I lean over the railing, watching shrieking seabirds swoop overhead, feeling a swift sea breeze rearrange my hair from purposefully tousled to straight up disheveled. Fishing vessels chug out into deeper waters and boats span their sails to catch a  westerly. Lighthouses peak out from rocky coves. Towering homes with waterfront views stake the claim of unseen wealthy residents. Taken as a whole, the scenery panning outward from the deck of the Martha’s Vineyard Ferry is a Norman Rockwell-esque interpretation of New England summertime utopia.

After the ferry docks I stroll through the port town of Vineyard Haven. Stonewalls frame the perfectly manicured lawns of cedar-shingled homes with fresh white trim paint and Nantucket-blue doors. Restaurants proudly boast on hand-painted signs that they sell organic, island-grown food. Bikers zoom up and down the streets, navigating between shiny imports in that annoying, spandex-soldier manner of cycling enthusiasts

I proceed to the rendezvous point and await my friend’s arrival. While I’m standing there a cop approaches.

“Hi, excuse me, sir. I don’t want any trouble or anything, but would you mind not waiting here? This is the taxi pick up zone. I’m sorry to bother you, but it’s for safety reasons.”

I stare at him, perplexed. I’ve never had a cop speak to me like this. I’m used to brutes with sausage arms addressing me with the humanity of RoboCop. This guy is like a boy scout. He’s talking to me in the defensive way I normally speak to an officer.

“Hey pal, move it along,” I tell him. “Go on, beat it, get out. I don’t want to see you around here anymore, understand?”

Okay, I don’t say that. But I’m certain I could get away with it.

My friend pulls up in the taxi zone. I heave my rucksack into the bed of his truck, slide into the passenger seat, and we’re off. The cop gives a friendly wave in parting.

“So what do you think?” says my friend.

“It’s really fucking white here,” I say.

This single, offhand comment serves as the entry point for a goal I loosely set for myself over the course of the month I am to spend in Martha’s Vineyard. The mission: to discern the essence of Whiteness.

Touching down on this island, I feel the way I imagine Darwin did when he arrived on the Galapagos. Although he may not have immediately known the place would give birth to the theory of evolution, surely he must have felt a sense that the creatures there were a portal to some greater truth.

While arguably scientific, my research is nonetheless painstaking. I linger long after my meal is finished at restaurants and listen in on conversations. I lie on the beach, my eyes hidden behind dark aviators, observing the behavior of the vacationing fauna. At supermarkets I keenly observe what people are buying. While a guest in peoples’ homes I make mental inventories of their possessions. I am, in short, a total creep.

Not long into my project I identify three major varieties of American Caucasian. The first demonstrates an inclination to enjoy such things as copious amounts of horsepower, blowing the fuck out of quadrupeds, and speaking derisively of France. They tend to overestimate their physical prowess while underestimating the importance of family planning. These whites are very rare on the island.

The second major type of Caucasian is abundant during the summer months on the Vineyard, tending to winter in other parts of their eastern range, including New York, Boston, Washington, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Virginia. When not driving their high performance four wheel drive vehicles on dry, flat pavement and subtly endorsing eugenics, they generally keep busy by making sure themselves and their family are spared from inhaling the plebian stench of the first type of white person.

By far the largest gathering of Whites on the island occurs within a third group, and it is this variety of Caucasian that ultimately became the subject of my research. With each passing day the master list of ideas, pastimes and objects that define this group grew into a collective snapshot of their essence. Darwin would be proud. In fact, if he was still alive, he would probably be considered among this group.

Things were going great until somebody forwarded me a link to a website entitled Stuff White People Like, which became so popular it earned the author a book deal with Random House.

I had been foiled by my fellow white man; relegated to mere Alfred Russell Wallace status.

Despite my disappointment, there a good number of differences between our lists, enough so that I feel justified sharing a portion of mine. Besides, I’m not going to let weeks of investigation go to waste. If I’ve learned anything from my research, it’s that distinguishing yourself ever so slightly from your peers is, dare I say, the white thing to do.

