: Well, let me think about that.

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Title Annotation:Dale Warner, member of Resisting Defamation Caucus
Author:Udovitch, Mim
Publication:Harper's Magazine
Article Type:Interview
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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