Have you seen the site Stuff White People Like
? I'm not a fan of the assignment of values or qualities to people based on race, but I was surprised how often this site pegs me (as a white person). For example, I really am afraid that I am somehow racist, and feel guilty for all the rotten things that white people have done. I do love things that are not instantly accessible, like beer and coffee, although I'm not sure that I love them because they must be acquired. I do want to believe that I am creative and unique. My chagrined reaction to the site's appraisal of white people, though, is probably the whitest thing.
Interestingly, the site doesn't seem to actually be talking about white people, but some sort of core of the whitest people. For example, the site authors tell us that white people like The Daily Show, David Sedaris, Veganism/Vegetarianism, Apple Products, Diversity (exclusively of restaurants and in service of feeling cultured), and Awareness. Also, while the authors are relatively light on criticism of interest truly mainstream television like Lost, American Idol, and Grey's Anatomy, they are open in their criticism of those who eschew the mainstream and prefer less well-known shows like Arrested Development. Again, this suggests a relatively narrow view of what white people are like.
In other words, they're describing white people not in terms of conservatism, open racism, or aristocratic attitudes, but rather in terms of their attempts to feel good about themselves while still maintaining a high power/wealth ratio and seeking situations where they can't lose, in what could be called soft counterculture
. This leads me to believe that this site is based especially on American college students, who in many cases are financially advantaged without having settled into the self-satisfied conservatism of their parents, whom they resent (as detailed on the site).
The prototypical (or, I guess, stereotypical) white person described on the site endlessly postures in order to make themselves feel good and other people feel bad: "The number one reason why white people like not having a TV is so that they can tell you that they don’t have a TV." They like to do just enough work to have the appearance of superiority, for example learning a few phrases in a foreign language to use while ordering in a restaurant and appear worldly. This example ties in to their general interest in the foreign and exotic, a segment of the ironically monolithic nature of alternative culture, which is itself a direct result of the combination of the cultural elements of loving uniqueness and loving trends.
And it's in this that I am unlike their prototype of the white person. I sympathize with clander's criticism that white people "need to express [their] uniqueness by purchasing everything that a publicly traded company produces", and the characterization of Americans as being concerned with bringing attention to an issue with little or no emphasis on actually solving problems. It should go without saying that I don't believe that any of the qualities on the site are necessarily or exclusively white, but nevertheless I think that they've nailed a lot of cultural foibles, particularly of hipsterism.
I would be curious to know how closely Stuff White People Like matches worldwide ideas of how white people are. I suspect that it is fairly close, although obviously the author is more familiar with white (especially U.S.), faux-liberal culture than an outsider would be. I'm also curious to know how this canon of stereotypical behavior will develop in the future. For example, there is an entry on the site dedicated to irony (specifically ironic enjoyment of deprecated rural culture or retro references). If post-irony (the return to enjoying things that one enjoys for their own sake, but differentiated from pre-irony in the high awareness of irony) becomes mainstream, will this too become a marker of whiteness?