Thinking they can speak Spanish

When you ask a white person if they speak Spanish, their answer is typically “a little bit” or “some” or “I know a few words.” This is a lie. It is invariably true that all white people can speak a little Spanish. But when pressed, their knowledge rarely extends beyond what one can learn from hanging out at a Taco Bell trying to get laid by the cute little Latina who works the counter. White people somehow think that America’s proximity to Mexico has resulted in lingual osmosis. As impressive as it is that they we as a nation can say tortilla, tequila, hola and adios, this nonetheless does not qualify as speaking Spanish.

Starting a blog

At some point, most white people consider starting or actually start a blog. White people deem their ideas to be highly valuable, as they spend many hours of their life reading, watching documentaries, amassing degrees, and otherwise learning things that will in no way make them more employable. But one-upping others via pseudo-intellectualism is far more valuable to white people than money. A blog offers the perfect forum for them to repackage their unoriginal thoughts and receive undying praise from a handful of family and friends.

Granite countertops

White people revere granite for its strength, durability, breadth of colors and the fact that it appears in the kitchens of other white people. Although granite is considered top of the line, quartz, marble, slate, limestone and soapstone are also acceptable. Faux granite, if it successfully passes as authentic, could earn a white person praise for their clever taste and value consciousness. If it is easily spotted as a knock-off, however, the impostor’s true hard-stone-owning peers might wonder what’s coming next. Engineered wood flooring? An above ground pool? A Daewoo?

Ideally, granite should be matched with stainless steel appliances and illuminated by recessed lighting. Extra whiteness points are awarded to those who do the work themselves, buy environmentally friendly, re-quarried granite, and extend the use of granite into the bathroom. Nothing says white like browsing The Economist on an e-reader while dropping an organically-generated deuce and appreciating the millions of years of geological activity required to form the vanity top.

Yard sales

White people are fond of shunning materialism, and often speak of “decluttering” or “simplifying” their life. Doing so serves as a material cleanse that leaves them feeling morally superior to their hoarding friends and family. Selling possessions at a yard sale, garage sale, rummage sale, flea market, or any other event geared around the purging of old possessions is a good way to achieve this. For the white buyer at a yard sale, they can feel good about not creating more waste and pollution through the manufacture of new products. It’s a whitey win-win.

Salmon clothing

From a young age we are taught that pink is a color appropriate for girls, not boys. But somewhere around high school white guys substitute the word pink for salmon and begin to occasionally wear clothing of this hue. For the white male, wearing pink is a way to demonstrate he doesn’t care what people think and is an individual who eschews established trends. Both of these qualities are extremely important to white people. Salmon haberdashery is also a hit with white people because it is considered more European, and white people generally consider anything from Europe to be more sophisticated.

Knowing the weather forecast

Due to their connection to nature and need to spend as much time as possible outdoors, it is important for white people to know the weather forecast. More advanced white people can even tell you sunrise and sunset times, when high and low tide occurs, and the current lunar phase. Some white people are so gifted that they can explain the difference between scattered and isolated showers as well as partly sunny and mostly cloudy skies.

Having a good vocabulary

Having a good vocabulary is essential for a white person. It is a way to demonstrate that they are well read and intellectual. Among mixed company, a white person may employ big words as a probe to find other white people. However, they must be careful when taking this approach, as it could be perceived as hostile by those whose vocabulary is not so expansive. When this happens, a white person needs to be able to quickly disguise their words to match the prevailing vernacular. For example, if a white guy uses a word like canard or vicissitude, and subsequently draws dirty looks and/or furrowed brows from other males, he needs to quickly be able to find common ground by talking about the local sporting team and/or degrading women.

It is important to note that one white person will never admit they don’t know the meaning of a word used by another white person. If stumped, they will smile and nod in understanding, then use their 3G equipped mobile device to perform an internet search for the word meaning.

Another interesting case occurs when one white person encounters another of equal lingual talents and a subtle vocabulary standoff ensues. When this happens, the winner can usually be decided by determining who has a greater understanding of word etymology, or who has a better vocabulary in a foreign language, as most white people speak or claim to speak at least 2 or 3.

