Much Ado About “Stuff White People Like”

By Guest Columnist Feb 29, 2008

by Alex Jung When a friend showed me the blog "Stuff White People Like" the first thing I thought to myself was — Why didn’t I think of that? Because, as someone who thinks of himself as relatively "conscious," the blog was a cyber-manifestation of many of the jabs we make throw at self-congratulatory white liberals. For us — to put it somewhat dramatically — it’s about developing a critique to the colorblind Lexus liberal rather than the raving skinhead. White liberals are just as silly, and sway to the currents of fads and ideologies, as everyone else. Apparently everyone else loves (or hates!) the website and it has emerged as a star in the blogosphere and even gotten some mainstream press attention (a column in the LA Times by Gregory Rodriguez oddly misses the point and argues that the blog is an example of how whites are becoming an increasing "minority."). With more attention has also come more information, and I must admit, as a member of Generation ADHD, I’m already over it. The blogger of Stuff White People Like talks with another blogger at The Assimilated Negro, and I think it may have been better had he kept his identity a mystery:

The Assimilated Negro (TAN): do you consider yourself aligned with the white people you profile? You’re white, but are you whom you describe/study? Stuff White People Like (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: Do you think someone could do Stuff Black People Like, or Stuff Native Americans Would Like? SWPL: Absolutely. So long as it’s done in the right tone. My blog is not done to demean white people, it’s meant to point out common experiences. I write about the things that I like, I’m implicated in all of this. So if someone were to start (and they have) a blog called Stuff Black People Like, so long as it’s done to expose shared experiences, it should be fine. Of course, if it’s done with malice or hate, it would be terrible.

His answer to the question of whether there should be a "Stuff Black people Like" illustrates how shallow his understanding of race actually is. Even if, in the best of circumstances, a person of color were to write the blog, it would still essentialize black identity and consequently wouldn’t challenge white supremacy. What was initially useful about SWPL was that it reversed the tactic white people have used on people of color. Its cleverness is getting stale because it hasn’t exhibited ways to think differently; one can predict the rest of the posts – white people also like to dress their pets, drink free trade coffee, and watch Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and think about how "real" it is. He recognizes the dumb things white people do, such as believing they know what’s best for poor people, but just as he will still spend 10 bucks on a sandwich, white people will still think buying a GAP t-shirt will end poverty in Africa. It’s a critique followed by a shrug.