by Carmen Van Kerckhove
A ton of you have been writing to me about a new blog called Stuff White People Like. It’s a hilarious, satirical Wikipedia-esque guide to exactly what the title says, filled with dead-on observations that make you laugh in surprise and recognition. And when I say recognition, I mean not only that I’ve noticed a lot of the behavior mentioned in white people I know, but also that I recognize myself (hey, I am half white) in a lot of the posts.
One of my favorite posts is “Top Ten Hip Hop Songs White People Love,” especially this part:
I was preparing to write a post about how white people love “old school” hip hop, and take it very seriously. Or perhaps how they love “conscious” hip hop that so vitally addresses the problems of a community that they don’t belong to. Remember, they aren’t dancing or jogging to this music for fun – it’s for a social cause.
I’ve always wondered why it is that most audience members at “conscious” rap concerts are white – a question tackled by Bakari Kitwana a couple years ago in a piece he did for the Village Voice titled “The Cotton Club“. The title is “a reference to the 1920s and ’30s Harlem jazz spot where Black musicians played to whites-only audiences.”
Isn’t there something condescending about non-black people telling black people what kind of hip hop they should listen to when hip hop is arguably a black art form to begin with?
Anyway, I mention all this because from the first time I saw the site, I’ve been wondering who the hell started it all. And now we know, thanks to The Assimilated Negro, who just landed a two-part interview (part 1, part 2) with the man behind the blog. Here are some interesting excerpts:
SWPL: ok. I am white. here is another non surprise. there are pictures of me on the site. I’m the dude recycling. and the guy at dim sum. and the guy holding the iphone. and the bicycle picture is my bicycle.
TAN: ha…. SCOOP!
SWPL: I work here in Los Angeles as a Copywriter/Corporate Communications person.
TAN: do you consider yourself aligned with the white people you profile? You’re white, but are you whom you describe/study?
SWPL: oh yes. this site pokes fun at ME. that’s why I use pictures of myself. those aren’t taken out of irony. this is the shit that I do. I need to call myself out for all of the stupid shit that I take for granted. why do I need $300 bike rims? why is a $10 sandwich considered normal?
TAN: When did you become self-conscious about your “whiteness”? When do you think the white liberal guilt kicks in? Is there an age? a rite of passage? do you need to see some black comedians talk about it? all of the above?
SWPL: Well remember a lot of the white people I’m lampooning (including myself) always can laugh at the comic view stuff because we’re like “yeah, those OTHER white people, they are ridiculous.” I grew up in Chinatown, in Toronto East Chinatown. a neighborhood bordered by a housing project, greektown, and little india. the neighborhood was always safe, but it’s gentrified like crazy in the past ten years. but I would say growing up there made me aware of whiteness right away. I knew most chinese slurs for white people by age 10. but at the same time, I wasn’t isolated. Toronto produces some pretty diverse crews of friends.
TAN: Do you see any difference in response between whites and minorities/ethnics?
SWPL: not really sure. They are all email responses, so people could be lying. For the most part the response is positive from everyone. Most of the white people who write in are the ones being satirized, and they get the joke. The minorities who write in usually love the blog, they are also usually the first to go after white people who say that the blog is racist. The best response I’ve seen so far is someone who said, “there’s a big difference, you haven’t been denied a job because you like Yoga and Expensive Sandwiches.” I think that put things into perspective pretty quickly.