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Archive for May, 2008

“Racial Shift in a Progressive City Spurs Talks”

By: William Yardley
The New York Times (temporary ban has been lifted due to fantastic photo)
May 29th, 2008

Summary

Portland struggles to figure out how to create diversity without affecting property values. It is not easy. Fortunately, things are being solved through awareness.

Best Passage

“I’ve been really upset by what I perceive to be Portland’s blind spot in its progressivism,” said Khaela Maricich, a local artist and musician. “They think they live in the best city in the country, but it’s all about saving the environment and things like that. It’s not really about social issues. It’s upper-middle-class progressivism, really.”

Ms. Maricich, 33, who is white, spoke after attending this month’s meeting of Portland’s Restorative Listening Project.

Things Mentioned

Thanks to Yolonda for being the first of many to send this in.

Photo by Brian Lee

www.BrianLeePhoto.com
www.BrianLeeWeddings.com

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To be offended is usually a rather unpleasant experience, one that can expose a person to intolerance, cultural misunderstandings, and even evoke the scars of the past.  This is such an unpleasant experience that many people develop a thick skin and try to only be offended in the most egregious and awful situations.  In many circumstances, they can allow smaller offenses to slip by as fighting them is a waste of time and energy.  But white people, blessed with both time and energy, are not these kind of people.  In fact there are few things white people love more than being offended.

Naturally, white people do not get offended by statements directed at white people.  In fact, they don’t even have a problem making offensive statements about other white people (ask a white person about “flyover states”).  As a rule, white people strongly prefer to get offended on behalf of other people.

It is also valuable to know that white people spend a significant portion of their time preparing for the moment when they will be offended.  They read magazines, books, and watch documentaries all in hopes that one day they will encounter a person who will say something offensive.  When this happens, they can leap into action with quotes, statistics, and historical examples.  Once they have finished lecturing another white person about how it’s wrong to use the term “black” instead of “African-American,” they can sit back and relax in the knowledge that they have made a difference.

White people also get excited at the opportunity to be offended at things that are sexist and/or homophobic.  Both cases offering ample opportunities for lectures, complaints, graduate classes, lengthy discussions and workshops.  All of which do an excellent job of raising awareness among white people who hope to change their status from “not racist” to “super not racist.”

Another thing worth noting is that the threshold for being offended is a very important tool for judging and ranking white people. Missing an opportunity to be outraged is like missing a reference to Derrida-it’s social death.

If you ever need to make a white person feel indebted to you, wait for them to mention a book, film, or television show that features a character who is the same race as you,  then say “the representation of <insert race> was offensive and if you can’t see that, well, you need to do some soul searching.”  After they return from their hastily booked trip to land of your ancestors, they will be desperate to make it up to you.  At this point, it is acceptable to ask them to help you paint your house.

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It is a fact that white people will never turn down an opportunity to enlighten other people on the correct way to think. While this is very easy to do through email or face to face conversation, it is exceptionally difficult to do while driving a car. Fortunately for white people there is a solution that is both popular and ineffective: bumper stickers.

Before talking about the types of bumper stickers that white people like, it’s very important to get an understanding about layout and placement. When a white person drives an older car (6+ years old) that has a resale value under $2000, they will coat the entire backside of the car in bumper stickers. Because of the abundance of space they are free to include stickers from all areas of white support: music, politics, the environment, insults to right wing politicians, and various movements that tell people to keep a city “weird.”

But when white people have a nice new car such as a Prius or an Audi station wagon, the fear of losing resale value prevents them from applying more than one sticker. Therefore that one sticker must properly capture the essence of the car and the political views of the driver.

The safest and most accepted choice for a sticker is always one that supports a Democratic Presidential candidate (Ralph Nader is an acceptable substitute). As of February 2008, white law requires an Obama 08 bumper sticker to be placed on the back of every Prius. Though these stickers reach peak effectiveness during an election year, it is acceptable to leave this sticker on the car until the next election regardless of whether or not the candidate actually won. If it’s a disputed election like in 2000, the sticker can be left on for the life of the car.

If a white person does not feel like supporting a candidate, they will likely select a bumper sticker that tells other people what to do. Some popular ones include telling people to Coexist and to stop eating meat.

Though there is no conclusive evidence about the effectiveness of these stickers, white people show no signs of abandoning the campaign. In fact, there is a popular tale in white mythology that tells of an unenlightened man driving on the freeway who saw a bumper sticker on the back of a Subaru station wagon that said “Go Veg.” The sticker was so moving that he threw the hamburger he was eating right out the window and became a vegetarian on the spot. Two days later, he affixed the same bumper sticker to their car and the process began anew until enough people had changed their views to form what we now know as the city of Portland, Oregon.

