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Pre-2008 Posts

Stuff White People Like

Recycling

Recycling is a part of a larger theme of stuff white people like: saving the earth without having to do that much.

Recycling is fantastic! You can still buy all the stuff you like (bottled water, beer, wine, organic iced tea, and cans of all varieties) and then when you’re done you just put it in a DIFFERENT bin than where you would throw your other garbage. And boom! Environment saved! Everyone feels great, it’s so easy!

***

Expensive Sandwiches

Having already covered breakfast and dinner options, the question remains: what do white people like to do for lunch? The answer: expensive sandwiches.

In most cities, if you need to find a cache of white people get yourself to a sandwich shop. Generally these places aren’t open for dinner, have a panini press and are famous for their bread. There are always vegan options and the selection of meats and cheese are strongly European.

Heh heh

Discussion

45 thoughts on “Stuff White People Like

  1. I read the comments over there and it looks like they are not interested in anyone who does not hold their same “satirical” opinion, so I will not bother to comment. Even though white people (white men actually) have been imperialists, rapists, colonists, etc, what actually is accomplished by perpetuating a stereotype, even a dominant stereotype. It certainly is not funny when that stereotype is derogatory and is directed at someone who has been the brunt of society’s scorn for over 2000 years, like women, hmmm….women are whores. I understand how satire is fine if its intended target is the majority or the oppressor, but again, I must ask, what is beneficial to race relations (and yes it is necessarily to introduce race here since race is the signifier that makes these stereotypes “funny”) when divisive stereotypes are perpetuated. Instead of white, I would say it has more to do with class, if not, what are the entries implying that no one other than white people participate in said activities, and if that is what it says isn’t that dictating what other than white people are allowed to do in order to remain in their not white category.

    First, there is nothing funny about people who want to recycle. I had a fallen out with my friend who came here in August because she wanted me to unlock the windows while we were driving so she could throw out a McDonalds’s cups. WTF? We were one mile from home where we had recyclable bins. People who own property that could be open for the public cannot risk that because it costs them money to have to clean up people’s shit. I know because I live by such a space. Each day I take the dog back there, I find more trash that some loser dumped, an old washing machine, plastic chairs, etc. Why? Because they cannot afford the trash fees or just don’t give a damn as long as the trash is not on their property. Whatever, more like they are indifferent to anything but what they want, their generation. I know this for a fact. My mother has a trash service that her and my brothers do not utilise properly and because of their laziness and indifference, their land is becoming a dump. Oh but the high and mighty will label a group sanctimonious, a group who want to do something and sits around and talks about the latest light bulb that poor people cannot afford. Yes, that is correct, poor people cannot afford the bulbs so what should the people who can afford the bulbs do? Feel guilty and not use the bulbs. I can understand the criticism if those people who can afford the bulbs are going around bullying poor people for not having the bulbs but I have yet to see that. My husband buys the bulbs and up to his point, he has not beaten up someone who has not had the money to buy such bulbs he has never approached the subject. It is this all or none scorch the earth mentality. This I’m better than you are bullshit. People who recycle recycle, not because they think they are better or because they need to mitigate their guilt but because they want a space for future generations. Why the need to demonise those people I don’t know. And since when does a person have to be white to care about the earth. I guess we could all make some egocentric demand like “Until people do what I want them to do then I am going to destroy the earth.” Oh that’s rich. Thanks a lot, but in the mean time I want my grandchildren to have an earth the way I had an earth.

    As far as sandwiches, I know quite a few white people and I don’t see them running to these fancy sandwich shops. We could not afford sandwiches when I was growing up. Also the lunchmeat and/or deli meat is not good for our stomachs. I come from a line of people who feel and take in everything at their stomach, their emotional point. My aunt died at a mere 50 from stomach cancer. So I don’t know about all the rave who runs out and buys sandwiches. I do know however that my best friend in the whole world used to buy tons of lunch meat when her food stamps came and then would be broke after a week or so and have to eat beans and rice the rest of the month, she nor her children were white. Another woman who I let live with us while she was divorcing her husband was not white either and she bought Starbuck’s sandwiches at 7 bucks a pop.