Historical reenactments

Mock Civil War and Revolutionary War battles. The sites of historical battlefields. Living villages where workers dress in colonial garb and present themselves as blacksmiths, candle makers and grocers. Those places where you can watch knights joust while a serving wench brings you a side of beef and a giant glass of ale. If it involves history being reenacted or otherwise kept in the present, then white people are on board. When considered alongside their predisposition for antiquing, it follows logically that white people have an affinity for anything from the past (which they might refer to as rustic, classic, or traditional). Think of the hours of joy an older white man can experience watching the History Channel, or the fact that most white women would give a fallopian tube to live in a Victorian-era home. This also explains, in part, why white people love Europe. Just by going there and walking among the historic buildings, they consider themselves to be more civilized. Focusing on the past also suits white people because they like to bemoan the soullessness of modern life and offer rural, agrarian lives as a utopia.

Having a shitty job when they are young

Young white people are expected to work at least one degrading job when they are young, such as slinging burgers, working on a construction crew, or being sodomized by a priest. Although the work does not have to be physically demanding, it should be low-paying and foster a sense of hopelessness towards a capitalist economy and consumer culture, two institutions that white people will continue to speak derisively about for the rest of their lives.

Having a shitty job is the closest thing white people have to a coming-of-age ritual. Once a white person graduates from university and takes a stable, well-paying, benefited position, they have entered “the real world,” as they like to call it, and are officially an adult. As such, they gain the authority to talk to younger white people about the importance of temporarily scooping ice cream, mopping floors, stocking shelves, etc. They can explain to the youth that in order to become a know-it-all in regards to the shortcomings of Western culture, it is necessary to first gain firsthand experience in one of its more base aspects.

This period is also a vital opportunity for white people to learn tolerance, another principle that they laud. By working alongside and getting to know foreign and uneducated people, white people learn that members of these other groups, despite holding outdated views on health, politics, religion, and aesthetics, are nonetheless decent. This stance is well summarized by a favorite white expression: “They’re not bad people…they’re just ignorant.”

British Accents

If you have a British accent, white people automatically take you to be more attractive, well-spoken and charming. People from England have the purest form of this tongue, although those from other parts of the UK, as well as residents of New Zealand and South Africa, are also acceptable. Australian accents are tolerable as a last resort.

White people perceive a British accent as an oratory superpower that turns a speaker’s every word into mellifluous diction. When George W. Bush and Tony Blair presided over their respective nations, white people found Blair utterly charming, whereas Bush was seen as a pariah, despite the fact that both men lured their country into an unjustified war using bogus information. When watching Blair spew lies and propaganda, white people responded by wondering why they couldn’t have a thoughtful, intelligent, well-spoken leader. But when witnessing similar behavior from Dubya, white people tended to watch Zeitgeist, talk about how America was become Fascist, and reference Orwell’s 1984 ad nauseam.

All white people dream of dating somebody with a British accent. Being seen with even an average-looking man or woman with a British accent instantly raises the credibility of a white person. When asked to explain the appeal, however, white people generally can only offer up unconvincing comparatives such as, “it just sounds more sophisticated/classy/distinguished.” White people also come up empty when attempting to explain why a British inflection virtually disappears when words are sung.

Thinking they are part Native American

White people are, naturally, of European descent. This fact, however, does not keep a great number of them from insisting that they are part Native American. White people who claim to be of Native descent typically follow the same pattern. They begin by offering a fractional amount of their heritage, such as ¼, 1/8, 1/16, etc. and end by referencing a shadowy family legend about the Native American in question. A comment may also be made about just missing the cutoff that allows people of Native ancestry free admission to Dartmouth. They may go on to attribute their dubitable genetics to a great number of things, including athleticism, woodcraft skills, and the inability to hold their liquor.

White people consider all things Native American, like those from Europe, to be wiser and more desirable. While they have no idea how to live off the land and in harmony with nature, white people still pay lip service to the value of such a lifestyle. It is also en vogue for white people to speak out against the genocide of Native Americans and shun the barbarism of Manifest Destiny. But the fact remains that white people have a much better chance of being related to somebody who killed a Native American in the name of Caucasian dominance than actually having a Native American relative.

