Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Laughing On The Inside

A few months ago, I came across a website called Stuff White People Like. I started reading the list (coffee was #1, go figure), reading the explanations, and cracking up. Then I had a thought . . . should I be laughing? Should I be offended?

I perused the site some more and wondered to myself, would I laugh if the name of the site was "Stuff Black People Like"? Probably, but I would feel bad about it. Just wrong.

So over the next few months, I struggled internally with whether it was a site I would visit again. I consider myself to be sensitive to the stereotyping of all races, sexual preferences, sizes, ages, do I need to list everything? I hate stereotypes. But I also acknowledge that stereotypes exist because of our need to classify people. Ultimately, I decided that I just needed to get over myself.

Last night, as I was returning from Nashville, I listened to the Gayle King Show on Oprah and Friends XM station. Gayle was interviewing Christian Lander, the author of . . . yep, you got it . . . the new book based on the site Stuff White People Like. Gayle shared that she was laughing but that inside, she was cringing a little because she felt it stereotypes people.

She said that she asked herself if she would laugh if the book was about black people. Gayle decided that she would laugh if the book about black people were written by a black person but not if it was written by a white person. Lander, who happens to be white, agreed that his site would not be funny if he was not white. He said it would not work for him to do this about black people. However, he shared that there are lots of spin-off sites, including a site called "Stuff Educated Black People Like" and "Stuff Queer People Like". Look them up on Google, they are also pretty funny once you get past the cringing.

They went on to have a very interesting discussion (you can read a summary here) about race, stereotypes, humor, satire, acknowledging our differences, and the need to sometimes make people uncomfortable to start a dialog towards understanding. It was so interesting and enlightening.

So now, I am laughing, still cringing a bit, but acknowledging that sometimes we cringe because we recognize some truth. But I'm still laughing.


Carla said...

Hi, I drop by on your blog. It's simple and nice. I like it

Ruth D~ said...

Very interesting. I understand your feelings. I think we are victims of the media and "society" in general who make us feel the way we do. Hey, If your black or white or whatever, you *are* differentiated by many things. And what's wrong with this? When we can no longer "celebrate the difference" with humor . . . it's too late for us.

Ruth D~ said...

BTW, I saw a book by this title in the bookstore dxc the other day, and thought of you. I flipped through it and it was kind of funny, really