    Yes, stereotypes are so funny…….I’m laughing my ass off as people are destroying the earth, buying big ass SUVs and throwing their cigarette butts out the window causing massive fires. Those zany white people. “Look there is a white woman, I bet she recycles and buys fancy sandwiches.” —-“Oh I’m sorry I don’t understand, you mean to tell me you don’t buy sandwiches and you cannot bother to recycle, my bad I have been hypothesised by stereotypes again.”

    I know, I know, lighten up, it’s just the planet.

    Posted by ekittyglendower | February 16, 2008, 12:32 am
  2. Hey, I like GOOD sandwiches. If they happen to be expensive, well, they just better be worth it!

    Posted by whatsername | February 16, 2008, 3:55 am
  3. Kitty, a lot of the reason I find this blog funny is, I know SO many white affluent people like this! Because I work with them every day. Yeah, they recycle, but that can never begin to offset the damage their gigantic, bigfoot footprint does to the earth. Yeah, they are all concerned about poison in food and preserving organic small farms, so concerned that they buy frozen dinners made of organic ingredients delivered to their downtown pricey condos on the water at $900-plus a week. I could go on and on. But they are so fricking arrogant in their “consciousness” so-called.

    You’re right though, women end up the butt of things like this, and it’s wrong, misogynist, destructive. You’re also right that stereotyping is destructive. Then again, I think there are some white people that might benefit from being on the learning end of race stereotyping. Stereotypes are lies– no matter who they are applied to. But, white men, especially, don’t get that, as is evident by the way they went misogynistically ballistic in the comments threads.

    The thing is, a lot of the people I know who recycle and buy organic DRIVE SUVS! Which is again why I see the point this blogger is making.

    But, I also see your point and thought some of the same things reading through.

    The other thing is, it’s only white women that would take a blog like this to heart! White men? Hell no.

    Posted by womensspace | February 16, 2008, 5:18 am
  4. The other thing is, poor people, of whatever race, for example, have never needed to be taught about “recycling,” or composting, or organic, sustainable agriculture. Or composting toilets. Or heirloom seeds. They’ve known all about that stuff for the longest. When you’re poor, you can’t go out and buy pesticides and garden tractors and all of that. You learn to pay attention to the cycles of the earth, how things grow, die back, you learn how to work with nature, as opposed to conquering it with pricey crap. My grandmother composted and rejected deep tilling and pesticides, and had redworm farms when I was a small child, long before it was ever all the rage. She was poor. She had gardens so gorgeous, everyone in town would drive by her house, and every year, she took blue ribbons for her prize chrysanthemums at the state fair.

    There’s a far cry from my grandmother and people like her and other people I know, all white, who pride themselves in their environmentalism because they read about heirloom seeds once and can talk about it over martinis.

    Which is who I think that blogger is talking about.

    Posted by womensspace | February 16, 2008, 5:24 am
  5. Also the bicycling thing! Re white people being all about their bicycles. Ohmygod, I know SO many white people like this, all proud that they ride their bikes to work. What they don’t apparently think about is, they can afford to live close enough to downtown Seattle that they can bike it to work! Something only the very wealthy can do! And of course, they did that by gentrifying the whole damn city and forcing the poor, working class people, marginalized people, homeless, severely out. There they sit with their ginormous salaries, bragging on riding their bikes to work, while the poor people they forced out have to get up three hours before they start work and take three or more separate buses to get to work now, they have to live so far away, just to find a place where they can make the rent every month.

    Posted by womensspace | February 16, 2008, 5:27 am
  6. Yeah there is some hot button there with me for sure probably because my recycling and continue recycling did originate with the necessity to recycle and to this day I still do not understand have a disposal type mentality. I was ridiculed a lot for my push every thing to the limit, or recycle things or refusing to throw something away and just buying a new one. One time when I was at work, I was like 21 or 22 and was going to the bathroom with my tube of toothpaste and toothbrush, the restroom was right in the middle of the office so anything in your hands was everyone’s business. So one woman made fun of me because my toothpaste tube was squeeze thin but it still had a good inch or two worth of toothpaste in it. She just stood there talking and laughing about my toothpaste. Then another woman joined in offering me her tube of toothpaste as if I was a charity case and should feel ashamed when I had plenty of toothpaste. They all made a big deal because I was using as much of the toothpaste that I could. The same goes for friends who made fun of me for sewing panties and bras. I’m not a cheapskate or a pack rat but honestly, what is the reason to just throw something away that is still perfectly useable other than trying to prove something. And what is the purpose to toss something just anywhere on the planet as if the world is this or that person’s rubbish bin. Jelly jars and other glass jars with wide mouths are used to hold office supplies and other things that I need a container for. Why should go to Wal-Mart and buy a bunch of plastic rubbish simply because I can. Will it make me superior to someone else because I can buy and throw away with abandon. I never thought I would see the day come when trying to do something good is ridiculed. I understand making fun of pretentious snobs like the bikers who moved into downtown (displaced others) and the feel good pseudo-liberals who think nothing of driving an SUV, but again to label that as what an entire group of people do is wrong and divisive and would justify in someone’s waiting in the wings with hatred in their hearts to return the favor and feel okay doing it because it was done to them.

