Monday, 8 February 2010

“Stuff White People Like”, by Christian Lander (Random House)

Lander-StuffWhitePeopleLike A “Definitive Guide” to what people like me are supposed to like…

Something a little lighter than normal fare for this site, I enjoyed reading this so much, so I thought I’d just write a quick review of it.

Filled with plenty of shrewd observations (of which all can be related to, if not me, then many people I know or went to school/university with), Stuff White People Like is an interesting read. Covering almost everything in many people’s lives, Lander has done an amusing job of dissecting the White psyche. Each bit of “stuff” builds on the other, with frequent cross-referencing. Filled with hilarious one-liners (though some might only be funny because they relate to the reader…), Stuff White People Like will tell you everything you need to know to either understand your white friends or yourself.

Here are some examples of what you will find in here, first on the subject of coffee (a subject oh-so dear to my heart):

“White people are given extra points for buying Fair Trade coffee, because the extra $2 means they are making a difference while their peers are drinking liquid oppression.”

A look at the Western obsession with yoga:

“yoga feels exotic and foreign. It has become sort of like a religion that prizes flexibility and expensive clothes. Also, deep down, white people feel that their participation makes up for years of colonial rule in India.”

Love affairs with Apple products (and the dichotomies involved):

“On the surface, you would ask yourself how white people could love a multibillion-dollar company with manufacturing plants in China and mass production, and that contributes to global pollution through the manufacture of consumer electronic[s]… The simple answer: Apple products tell the world you are creative and unique.”

Lander also mentions Naomi Klein’s No Logo, and how

“No Logo has been responsible for more white person ‘enlightenment’ than any book since the burning of the library at Alexandria. By reading this one magic book, white people are able to get a full grasp on the evils of multi-national corporations and then regurgitate it to friends and family.”

Never mind that No Logo is published by an imprint of Harper Collins, one of the largest publishing corporations on the planet.

On a personal note, as someone studying US domestic and foreign policy, the following line made me laugh a great deal (it’s from the section about Liberal Arts Degrees):

“It is important to note that a high percentage of white people also get degrees in Political Science, which is pretty much like Liberal Arts, and only seems to have the world ‘science’ in it to make white people feel better about themselves.”

It would be very easy to quote near-endlessly from Stuff White People Like (the whole segment about Conspiracy Theories, for example), but I’m sure the author would rather you bought the book, or at least headed over to the website, which has some Stuff not included in the book. (And there might be issues with copyright or fair usage laws, if I did quote as much as I’d like to…)

With tongue firmly lodged in cheek, Lander has written an amusing diversion.

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