TAGS: , , , , , , , ,

BRIAN ECKERT recently gave up his SUV and life in an idyllic New England seaside town for a single speed bicycle and the smog of Beijing, China is back from China and living in Denver, Colorado. Check out more at his website.

48 responses to “The Whitest Summer on Record”

  1. Joe Daly says:

    Brian-

    Thank you for this discomforting and hilarious walk into my soul. You built up to such a funny premise, and then right around Granite Countertops the insanity began. So, so true…

    I’ve only been to the Vineyard once, and I didn’t really take a shine to it. To be fair, this was partially due to my inability to drive a stick, and then renting a Jeep that not only required me to drive stick, but the worst, stickiest, stick in all of Massachusetts. So take me with a grain of salt.

    But did you notice that it’s hard to go a couple hours without someone solemnly advising you, “You know, the number one cause of death on Martha’s Vineyard is moped accidents?” Drove me nuts…

    Good stuff, homie!

  2. Brian Eckert says:

    I’m a step below the moped here bro…the ten speed. Luckily, white people recognize the need to provide a wide berth to bikers and pedestrians.

    I’ve come to really like the Vineyard. It can be a bit closed and small townish, I think especially so for year round residents. However, I like the way they roll. For example, they have the only nude beach in the Northeast, and charge 2% to every homeowner to set aside land for preservation. Good, smart people here. Fucking expensive, though.

    Thanks for giving it a read man. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was a project of sorts, and as such, it is nice to finally publish the finished project, kick my feet up, pop open a PBR and think how awesome it is to be white.

  3. dwoz says:

    Don’t you just love it, and hate it, when a bit of writing holds a mirror up in front of your face?

    I was chuckling at the granite. Too exact. Spanish. Yeah, I spent a year in Mexico when I was 12. American Indian. Great Grandmother Cora was a Mohawk. Maybe. Almost certainly. And last week as I sat on the green at Dartmouth, I pondered whether it could ever have been finagled into tuition there for my kids. Cooking pizza at Pizza Hut.

    And here I thought I was a multicultural kind of guy.

  4. Brian Eckert says:

    Hey d, after working on this piece for about a month I’m ready for other people to start looking into that mirror. Don’t feel bad about not being multicultural. Living in Strafford, at least we can say it’s not our fault. Thanks for reading man.

  5. dwoz says:

    I have an odd Martha’s Vineyard story. I played in a band, and we got a gig on MV. We rode over on the ferry, with our van packed up with gear. The one guitarist had an old friend who lived on the island year-round…he was a sign painter.

    He also had a little 2 acre farm in the middle of the island. He would go out to the side of his barn, and contemplate life as he cleaned his weed, and toss the seeds and stems into the sheep manure pile. Every few months he would have to take a power weed-whacker to the pile,and cut down the plants that threatened to overtake the roof of his little sheep barn. He’d just plow it back into the pile, since he already had bags of massive bud in storage. He didn’t believe in selling it, not just because he didn’t want the legal risk…so he’d let people help themselves, and just re-compost the rest.

    This was many years ago. The crowd loved the band, too.

  6. I’ve only been to the Vineyard once, and I spent the entire time walking around with my chest puffed out because someone told me Winona Ryder was vacationing that week. That’s another thing white people do. Or at least white college students of a certain age: fantasize about Winona Ryder falling in love with them while shooting a mean game of pinball at a Vineyard bar.

    White people are also good at dying in reasonably attractive/mysterious ways as to fuel months of programming for Nancy Grace. White people are good at being kicked in the balls in beer commercials. They’re also good at genially accepting jokes about wearing flannel.

    “….speaking derisively of France….” Ah, it’s so true. The poor French are the other last bastion of safe things to skewer. I tend to eat my Freedom Fries while scowling alone in a dark corner.

  7. Brian Eckert says:

    Obama was just here. That dude rolls deep. I think he might have returned my wave, but maybe he was just signaling the Secret Service. I desperately wanted to work in something about the “white wave”, you know the one where two white people pass each other on a perfect sunny day and there is that subtle wave or head nod or smile, as if to say, “damn its good to be white, huh?”

