European-Americans versus White-People!

I have found it odd that groups are often referred to as “hyphenated Americans” except for one, and that I rarely ever encounter the label used or even discussed. If some of us are Native-Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans - then why not European Americans? The advantage I think there is in using this term is that it brings us into parity. Terms such as African-American are used on the one hand for solidarity within the group, but also by a majority in an exclusionary sense - that “white people” often perceive themselves and each other as The Default, not hyphenated because they are just normal Americans. (or USians, but that’s another discussion) So I see using European-Americans as having the advantage of reminding people that they too are immigrants, that their traditions and customs are of a certain time and place, and not indigenously American.

Another benefit of doing so I think is clarity between using labels to discuss region, race, or ethnicity - which I am sure that people here will be aware are very different ways to frame identity. When we describe everybody else by region, we are comparing apples with oranges if we contrast this against white. So whatever groupings we use become more consonant, and it also serves as a reminder that continent does not equal race. Not all Africans are black, just as not all Euros are white. And it has the effect of pointing out instances of colonialism when people appropriate something as being European in a way which might be less obvious when discussing race/color itself.

What do you think? Is that reasoning sound? Flawed? Anything I am missing there? Do people in some disciplines or media already make this distinction?


Well sure, but as with so many of your other proposals for redoing social interactions, good luck with that.

There’s a reason for that: membership in the (white) norm has its privileges. Even when “white” folks come to realize how unfair that is, they’re rarely willing to do anything towards giving it up.


Sort of. But just like like so many others things I try to discuss with people here, it is not ultimately about what “they” unfairly do, but rather what “we” do in our daily lives. Others societal power is not a given, it is ceded to them, in thousands of little ways. People demonstrate every day here that how we phrase differences of race, gender, and class make very real differences in quality of life and social outcomes over time.

Is it not worth doing simply because it is me who suggests doing it? Or because it doesn’t work if we do? Instead of reinventing the wheel, this seemed like an obvious consideration that should have come up before, so I thought I’d ask. Since some groups have been using European-Americans as a dog whistle for white clubs recently, it seems like good jiu-jitsu to encourage the term, if not the cause behind it.

I think this is why some people avoid it. An anti-fascist group recently noted that people like this guy regularly use European American to mean white, to avoid getting into trouble:

This is a minefield, of course, with competing meanings attached to it, especially since who is considered properly European has been a historically moving definition. It used to be synonomous with Anglo-German protestants, and has in the last century expanded to included pretty much all European ethnicities (including Jews, although that’s slipping). [quote=“popobawa4u, post:1, topic:98225”]
The advantage I think there is in using this term is that it brings us into parity.

I’m not sure what you mean here? If European Americans have historically been the most socially powerful group in the US, what parity are we getting to here? What do you mean by parity? [quote=“popobawa4u, post:1, topic:98225”]
So I see using European-Americans as having the advantage of reminding people that they too are immigrants

Many European Americans also have the privilege of being able to point to much more specific locations of immigration. I can point to a town on a map to tell you were at least one part of my family came from. On the other side, my grandmother had a book of her families history. Quite a few white Americans can also make specific claims of heritage that many African Americans can’t, because of how much harder it is to trace back ancestry through the period of enslavement. But of course, many African Americans can claim to have been here longer than my family, even if their ancestors were enslaved. Perhaps they have stronger claims to being Americans and having built this country than I do myself.

So… I’m really not sure what you’re attempting to correct here. I’m all for having a better understanding of one’s own personal family background, as well as the larger picture of migrations of various kinds into the US (from those who were enslave, indentured servants, forced out as refugees, or who came with plenty of privilege and $$$).


Hmm. There are white people from outside Europe, but we don’t consider them white, especially here in the US. We don’t consider Arabs or North Africans white, even though they’re technically Caucasian. We use the term "white " to refer to Northern and Western Europeans, Eastern and Southern Europeans (grudgingly) whose families have been here a few generations and who don’t have accents, and (very grudgingly) some Jews.

1 Like

All geographies have changing definitions of population, Europe is not special in this regard. Also I do not see different meanings as “competing”, because I have no expectation that any need to “prevail” at the expense of others, they are just different.

I mean simple parity of category, If classes of people are going to be referred to in public discourse by region (as has been happening) rather than race, then it would make more sense to be consistent about it. If people want to discuss the differences of black people as compared to white people, that’s a completely different discussion than African-Americans compared to European-Americans. Instead I often encounter people comparing (for example) the comparisons of African-Americans to those of white people. Obscuring the distinction between heritage of region and heritage of race. Apples and oranges.

I am too. But it is more of a curiosity about trends in how I find the terms used in mass media and online discourse.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.