You “Forgot” to Put “White People” on the List.

Feel the wave!If you convinced about two hundred people to make the background noise of an excited TV studio audience, then yelled this set of otherwise unassociated nouns at one of your closest friends…

Farmers Markets!

Standing Still at Concerts!

Japan!

Arrested Development!

Awareness!

Hating their parents!

Marathons

Mos Def!

…passing Plutonians could be forgiven for thinking they’d tuned into the latest edition of the new and recapitalized $1,000,000 Pyramid.

But they wouldn’t have. They’d just be hearing someone reading from Christian Lander’s hilarious new blog, StuffWhitePeopleLike (SWPL). (Thanks to writer Robert Morales for sending the link.)

Each of its (thus far) seventy-six entries, starting with “Coffee,” and going, apparently in no particular order, to “Bottles of Water,” captures some aspect of the dominant culture’s fascinating peccadilloes, lightly narrating the reasons why white people can’t get enough of living by the water (#51), snowboarding (#31), Michel Gondry (#68), or, sigh, difficult breakups (#70):

The suffering of heartbreak is universal, but it is important to be aware that white people thrive during these trying times. If you play your cards right, you can parlay these moments into future favors and valuable trust.

The majority of white person art is created after a difficult breakup; films, indie music, and poetry are all kicked into high production during the end of a relationship. This helps train white people to prepare for the pain that is coming.

Once breakup proceedings have been initiated, a white person is immediately thrust into the center of attention in their circle of friends. During this time, they are permitted to talk at great lengths about themselves, listen to The Smiths, and get free dinners from friends who think “they shouldn’t be alone right now.”

As my pal Juliette would say, bwaaahahahahahaha…. Because Lander’s satire cuts close enough to draw blood, many [presumably] white respondents have lamented the “reverse racism” of the site, cried that not all white people are this way, wondered on-site if it’s a joke, posted crude epithets, or—the last stop of the white supremacist boor—put up their own comparable lists for Black people, Mexicans, Asians, etc. That is, they merely cribbed notes from the last millennium of white-dominated world history.

Riding in from the other direction, The L.A. Times‘s Gregory Rodriguez, (“White Like Us”) does an excellent job of summarizing all the sociological reasons SWPL is important and relevant: Increasing U.S. white minority status, red vs blue statism, etc.

I couldn’t care less. For most Black people, the bugout isn’t going to be SWPL’s “timeliness.” The trip, as Michelle Obama would say, like the first time you read “The King Alfred Plan” or the Willie Lynch letter, is finding all of this in one place.

If you’re Black, you don’t even have to read the posts on SWPL to die laughing. Just read the titles. Hey: Just read one: The idea of the site is hilarious enough to us.

In fact, if Lander were to put the titles on playing cards and come up with some good rules, he’d have the next Bid Whist on his hands. Plus, if he needs more stuff white people like, here are some suggestions of my own:

• White people

• Traveling cheaply through the places where people of color live; e.g., Central America

• Touching Black women’s hair

• Samuel L. Jackson (but not Laurence Fishburne)

• Being in charge

• “Discovering” things

• Jumping off, out, and into things

• Closely observing non-white people being “authentic,” especially if those non-white people then warmly bring white people “into the experience” with them; see from marker 3:41 — 4:42 of this, for one example.

• The idea of “art”

• S&M

• Pretending to be less well off financially than they actually are

Once

• Getting drunk

• Later on, joking about how drunk they were

Black people can come up with this stuff all day long, and are inclined to. In fact, if there’s any single shortcoming of SWPL, perhaps it’s an intrinsic one: That as a member of the group holding all the ill-gotten gain, Lander will probably only go so far with this, but not far enough.

That is, in its most true, intricate, and laid-bare form—millions of entries, with each explanatory text ranging dozens, if not hundreds, of pages long—StuffWhitePeopleLike would form a planet-wide schematic for the entire racist system.

Put another way, and to paraphrase Dr. Phil, white people have got to be getting some kind of payoff from everything that they do, correct?

This is what Lander’s site concretizes, in some way. (This is also what makes it somewhat transgressive and, thus, popular.) If the reason white people do all of these many fascinating things is for a payoff, then, to the degree that they have anything to do with racism, racism has got to be connected to that in some way, right; to a payoff?

Suddenly, this is not so fun any more.

