Don’t let my Neon Carrot crayon complexion fool you. Both of my parents are Negroes.
Mind you, they’re also Neon Carrot Negroes: Pops is Louisiana Creole – a (literal) cotton-picking product of the rural Jim Crow south. Mama was raised around the project housing culture of Detroit in the 1950s and 60s. I was born in Detroit near the end of White flight and raised in the city’s eminently chocolatey remains.
White folks were something of a novelty for nearly the first decade of my life. There was the occasional White boy at my elementary school (who always caught mad hell), but I didn’t get real exposure until my white stepmother came along at the end of the 1980s; it was then that I started spending a lot of time in the northern suburbs and with her family in rural Michigan.
I was first exposed to White People Shit through her family, and I had my first jarring experience with it because of them.
In the 1990s, Detroit Public Schools didn’t yet require uniforms, sartorial decisions were often tied to social capital and Kanye West wasn’t around to make dressing like Eddie Murphy at the beginning of Trading Places “cool.” So when I started Day One as a freshman at Cass Technical High School 20 years ago by rocking a tie-dye T-shirt with Mickey Mouse on the front, I got roasted so hard that I jammed the shirt at the bottom of the trash bin that night.
I asked my stepmother to ask her well-intentioned family to stop gifting me clothes with surfers, skateboarders and other stuff Black people only saw on “Baywatch.” Of course, she didn’t get it, which is pretty much indicative of the nature of White People Shit (henceforth WPS).
Most WPS seems innocuous on its face, but part of the reason I and many black folks oppose complete cultural assimilation is the fear that our distinct Black American culture might become diluted in the majority (White) American culture. If we lose our identity, then we’re left with a bunch of Prius-driving, organic kale salad-eating, Ultimate Frisbee-playing, crooked-hairline-having, lost-ass niggas unfamiliar with – or apathetic about – The Struggle. Given that, recognizing WPS as WPS will always be a good thing to some degree.
I’ve compiled a by-no-means-exhaustive guide of WPS that might enlighten our White readers, as well as the Black dudes who sound like Bryant Gumbel and Black ladies who are still in college rocking the single bun in the back of their heads because they haven’t quite yet found their way. If anything, you may develop a better understanding of why Black folks give side-eye when you ask us to engage in certain shit.
Lacrosse – Thanks to The Mighty Ducks, even Kenan Thompson and Ashley’s boyfriend that Will hated on in “The Fresh Prince” are connected to the otherwise Caucasoid sport of hockey. But Lacrosse…? I didn’t even know the sport existed until 12th grade when I worked at Borders with a dude who played. If you can find me one primarily black high school in America with a Lacrosse team, I’ll PayPal you $5.
Bootleg “hamburgers” – When having dinner at the home of a lily-White blonde I dated years ago, her mother served us beef patties with no buns – and called them “hamburgers.” I spent more time than I should have debating with her entire family, who disagreed that a fucking patty without a fucking bun can’t be considered a fucking hamburger. Not a conversation I’d have had at the Jenkins residence.
Acceptable customer service – During a visit to Metro Detroit’s now-shuttered Northland Center – one of those “runnin’ and fuckin’” malls Chris Rock talked about – I walked into an off-brand store we’ll call “Hat Planet” looking for a fitted. It took nearly 10 seconds of me standing in front of the sista behind the counter before she looked up from her phone, her mouth quiet but her eyes rolling as if to say, “what nigga?!?” It was the opposite of peppy, helpful WPS customer service; that dame’ll likely work at a Secretary of State office when she gets older.
Pacifism – A core personality trait of the aforementioned White girlfriend. I grew up fighting, and my Detroit-forged sixth sense rejects the idea of living a life that won’t account for even the possibility of violence in self-defense. Even the most Earth-tone, dashiki-wearing, patchouli-oil-scented, “Ase, Baba so-and-so” sista from Detroit will bust you in the nasal bone with a brick if you come at her with some bullshit.
Stunt video tomfoolery – Look at any YouTube video involving a man on a tricycle named Scott in tightie-whities riding a tricycle down a rickety steel half-pipe and launching over a pit of fire-breathing alligators, only to chuckle in pain as he crushes his nuts on the other end. Scott is never, ever a brotha. The beginning of every video should include “no melanin was involved in the making of this film.”
Militant veganism – There’s a group called Direct Action Everywhere that protests the consumption of all animals and their products (milk, honey, etc.) to the degree that they’ll stand in the middle of a Chipotle restaurant and loudly try to convince the patrons that their steak burritos are a result of murder. Not only would we create a black market around center-cut pork chops if they were ever illegalized, but imagine what would happen if any of these unwashed hippies walked into Dot & Etta’s Shrimp Hut in the hood and “disrupted” everyone’s dinner with their bullshit. (Hint: violence is certainly involved).
Pie that doesn’t melt in the microwave – We all know fitewolks get down with flavorless, unseasoned food. But some take it to That Next Place by depriving pastries of sugar and fat – their primary ingredients – in the interest of cutting calories. I’ve witnessed the devil incarnate, and it’s a piece of apple pie that can spend two minutes in the microwave without bubbling and melting. It’s the type of shit that jumpstarts #BlackLivesMatter protests.
Overpaying for “gourmet” food you can find around the way – In foodie cities, there’s always a restaurant or two established by some “badass” white lead chef who backpacked somewhere “exotic,” loved the food and opened a restaurant of his own peddling an inferior version of that same food at an inflated price. Honey Butter Fried Chicken, a joint here in Chicago, has the unmitigated gall to charge $8 for two pieces of fried chicken that pigmentally deficient folks line up for every Sunday like they’re waiting for an iPhone. Meanwhile, there are a beeeeeellion Harold’s Chickens all over the south side that murder their food at half the price. Fuck you sincerely, HBFC.
White women diming you out at work – For reasons unclear to me, Caucasian wimins tend to be a little more willing than anyone else to snitch on their colleagues to the manager. Sarah has no qualms about quietly building a case against you for coming off break 17 seconds late or for “disappearing” that $0.77 package of BIC pens from storage, because Sarah doesn’t give a scant fuck about your need to keep food on the table. However, you damn near have to strap the CEO’s child up in a chitlin’ suit and hurl him into the lion pit at the zoo to motivate a Black person to report you. Because we stay looking out.
Bitching about noise – Not sure why, but we tend to have an increased tolerance for unwanted bass that makes us more forgiving of our neighbors sitting on their porch in chairs from an old Chevy Astro, blasting Dej Loaf outdoors at 11:30 p.m. on a work night. Kaitlyn, however, will roll her eyes if she hears the music from your headphones on a crowded subway train. I’ve no empirics, but I’ll bet two bits to a bottle of piss that 95 percent of all noise violation revenue any municipality in America ever benefited from was at the hands of Caucasians.
Being half-butt-ass-naked in cold weather
Letting your kids cuss you out
Talking back to cops
Treating your pets like humans
Fucking around with animals that can kill you instantly
“How I Met Your Mother”
Gluten-free anything (what the fuck is a gluten anyway?)