Sometimes, when I’m developing screenplays, I subconsciously give them a white male lead — that’s my inner Lin, and it shows how deep The Default has invaded my mind. Even brown people have made their interior internal voice white in so many ways. Our yearning for legitimacy is so deep, we erase ourselves from the inside.
Lin’s reasoning demonstrates the empathetic liberal’s way of reinforcing The Default, but he is only continuing the cycle that the interviewer began. We expect artists of color to address race or we’ll ask why they don’t. White artists are never asked why they aren’t addressing their experience of race in their work. We don’t have the same expectations of white artists because, of course, they are raceless. We assume that if race is not specified and a specific identity is not discussed, then the identity is white.
In some places, the white default is blindingly obvious, like newspapers. Even in California, where white people are not a majority of the population, the L.A. Times and the San Francisco Chronicle both continue to specify race almost exclusively when an individual is non-white. No race specified? Must be a regular person! A white person.
This is the same thinking that white conservatives use when they feel like a “minority”group is just looking out for its own interests. Or when analysts say things like, “Without blacks and Hispanics, the majority of Americans voted for Romney.” The assumption is that white voters, white politicians, white pundits are more real and are the only ones who can present objective solutions and analyses, since they are not burdened by self-interest. Another example: My black father, who has a Ph.D. in European history, was frequently asked if he was able to teach European history “objectively.”