    That’s true about white guys in beer commercials. I mean, there’s usually the token black guy, but he never gets hit in the nuts.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Brian, you’re getting another post out of your hootly-perfect responses to comments, to wit: “That’s true about white guys in beer commercials. I mean, there’s usually the token black guy, but he never gets hit in the nuts.”

  8. Judy Prince says:

    As a woman who just gave her Fallopian tube for a Victorian-era house in England, and who’s at last bagged an Englishman (scratch that—-he’s even better than an Englishman—–he’s a Scot!), I totally heaved my white guts into this with lots of (what’s the Spanish word?) HOOP HOOP HOOTy laffs, which when I hit the Granite Countertops bit got even HOOPIER!

    Spot on, all the way, Brian. Thanks for the Whitefolks check.

    • Brian Eckert says:

      Judy, hope the F.T. was worth it (though I’m sure it was.) Thanks for reading. Just remember when you are dicing up your organic meal on that granite countertop, listening to the musical intonation of your husband’s voice, that you are white and you kick ass.

      • James D. Irwin says:

        I don’t have a fallopian tube, but I’m pretty sure I’d trade one for a nice Victorian house.

        Scotsmen better than the English?! Outageous!

        Actually, aside from Andy Murray, I can’t think of any Scotsman I haven’t liked. My Grand Uncle lives in Edinburgh. Scotland is lovely, and Scottish girls are sweet. (Apart from the Glaswegian crack whores you always see on Taggart).

        • Judy Prince says:

          Irwin, I’ve only been to Glasgow in Scotland because that’s where Rodent hails from, though he has, sadly, degenerated in his speech so that he sounds English-American.

          But, there is much awesome about Scottishness: the dialects themselves, but also the uber-independence reflected in their historic pragmatic reactions to (i.e., effective rejections of) their particularly bad monarchs, their status as an independent nation before England encroached, their Brit-unique educational systems, and their rocklike belief in pragmatic socialism.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          I’ve been to Glasgow twice. It’s nice, but not as pretty as Edinburgh.

          The best thing about Scotland is either shortbread or scotch.

          I do like their education system. I could see myself living in Edinburgh, I think. Scotland is beautiful.

      • Judy Prince says:

        Thanks, Brian, for the reminder of my coolness’s source. It’s so Tea Party!

        Now to my carob powdered vanilla ice cream.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Oh hey, Brian, what’s a Fallopian tube give-up when a Victorian-era house in England’s at stake? The other tube’s still intact, awaiting purchase of antique furniture for the house.

      I’m really smiling face-wide now as I re-read your post. This is only one of the many wonderful bits: “Nothing says white like browsing The Economist on an e-reader while dropping an organically-generated deuce and appreciating the millions of years of geological activity required to form the vanity top.”

      HAHAHAHAH!!!

  9. I have a lot of friends whop hate that “White People” book and blog. They say it’s racist because it implies people who aren’t white don’t like these things… Which is silly. I think it’s hilarious. White people are funny. We do silly things, that must look so silly to people who either aren’t white or aren’t from places that are as predominantly white as New England or Scotland.

    My favourite part of the book was always: “Having a black friend” and “Asian girls.”

    • Brian Eckert says:

      I’m not sure about Scotland, but NH is about 99.987647% white. Ironically, I had 2 black guys on my road growing up, brothers, and one of them was married to a survivor of the Holocaust. There are pockets out there. But by moving to higher latitudes white people manage to stay in relative blanco bliss.

      • James D. Irwin says:

        ”…blanco bliss.”

        I see you speak a little Spanish, white boy…

      • Haha, your “higher latitudes” comment makes me think white people choose cold places because we blend in. Camouflaged in the snow.

        There’s a joke in Scotland that there are actually no white people here… it’s so cold that we’re all really a pale shade of blue.

  10. James D. Irwin says:

    Fantastic post.

    I didn’t think the accent thing was true until I visited America. A lot of people got pretty excited to talk to a genuine, bona fide British person.

    White people are pretty lame.