    Not dumping on you Heart at all. Just some people don’t understand, truly understand how good they have and how good we all could have it. I know I am so desperate for a few trees and a field to roam that I could holler, just scream, and then I learn that there are people so indifferent to that desire that they are willing to destroy that possibility by discouraging recycling and other earth saving activities.

    Not to mention that the earth since the beginning of documented time has possessed a female persona, so I tend to take the raping of the earth quite personal.

    The environment is a hot button for me, I will have to remind myself this when I am reading on line.

    Posted by ekittyglendower | February 16, 2008, 6:17 am
  7. So true, EVERYTHING you say there, Kitty! I have had the same experiences as you because of my gigantic family and having to watch every penny. I remember a conversation I had with a friend years ago explaining why I didn’t wash clothes just because they got one drip of something on them or because somebody wore them once and they weren’t even dirty, but they were just on someone’s body once. I explained to her that the reason clothes wear out — I was SO conscious of this because this was a time when I was *making* all my daughters’ clothes on top of everything else I had to do — is in part that we wash them to death. I remember telling her, all that lint in the dryer filter is *your clothes*. Being worn out. She just laughed at me, honestly, like, what are you, crazy. And yet she viewed herself as sensible and responsible and kindly. I SO know about the toothpaste! I don’t only squeeze, I take a scissors and cut the end off of the tube! I wash the plastic sandwich bags out and in years past, I hung them on the clothesline where I hung my clothes. I saved, for years, EVERY plastic bread bag that came into the house so I didn’t have to buy plastic bags. I composted and recycled for years because I couldn’t afford trash pickup out in the country. And just like you, what the hell, if something is usable, why throw it away? I cannot tell you how much underwear I have patched up!

    You’re so right though, there’s this other thing. What is it that we are trying to get at here? Something like, the poor have ALWAYS recycled and made do and composted and used things up and so those of us who have been poor know all about that and don’t need to be told about it. But because we are white and educated maybe? We are presumed to be amongst the arrogant idiots who drive SUVs and move into apartments in buildings that once housed the homeless.

    The hot button is the erasure. It’s the contempt for poor people, and in my sensibilities, for rural people and old country people and indigenous people, who have always respected and revered the earth, the land and cared for it and lived responsibly *** because we and they depended on doing this in order to survive***. So we know these things. So to be lumped in with the rich bicycle riders as though we’re like them because we are white is just wrong.

    I find the blog funny, too, in this bitter way, because I live in the country and am watching it being gentrified by clueless city people and it is driving me right over the bend, here they come with their beauty bark, their black plastic under the beauty bark, their flowers in rows like soldiers, their organized and well-financed campaigns to “clean up” the farmsteads of people who made this place a place they wanted to move to. The newest push is, “no burning at all ever.” Spoken by a true city person who knows not one damn thing about living on the land. Argh.

    Posted by womensspace | February 16, 2008, 6:35 am
  8. I think it’s clash between those who are frugal and don’t waste because of necessity and those who do so because it makes them feel good. Trendy green issues can be a pain in the ass, as seen in Heart’s example of the no-burning-ever issue. Some people live on the land and some people want the land to be a bucolic Disneyland they can visit. I thought the Recycle entry in that blog was great! I am tired of being preached to about green/recycling issues by people who’s weekly consumption of fuel and foods is far above mine. I guess you have to have been there to relate to that entry. Where I live it is trendy to never accept plastic bags in the supermarket, instead you are encouraged to bring your own cloth bags.. but of course people still use plastic bags for all manner of things so now they BUY plastic bags rather than reusing the ones they once got with their groceries. There is nothing funnier than purchased plastic bags being carried home in a nice cloth bag..

