Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Little Racial Profiling Never Hurt Anyone.....right?

Avid web surfing this week has enlightened me to a number of things. One of them is the ever delicate art of racial profiling and how to properly and comically uphold racial stereotypes! Yay. Gosh, what would we do without the internet. Of course a number of us do a good job to the perpetuate them in our lives and friend circles. Some of us even live them out in our daily lives. But one public (web) display has done quite a good job to both capture and illustrate these stereotypes in all their race-defining glory. Yes, folks, I'm talking about the ever popular lists "Stuff White People Like," Stuff Black People Like, "Stuff Educated Black People Like (because I guess that there's a difference in both people and interests), Stuff Ethnic People Like, etc. I've been reading through different forms of these lists since Dec and read through most recently yesterday. The lists are quite funny, some items, quite scathing. The following things that white people like are strikingly pertinent to my life and made me realize that I am a lot more "white" that I thought!

Taking a Year Off (click for full explanation)

Scarves!! ( I Swear that I only wear them as a color coordinated accessory)- Click for full explanation

Arts Degrees (Proof that your local arts degree holder is one of the most important, well-read and overly analytical people in your community:-)

Or that my sister lives for Trader Joe's (guilt by association?)

Most black people who grew up in communities dominated by white people could probably identify with many of the things on the list. Black folks who didn't, well, wouldn't. We really should have our own list. Maybe I'll start it: Stuff Black People Who Grew Up the Burbs. Though I'm sure, if I searched hard enough, I'd find it. Harsh folks would call us, black folks inhabiting white areas, Oreos (this word has haunted and annoyed me since middle school). The creators of this list would call us self and culturally aware individuals who will someday bridge the gap between races. I suppose that some white people, reading a list about Black folks could have these same earth shattering revelations in addition to a good laugh. Though I'll say that I've met many white people who, in fact, disprove their whiteness according to this list.
Well, in attempts to remain fair and balanced...not the Fox News kind...I couldn't pass up the opportunity to delve into the many things into things that "Black people Like" (allegedly)

Revolution (I think my fist stays raised in my sleep)

Finding Out that a Criminal is NOT BLACK (The collective sigh is almost palpable)

Sure. It's all in good fun. I'm sure that the creators of such websites are culturally aware individuals who enjoy a diverse circle of friends and exist somewhere in "cultural ambiguity" land. But do these websites and lists present any danger to social and cultural progressivism (if there is such a thing)? I mean really? Do they simply provide us with a good laugh when assessing cultural difference or do they further serve to ostracize folks who do not fit these stereotypes? Is this the type of "conversation" that we should be having about race relations, or is it the reason that we can't get pass the problems that we have now. For you, none of this maybe an issue, your cultural sensitivity levels may be at an all time high. But for those of us who get our culture from the internet and TV, we must be careful what we feed ourselves.

The Stuff that We Should Really Be Worried About

But really, I think that it says alot about us that we are able to poke a little fun at culture and stereotypes. There some sort of cultural reconciliation that underlies all of this humor. But enough with this cultural sensitivity bit. You'll ruin my Friday night topics of conversation with my equally culturally aware friends. In fact, I think I'll pepper this enlightened moment with a foray into racial profiling: I think that I'll submit an entry: "Stuff White People Like: Mac Books." :-)

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