Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stuff White People Don't Like

#97: Articles written by women of color who don't find their humor all that funny.

Shout out to Samhita from Feministing, who recently published a great in-depth piece on why the popular blog, Stuff White People Like, isn't so groundbreaking afterall:

It's worth wondering if such a blog could have thrived were its author a person of color. Would white people still read it and find the humor affectionate? Or would they suddenly detect a more harshly critical undertone? There are many people of color who write regularly (and yes, sometimes even with a sense of humor) about racism and whiteness, but they're not getting six-figure book deals. In effect, Lander is rewarded for being white, even though he is making fun of white people. To his credit, he is self-aware enough to mock this irony. He broke the news that he had a forthcoming book by publishing an entry on Stuff White People Like titled, "Book Deals" (No. 92). But that doesn't change the fact that, were he a person of color, No. 92 might instead have been "Calling Me A Racist."

Check out the entire article, originally published at American Prospect, and reprinted on Wiretap.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Funny, until reading this article, I always figured that Stuff White People Like was written by a person of color. I've always detected the same "harshly critical" tone Mukhopadhyay suggests would set the blog apart were it written by someone not Caucasian. Perhaps I didn't give white people enough credit to be as humorously critical about white culture/privilege since I've never been able to analyze it to the blog's extent.

For years, I was that white person to which the article refers that downplayed any personal sense of culture or white identity. As I've identified with so many of the "stereotypes" the blog lists, I've come to acknowledge that I do possess clear cultural tendencies. I hesitate to give it too much credit, but SWPL has definitely influenced my perspectives.

Though I see Mukhopadhyay's point about the white authorship and success, I don't share her bleak speculation. I wouldn't think to bemoan "another" white person earning a book deal when he did so after successfully provoking the masses to consider their identities and privilege. It's far more progressive than detrimental. Granted, there's no call to action, but it's laying groundwork in providing awareness.

I would agree that some white audiences wouldn't be receptive to a non-Caucasian defining their culture, but I think the same would occur with a Caucasian individual attempting to pinpoint nuances in another race's cultural leanings.