Whiteness as a Social Construct: Gamergate Hero Edition

How many white people are in this picture: one, two, or zero?

How many white people are in this picture: one, two, or zero?

It’s interesting how whiteness is assigned to people. It should be simple, yet so many exceptions exist. For example, Barack Obama is considered black, although he’s half-white. Rachel Dolezal was outed for being secretly white, after altering her appearance and telling people she was black. White people in antebellum Louisiana followed the one-drop rule, meaning if you had any black ancestry, you too were black; and they had all kinds of delicious names for the various shades of blackness that resulted from miscegenation.

Sometimes, the only difference between white people and non-whites is that other white-labeled people acknowledge them as white. For example, two people could come from the same country, immigrate to the US, and one might be labeled “white” by his peers while the other is designated as non-white.

On the left is Eron Gjoni. Most people in Gamergate agree that he is a white guy.

On the right is Anita Sarkeesian. Many Gamergaters believe (or used to believe, or, at the very least, claim) Anita is not white, but Jewish or Latina. Some Sarkeesian-obsessed wingnuts have claimed Anita only pretends to whiteness: i.e. “she bleached her skin“, or learned to smile “like a white person”.

In fact, Eron and Anita have just one thing in common: both are children of Armenian immigrants. Gjoni even spent a significant portion of his early childhood in Armenia. (Sarkeesian, for those interested, was born in Toronto.) But when #Gamergaters acknowledge Sarkeesian is Armenian, Armenians themselves lose their white status, becoming “palette-swapped Jews”.

So who is white: Gjoni, Sarkeesian, both, or neither? Because from here it’s starting to seem like the only reason Eron is designated as white and Sarkeesian is not is to polish the reputation of the former while disparaging the latter.

Edit: added some more quotes from Gamergaters discussing the whiteness, or lack thereof, of Armenians as a people.

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