    • Brian Eckert says:

      Thanks, James. I have to agree that white people are a little bit lame, but in a hip, cool, “I know I’m lame so its not lame” way.

  11. Becky Palapala says:

    While they have no idea how to live off the land and in harmony with nature, white people still pay lip service to the value of such a lifestyle. It is also en vogue for white people to speak out against the genocide of Native Americans and shun the barbarism of Manifest Destiny.

    I don’t know if you’re a facebooker, Brian, but if you are, look up a page called “old native american photos” (or something to that effect). This one guy has hundreds and hundreds of cool old photos, sorted by tribe and ranging from the 1860s to the 1950s.

    The pictures alone are cool, but also, since I’ve started following the page and looking at the pictures and reading the comments, I’ve been baffled by the total shamelessness of devotion to “noble savage” idealization–the cloying racist cousin of just plain old regular racism. It’s really a unique case study, especially when some unsuspecting, curious white person with no real knowledge of Native American peoples or cultures asks a genuine, honest, and innocent, if ignorant, question and is absolutely skewered–almost exclusively by his/her fellow white people.

    • Brian Eckert says:

      Hey Becky, thanks for giving it a read. I am indeed a facebooker….who isn’t? I actually took a native american studies course in university b/c I had some electives to burn, and it was really eye opening when the actual literature and history of Native Americans met the hokey idealizations that white people cling to. The most startling thing is that there really is no concrete history. It is so difficult to actually piece together N.A. history into a moving, breathing story line. There are just bits and pieces strewn across libraries and publications. I went all around New England to these obscure Native American libraries held on tribal lands, looking for these books that had 1 or 2 relevant paragraphs, and encountering surviving tribe members living in more or less poverty, where in the distance another tribe had managed to secure casino rights and were cashing in. Grim to say the least.

  12. Becky Palapala says:

    Also, I don’t speak Spanish. Not since high school. But I do know Italian, and between that and high school, I can mostly read Spanish and understand it if it’s spoken slowly enough.

    Does this count? Am I white?

  13. Brian Eckert says:

    hmmm…that’s a tough one. Actually understanding a little bit of spanish makes you less white…but actually knowing Italian makes you more white. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Wonderful, Brian: ” . . . understanding a little bit of spanish makes you less white…but actually knowing Italian makes you more white.”

      • Becky Palapala says:

        But it bears mentioning that the view that Italians are even white people is relatively recent.

        • Judy Prince says:

          “But it bears mentioning that the view that Italians are even white people is relatively recent.” True it is, Becky, at least in the bits of USAmerica where I’ve lived.

        • Gloria says:

          My boys’ great grandparents (my ex-husband’s grandparents) were born and bred in Italy and came over to America in the late 20s. Therefore, the boys are 1/4 Italian. And I’m about as white as you can get. So are they ethnically Italian or ethnically white? (And by white, I mean an indecipherable European mutt.) This debate has always confused me.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I believe it depends who you ask.

          If you ask me, I say they’re white.

          If you asked my (Swedish-American) grandmother, she’d say they were 1/4 Mediterranean bohunk-types.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          She’d be mostly joking, btw. But joking with that sense that at some point in her life and certainly in her parents’ lives, it was believed to be true.

        • Gloria says:

          I had to Google bohunk. Isn’t that an offensive epitaph? Why, Becky!

        • Becky says:

          They were different times. And she was part Czech, if only a little, so even by the modern rules, she’s allowed. Good ol’ Grandma.

        • Brian Eckert says:

          I was under the impression that Italian ethnicity could also be stretched to fall under the rubric of Latins.

        • Becky says:

          I thought they were in with Turks and Greeks. Though it probably didn’t mater given recurrent fracases with the French and, ironically, taking the wrong side in ww2. They were just generally in trouble.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Okay. Well now I see that it may have also had something to do with the Roman crucifixion of Jesus.

          Which really isn’t a race issue, necessarily.

          But their depiction as “swarthy,” as one site put it, calls up the dark-haired/dark-skinned “other,” regardless of the specific racial stock they were associated with.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      I can also understand Hawaiian pidgin! But no white person who wasn’t born there should try to speak it.