The only other acceptable sticker option for white people is the white oval country tag sticker used commonly in Europe to help identify cars that cross international borders. Though they actually serve a function in Europe, white people use the stickers to show people where they like to take vacations. If you know a white person with one of these stickers, it’s always a good idea to ask them about where they got the sticker. Your question will justify the presence of the sticker and make the white person feel great.

If you have decided that you want to improve your status with white people by applying a bumper sticker to your car do not make the assumption that you can just use anything! Stickers that support right wing politics, guns, patriotism, war, or hunting are all unacceptable. It is also unacceptable to use a sticker with a clever slogan that does not support a left wing political cause. Any of these stickers will likely end any chance you had of befriending a white person.

Note: attaching a yellow magnetic ribbon to the back of your car will result in being shunned from some of the stricter white communities and should avoided at all costs.

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#99 Grammar

White people love rules. It explains why so they get upset when people cut in line, why they tip so religiously and why they become lawyers. But without a doubt, the rule system that white people love the most is grammar. It is in their blood not only to use perfect grammar but also to spend significant portions of time pointing out the errors of others.

When asking someone about their biggest annoyances in life, you might expect responses like “hunger,” “being poor,” or “getting shot.” If you ask a white person, the most common response will likely be “people who use ‘their’ when they mean ‘there.’ Maybe comma splices, I’m not sure but it’s definitely one of the two.”

If you wish to gain the respect of a white person, it’s probably a good idea that you find an obscure and debated grammar rule such as the “Oxford Comma” and take a firm stance on what you believe is correct. This is seen as more productive and forward thinking than simply stating your anger at the improper use of “it’s.

Another important thing to know is that when white people read magazines and books they are always looking for grammar and spelling mistakes. In fact, one of the greatest joys a white person can experience is to catch a grammar mistake in a major publication. Finding one allows a white person to believe that they are better than the writer and the publication since they would have caught the mistake. The more respected the publication, the greater the thrill. If a white person were to catch a mistake in The New Yorker, it would be a sufficient reason for a large party.

Though they reserve the harshest judgment for professional, do not assume that white people will cast a blind eye to your grammar mistakes in email and official documents. They will judge you and make a general assessment about your intelligence after the first infraction. Fortunately, this situation can be improved if you ask a white person to proof read your work before you send it out. “Hey Jill, I’m sorry to do this, but I have a business degree and I’m a terrible writer. Can you look this over for me?” This deft maneuver will allow the white person to feel as though their liberal arts degree has a purpose and allow you to do something more interesting.

Don’t worry, it is impossible for a white person to turn down the opportunity to proofread.

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The Ivy League is expensive, exclusive, located in the North East, and features beautiful old buildings. All of these things are beloved by white people so logically it would seem that they all love the Ivy League. But this is not true!

White people have a tortured relationship with the Ivy Leagues, and if you broach the subject in the wrong way you can offend and even anger a white person.

But before getting into the more nuanced aspects of the subject, it’s important to know that all white people believe they have the intelligence and work ethic required to attend an Ivy League school. The only reason they did not actually go to one is that they chose not to participate in the “dog and pony show” required to gain acceptance. White people also like to believe that they were not born into a privileged (enough) family to get legacy admission. This should always be at the back of your mind as you talk to a white person about the Ivy League.

Once you have determined that a white person did not attend an Ivy League School, you should try to give them the opportunity to explain why their school was actually a superior educational experience. Some easy ways to do this are to mention grade inflation, professors who value research over teaching, or high tuition costs. Any one of these will set a white person off on a multi-minute rant.

When they have finally run out of arguments about why they chose the right school, you should say “I knew a whole bunch of people who went to Harvard and none of them work as hard or are as smart as you.” This is a very effective technique for gaining acceptance since white people need constant reassurance that they are smart and that they made the right choice with their life.

If you actually went to an Ivy League school, you will been seen as a threat so prepare for a lot of questions from white people. They will constantly ask questions about how much work you had, the type of students at the school, the professors, your dorm room, your reading lists, and they will try so hard to figure out your SAT score. They desperately need a source of comparison so that they need to figure out if you are actually smarter than them. In fact, the only way to stop this line of questioning is to imply that you only got in because of your minority status. Once you say that, white people will stop feeling threatened since they can now believe they too would have been accepted to an Ivy League school if they were a minority. It also gives them a personal story about the effectiveness of Affirmative Action.

White people also like to call their school “The Harvard of the <insert region or conference>”. Do not challenge this, it will ruin their confidence.

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Stuff White People Like: A Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions

By: Christian Lander

Available July 1st, 2008 from:

Amazon (Pre-Order)

Barnes and Noble (Pre-Order)

Book Sense

Borders

Powell’s

In Canada:

Indigo/Chapters (Pre-Order)

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