Barack Obama!

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6 comments ↓

#1 Jon Phillips on 03.04.08 at 1:22 pm

Touching black women’s hair? Oh, but you’re wrong, Harry! White people have seen too much TV content — sitcoms, reality shows, stand-up comedy acts, HBO movies — that teach us that touching black women’s hair is *objectionable*. The lesson here? White people like TV! (And some even like UPN.)

#2 Jon Phillips on 03.04.08 at 1:57 pm

And the caucasion DNA in me also can’t resist responding to Harry’s list (because I’m pretty sure white people also like pontificating Internet-style):

- white people — Well, sometimes. (I think “self-loathing” might be an appropriate addition to the master list).

- Traveling cheaply through the places where people of color live; e.g., Central America. — Nope. I hate that about white people.

- touching black women’s hair. — I dare not unless prior permission has been granted. (Or maybe if it’s natural, and 100 percent product and process-free.)

- Samuel L. Jackson — To adore Samuel L Jackson is rather 1995, no? But white people *do* like calling him “Sam” … this I will attest to.

- Being in charge. — *All* people should like that!

- “Discovering things” — Hahahaha. You nailed that one, Harry. Talk about egocentricism. (Though I think affluent folks of all ethnicities will claim they just “discovered” something … Whites are probably most famous for “discovering” sun-dried tomatoes.)

- Jumping off, out, and into things — Indeed. I have even heard this referenced in comedy acts.

- Closely observing non-white people being “authentic,” especially if those non-white people then warmly bring white people “into the experience” with them. — Ugh. This is the most embarrasing. For reference, see any episode of Survivor. (I repeat: White people like TV!)

- The idea of “art.” — AGREED. We should all be so lucky as to have enough leisure time to discuss the idea of art and not individual works of art.

- S&M — Yep, Harry nailed this one. Find me a non-white in a black rubber bodysuit, and, sir, you have discovered an anomaly. I will only add two observations. (1) Rarely do “affluent, beautiful” people get into S&M. It’s always the nerds who live in tract housing, and drive American cars, and who are so entirely NORMAL in their day-to-day lives that only S&M possibly makes sense. (2) What’s with all the ass-slapping and choking that I see and hear referenced in “black” movies, comedy acts and rap lyrics? It’s not S&M in the sense I believe we’re discussing here, but it’s still freaky, and objectionable, IMHO.

- Pretending to be less well off financially than they actually are. — Ding, ding, ding, ding. Dead on target. Except the irony is that many affluent people of color will do exactly the same thing when they feel their “cred” is in question.

Once. — I have no idea what this is. Seriously.

Getting drunk. — O. M. G. YES! Why are white people so damn smitten with getting drunk, and making such a GOAL of it!?! When I get drunk it is an incidental by-product of drinking alcohol. End of story.

- Later on, joking about how drunk they were. — Yeah, it’s really weird why white people are so obsessed with their own capacity to annoy.

#3 links for 2008-03-05 at Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture on 03.05.08 at 5:22 am

[...] You “Forgot” to Put “White People” on the List. — Media Assassin “if there’s any single shortcoming of SWPL, perhaps it’s an intrinsic one: That as a member of the group holding all the ill-gotten gain, Lander will probably only go so far with this, but not far enough.” (tags: white whiteprivilege blogs race) [...]

#4 adrian on 03.05.08 at 9:27 am

First, I’d like to agree, SWPL is classic. I spent hours reading through all the entries last week, laughing especially hard about the things I can’t deny participation in; being half white, my Brazilian father was constantly pushing me to assimilate into White America (I have a light skin tone and pass regularly). I’m a bit like a secret agent. SWPL’s data is definitely accurate.

I feel uncomfortable with your casual derision of S&M practices. I don’t know about circles of straight, white S&M practitioners, but my group of friends (most in the QPOC community) has a number of people of color interested in SM/BD.

#5 bdsista on 03.06.08 at 8:55 am

You really need to check out the site http://www.blackpeopleloveus.com its older than the blog and even more hilarious since it has pictures and quotes from “authentic” black people!

#6 jen* on 03.09.08 at 7:31 pm

for the folks who think white people don’t touch black people’s hair anymore, think again. It is still very frequent – at least in my own experience…my hair is my witness.

but you are so right – i can laugh just at the titles.

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