If you are white, addicted to expensive lattes (#1), love hardwood floors (#142), read David Sedaris (#25) and like to do your bit to help the environment (multiple entries) then you need to read Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander – so you can laugh at yourself.
It's a blog that became a book. The Stuff White People Like blog went live in January with a daily posting analyzing a popular trait beloved of white people such as coffee, international travel, yoga, snowboarding, non-profit organizations, organic food and so on.
Here are excerpts from two typical entries:
#5 Farmer's Markets White people are drawn to farmer's markets like moths to a flame. In fact, white people have such strong instincts that if you release a white person into a random Saturday morning they will return to you with a reusable bag full of fruits and vegetables…..
#37 Renovations All white people are born with a singular mission in life in order to pass from regular whitehood into ultra-whitehood. Just as Muslims have to visit Mecca, all white people must eventually renovate a house before they can be complete….
By February, the blog was one of the most talked about sites in the blogosphere and a book deal quickly followed. Published in print in July, Stuff White People Like concerns a particular type of white person (and we're not talking White Trash here) and the running gag throughout is the competitiveness of white people and the things they do to look good and be better than the next white person. Hipster, liberal, 30-something types are what this book is all about. Sadly, not everyone understands this brand of humor and that Lander is dissecting his own lifestyle.
"I get criticism from people who just don't get it," said the Los Angeles-based writer. "People say the book is racist and that I'm racist. They get quite upset. This is self-depreciating humor and not to be confused with racism. Lots of people appear to be confused about race. The blog is observational humor and most white people get it – someone reported me to a hate crimes commission but, of course, the book is not hateful at all. I think in the 1980s and 1990s, there were campaigns for equality so everyone could be equal, exactly the same, and no-one is exactly the same."
Lander - who is, of course, white - already describes 2008 as the most amazing year of his life. Random House gave him 30 days to complete enough material to fill a book so he quit his day-job in corporate communications with an interactive agency in California. A book tour followed and people have been debating the merits of Lander's humor ever since. The speed at which everything happened has been startling for the author.
"It all began on January 18 this year when a friend and I were discussing The Wire TV show and he said he wouldn't trust any white person who didn't watch The Wire," said Lander. "We started joking around and talking more about how white people go into therapy and get divorced and so on, and I said let's start a blog.
"It was all a joke. I didn't expect the blog to be seen by anyone except a few friends. When the blog got 1,000 hits in a day I registered the name and then it jumped to 30,000 hits in a day, and then 300,000 and then – at the absolute peak – it got 800,000 hits per day."
Apple products, natural childbirth, brunch, bicycles, liking San Francisco, expensive strollers, listening to public radio, and wearing New Balance sneakers – huge swathes of the liberal white person lifestyle comes under the spotlight.
Lander, who credits his move from Toronto to California as inspiring his fascination with analyzing white person culture, admitted he wanted to help white people laugh at themselves and not veer into nastiness. "I spent four years in graduate school and I learnt it easy to offend someone in graduate school. I didn't want to be seen as a goon or a ghoul."
If you own a Toyota Prius, be prepared to be grilled over and over again. "The Prius might be the most perfect white product ever. It's expensive, gives the idea that you are helping the environment and requires no commitment or life changes other than having slightly less money," reads #60.
Lander's long-term ambition is to become a comedy writer. It could be argued he's already made it.