      It just sounds ridiculous.

      It’s one of those things where it’s actually insulting to native speakers when you try.

  14. Zara Potts says:

    Ha Ha – Australia accents are tolerable as a last resort!!
    You have no idea how happy that makes this New Zealander!!
    I really enjoyed this, Brian. I am a fan of ‘Stuff White People Like’ and I’m horrified at how much of it can be applied to whiteys all over the globe. White people are silly!

  15. Brian Eckert says:

    Hah…there were so many things that I wanted to work into the post but didn’t…maybe now I can get them all!

  16. Kymberlee says:

    Ha!!! Thank you for this opportunity to laugh at myself and my culture. Pure fabulousness. I attend Antioch University and I often laugh at a bunch of mostly white people bemoaning our whiteness. While I do take all of that seriously because the colonial way of being is harmful, it’s also hilarious to me how much we think WE are the answer. I love the mirror approach. I think I’ll go post this on my blog. 😉

    • Brian Eckert says:

      Glad you enjoyed it, Kymberlee. Which branch of Antioch do you attend? The one in Keene? I ask because I am a NH native.

      Where can I read your blog?

  17. Dana says:

    I chuckled and chortled through out this Brian! I’d say this deserves the humor tagmore than travel though, as I’ve never been to the vineyard and still identified with this to the bottom of my guilty white heart. Fwiw, my french/English grandfather claimed 1/8th Cherokee heritage based solely on his jet black hair that was likely much ado about Grecian Formula.

    Loved this!

  18. Brian Eckert says:

    Thanks, Dana. You’re probably right about the tag. Grecian almost sounds like an Indian word…try to pass it off to some unsuspecting strangers. “Yeah, I’m 1/16 Grecian.”

  19. Jordan says:

    Hey Bri,

    Saw some dude dwoz posted something on one of your other pieces about his daughter Kira going to coe-brown. Fairly certain I sat next to a Kira Wozmack in Ms. Milligan’s 9th grade natural science class. Think they moved to Kearsarge or something like that after Freshman year. Small world.

    Anyway, good looks on the writing. Look me up when you end up in New York.

  20. Don Mitchell says:

    All well-done and interesting, and I understand your using the Vineyard as the stepping-stone to your white people riff. Nicely done.

    But. When I was in grad school, Boston area, mid-sixties, our department secretary’s family had a house on the Vineyard that they’d had for years, and she used to invite her favorite students down on weekends and in the summer. So I was there many times.

    Here’s the “but” part. I remember being told that there was in fact a decent-sized black community on the Vineyard, that black families had been there a very long time and were thoroughly part of the place. And I remember seeing black faces on the ferry, too.

    So is that all gone? Did something change? Or is my memory a false one?

  21. Brian Eckert says:

    Don, thank you for reading and responding. In regards to your “but” there are indeed many black families who frequent the Vineyard, and traditionally, the island has been known as a vacation spot for well-off black U.S. families. In fact, there is an area known as the “Inkwell” in Oak Bluffs.

    Maybe it is not obvious in my essay, but white, to me, is more than just skin color. it is about class. The white people I refer to are generally upper middle class, and as such, hold certain values. I would argue that these values are held by a majority of Vineyard residents, white, black, brown, yellow or other. I’m not going to say that black people who come to the vineyard are pretty much the same as white people, as that would be a gross generalization. At the same time, it certainly is not a case of Ebony and Ivory. So yes, there are many black people at the Vineyard, but I do not think that they are bound to lower levels of income, poverty, single-parent homes, etc. that African Americans in this country traditionally must endure. They are well-educated, materially-comfortable and privy to all of the opportunity that entails. Because of that, I feel that they would fall comfortably into the class-centered interpretation of “white” that I used for the essay, and did not warrant a tangential paragraph or two (and I did consider mentioning the abundant black families one can find on the Vineyard). Hope this answers your question.

    • Don Mitchell says:

      Yes, I’m glad to hear your reasoning, and I agree.

      I’ve always believed that class trumps race, almost all the time, and most of the discussions of “race” in the US are really about social class.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *