fun with de-centering whiteness


For example - talking to Amy's sons Gabe and Sam over dinner the other night, and Gabe, who's studying Norse culture, is telling about how when Viking sailors built a settlement in North America they turned the native Americans there against them by giving gifts of milk, yogurt and cheese.

Seems the indigenous people got sick, supposed they'd been poisoned. Not a good intro to neighbors. Of course, neither group knew about lactose intolerance. But what I didn't realize until Gabe explained it is that the ability to digest cow's milk is a genetic mutation. Handy if you have cows around but otherwise, as in the Americas for example, not a survival aid.

I'd always thought of it in reverse. I mean, I thought most everyone had this ability to digest cow's milk. The human norm. And then there were a few subgroups who for some reason did not have that ability. They had a condition, a flaw . . .

But it's lactose tolerance that's the aberration, the mutation. I am in the subgroup. In the U.S. though, European descendants are the dominant majority (I almost wrote "happen to be in..." but no "happen" about it). So their way can seem like THE way. The center.

Thanks Gabe! Not just for the interesting history piece but for telling it in a way that de-centered whiteness. And Sam, younger, is studying a period he calls "The Conquering of the Americas."

Can you guess they're home schooled? And they can cook like the dickens, too. With or without dairy products.

Here's a map, not a great one, but gives some idea of the cultural distribution.