How White Are You? I’m 41%

After discussing the recent Burger King commercial, starring the Queen of Hip Hop/Soul, Mary J. Blige, my white male colleague, who sits next to me in the teacher lounge/workspace, suggests that I read Stuff White People Like. “That’s a real book?” I ask, unsure if I heard him correctly.

It is.

Today, my friend brought the book into work, and we spent an hour discussing the book, whose complete title is The Definitive Guide to Stuff White People Like: The Unique Taste of Millions. The book humorously questionably pokes fun at some truths, stereotypes, and assumptions about white people and white dominant culture aka mainstream culture. Interestingly, there is a anti-mainstream, rebellious tone to many of the 150 things that white people like. Though much of what is discussed can be understood as the White right way to live in the United States.

“Do you have a pen?” my white colleague asks in the middle of our interesting conversation about the section entitled, Asian Girls, which explains why White men love to experience “Yellow fever.” I reach into my bag and fumble through the varied papers until my hand feels the blue ball point pen. “What are you doing?” I inquire as I hand him the pen. “You should take the test,” he smiles, “Let’s see how white you are?” flipping towards the end of the book.

The result: 41% white. There was at least five to seven things that I said “no” to but would like to do someday: attend a film/music festival and visit Portland, Oregon are the two things that stand out. Thus, in the next couple of years, my whiteness could increase.

Below are some of my thoughts while taking the How White Are You? survey:

  • Does disagreeing with the statements confirm that I am person of color? In other words, does my identity exist as opposition to the white? Damn, you, white supremacy.
  • Does agreeing with the statement mean that I am not a person of color? Damn, you, white supremacy, again.
  • Are these statements only applicable to white people? Do white people own, for example, the enjoyment of wine?
  • Which kind of White people does this book describe? Many of the items seem to be connected to class, affluence, and even education. For example, if you shared this book with a poor white person, I am sure that they would not score well. Does that mean they are less White? Damn, you, white supremacy, yet again.
  • Similarly, much of the statements are seemingly geared toward: male, democratic, hipster/artsy, heterosexual, agnostic, big city, North East or North West white person.
  • Wow, I scored a 41% Is that too high? Is that too low? Damn, you, white supremacy, yet again again.
  • I wonder what some of my black, multiracial, white, Asian, Latin0/a friends would score. The questions are so tied to other identities though, like class, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, and ability that I wonder what “Whiteness” implies.
  • I am not sure of the author’s purpose with penning this book. I find some sarcastic tones, but the problem with sarcasm is that not everyone understands it and/or sees the material as an exaggeration to prove an underlying point. Is this social commentary? Ugh…There are some who will undoubtedly believe each word written *shakes mental fist furiously at the author for his ambiguously stated-not stated purpose*

Recently, the author came out with a new and improved list that included Facebook, TED conferences, and hating people who wear Ed Hardy amongst others. Below are the original 15o items that White people like (I’ve highlighted a few that I like and some that are interesting to consider):

Beards, Having Children In Their Late 30s, Red Hair, Noam Chomsky, Non-Motorized Boating, Boston Red Sox, Cleanses, Self-Deprecating Humor, Integrity, Pretending To Be Canadian While Traveling Aboard, The Criterion Collection, Natural Child Birth, High School English Teachers, Native Wisdom, Trying Too Hard, Portland, Oregon, Free Health Care, Che Guevera, The New Yorker, Non American News Sources, Subtitles, Premium Juice, The ACLU, Plaid, Platonic Friendships, Reusable Shopping Bags, Acoustic Covers, Dave Chappelle, Tibet, Nintendo Wii, Conspiracy, The Simpsons, Avoiding Confrontation, Djs, Carbon Offsets, Following Their Dreams, Not Having Cash, Adopting Foreign Children, Leed Certification, Expensive Strollers, Singer/Songwriters, Eating Outside, Books, Music Festivals, Glasses, Mcsweeny’s, Hardware Floors, Bakeries, Modern Art Museums, Cheese, Therapy, Public Transportation That Is Not The Bus, Dive Bars, Self-Importance, Rock Climbing, Scarves, New Balance Shoes, Rugby, Free Healthcare, Music Piracy, Book Deals, San Francisco, Dinner Parties, St. Patrick’s Day, Having Gay Friends, Outdoor Performance Clothes, Shorts, The Wire, T-Shirts, Bad Memories Of High School, Hating Corporations, Graduate School, The Idea Of Soccer, Modern Furniture, Multilingual Children, Musical Comedy, Bottles Of Water, Threatening To Move To Canada, Oscar Parties, Gentrification, Study Abroad, Being The Only White Person Around, Difficult Breakups, Mos Def, Michel Gondry, Standing Still At Concerts, Divorce, Co-Ed Sports, Recycling, Expensive Sandwiches, Knowing What’s Best For Poor People, Bicycles, Toyota Prius, Natural Medicine, Japan, Lawyers, Apologies, Kitchen Gadgets, Dogs, Sarah Silverman, Living By The Water, Irony, Vintage, Whole Foods And Grocery Co-Ops, Arts Degrees, The Sunday New York Times, Asian Fusion Food, Public Radio, Plays, Sushi, Indie Music, Apple Products, Netflix, Arrested Development, Renovations, Breakfast Places, The Daily Show/Colbert Report, Architecture, Marijuana, Vegan/Vegetarianism, Snowboarding, Wrigley Field, 80s Night, Not Having A Tv, Marathons, Manhattan (Now Brooklyn Too!), David Sedaris, Wine, Microbreweries, Having Two Last Names, Writers Workshops,  Being An Expert On Your Culture, Traveling, Awareness, Hating Their Parents, Gifted Children, Yoga, Having Black Friends, Tea, Non-Profit Organizations, Asian Girls, Wes Anderson Movies, Making You Feel Bad About Not Going Outside, Barack Obama, Diversity (of food, ethnic food), Organic Food, Farmer’s Markets, Assists, Film Festivals, Religions Their Parents Don’t Belong To, Coffee

How white are you?


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