Last night I was gazing at the lovely backlit trees as I sat in a balmy hillside bar in Kampala when a Ugandan friend interrupted my thoughts.
“You’re looking at those trees, aren’t you,” he intoned flatly. “You should read this great blog – ‘Stuff white people like’ – it’s very funny.”
By “it’s very funny”, I assumed he meant, “it’s uncannily accurate and all about people like you.” He does like to say “Huh, you white people,” to me on a regular basis, for almost anything I do (I have generously attributed this to his ongoing messy separation from his white spouse).
Nevertheless I was intrigued. I went home and, after checking my Facebook (#106 on the list, by the way), scrolled through the list as E snored beside me. There is a full list of 134 items, and the website has 80,000,000 – yes, 80 million!- hits. My God, are we this predictable? And do this many people find our predictability entertaining?
I scrolled through the list and found, that, to my relief, it was mainly about things white American people like, so there were a fair few that may not apply to Britain, or at least not to me. I don’t pretend to like classical music anymore (now that I am in my 30s – I did for the longest time, though). To the dismay/relief of my American friends (depending on where they went to school) – don’t easily recognise the names of Ivy League schools. I think I can be excused on the having black friends and being the only white person around points, given that I live in a black country and all my expat friends have left and I can’t be bothered to make any more as they’ll all leave again – so I think the motivation there is rather different to the one cited in the posts – i.e. primarily laziness. Still, there were enough in there that resonated and I felt rather embarrassed. Notably #15 – yoga. “Participation in this activity requires large amounts of money and time, both of which white people have a lot of…It gives white people the chance to showcase their $80 pants.” I looked down guiltily at my new hot pink yoga pants, and read on. Also making you feel bad about not going outside: I do that to E a lot, even though I spend a fair amount of my time sitting on my @ss eating chocolate and watching Hercule Poirot episodes (when he can’t see me). And I do have 3 moleskines, full of shopping lists, which make me feel intellectual just by holding them.
This morning E and I had a bit of a discussion on this – I wanted to verify the list’s accuracy from his perspective. He’s not keen on racial stereotyping, but there were a few bits of the list that he couldn’t resist commenting on:
#116 – Black music that Black People Don’t Listen to Anymore. He glanced warily at my iPod. Enough said.
#128 – camping, “that’s definitely a white thing”. (He has shown no interest in the gorgeous campsite at Sipi falls that I keep telling him about, and does not seem to think that it would be a romantic trip.)
# 126 – Vespas – “for sure that’s a white thing. You ever seen anyone here on a Vespa?” (this was supported by an uncannily good – although not particularly sexy – impression of a man on a Vespa).
# 69 – Mos Def – this was met with a loud guffaw and no explanation. I don’t know who Mos Def is but am assuming that a lot of people, white and black, do, and that this is funny to them.
However, there were large areas we agreed that some of this stuff everyone liked (i.e. E also liked them so wasn’t too keen for it to be on the same list as some of the other items): The Wire, Facebook, Mad Men (although I suspect that he only pretends to like Mad Men to humour me).
Driving home this afternoon, I saw my first ever Vespa in Uganda. I dashed after him to see who was driving it.
A white Italian guy.