    Recently we had a little Anti-Bush demonstration in my town, the theme and meme and signs being No War For Oil. Now I will admit I was cracking up seeing several families in my street at this demonstration who had driven to it when it takes exactly 6 minutes to walk there. But you know, there’s a steep hill and..

    I live in an area with real old hippies (mostly poor) and new age well-off folks and country people who have been here the longest. So many ridiculous scenarios and laws pushed by those who want their bucolic Disneyland.. thank goodness we can still burn stuff, but that is because we are in a fire danger area and they want people to clear their land. Otherwise believe me that would be forbidden.

    Posted by Arietty | February 16, 2008, 12:51 pm
  9. Hi Heart, Hi Kitty,

    Heh. I used to tell my daughter when she was a lil grrrl that “ecology is just poverty spelled backwards”. Heart, yeah, I’ve done all those things you do – actually, still do most of them.

    In my early childhood, all the housekeeping habits dated from the depression & WW2. They were wise and respectable habits, practiced by women of both working and middle classes.

    Well, maybe getting down on the hardwood floor on your hands and knees, as my mother did, to apply and polish floor wax was the mark of aspiring to the middle class.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | February 16, 2008, 2:26 pm
  10. Are the people behind the blog white? I think it matters. If they are white, I don’t see the point, so much. I wasn’t able to tell anything about the authors of the blog from skimming it, and I think THAT fact matters too.

    I’m not sure what the point is of a white person trumpeting the blog, especially if they’re (or in this case, you) doing it to say — or at least come off as saying — “hey, I’m not like those people, I’m good and all, which somehow makes me less white.”

    Posted by Rich | February 16, 2008, 3:28 pm
  11. Rich, I think I’ve explained, in a fair amount of depth, the value I see in this blog. Maybe like Arietty says, you needed to be there. The blog is, as Feminist Law Professors, I think it was, described it, “biting satire.” And biting satire does piss people off. It also usually includes a fair amount of truth, some of which is worth taking a good look at. I don’t really care who put the blog up. The only way I would care, would be if it were something someone I knew put up intending to attack me, heh heh. I don’t really care about sparing the feelings of white people, or sparing my own feelings as a white person, and I also don’t really care if someone thinks I’m saying I’m good and less white and distancing myself from white people. People think a lot of things and I have no control over that and in most cases, little interest in it. I just think there is some good stuff in that blog, for reasons I’ve listed. Apparently a lot of people agree with me, the blog has zoomed to the top of top WordPress blogs list! Which is how I came across it– I saw it on my dashboard.

    Yeah, Mary, re growing up learning Depression-era ways or hearing about them, as I did from my grandparents and aunts, “Use it up, Wear it out, Make it last, or do without.”

    I like some of what the city people have brought to the rural peninsula where I live. For one thing, we’ve had anti-war rallies here now, yay! Small, but hey. A few people meet regularly for Amnesty International meetings at the *tiny* local public library. The domestic violence shelter here — tiny, run by one woman for years, on a shoestring — is receiving some support and volunteers. I like some of the challenges to the good ol boys network of men, men and men who have basically controlled the community in various ways, including the sheriff’s department, which is hideously racist and members of which I’ve had many run-ins over the years for their harassment of my kids. A while back there was a fist fight in one of the Civic Center board meetings over a challenge someone raised to the handling of communitymoney, especially. Ha. Bitter ha. You would have to know how things operate in these tiny communities.

    But some of what the city people do is just over the top bizarre and absurd. There are people here who have farmed here for generations. The land surrounding mine, 125 acres, has been handed down through the generations of one family, and their parents are buried here on this land, in the pasture behind my sheep pasture. For example. Anyway, there are people here who love the land, but they are poor and they live in, to be courteous about it, very subpar housing that does not meet code! They have dead cars and trucks in their yards because they thought they could fix them, or because they couldn’t afford to have them hauled away for some reason, but they aren’t a bother to anyone, nobody even sees them, it’s the country, it’s not suburbia, it’s not apartments or condos in the city. Anyway, one of the projects of the people you describe so well, Arietty, who want the bucolic Disneyland for the few months of the year they live here, was to get the police to have helicopters fly over property suspected of harboring too many of these dead cars, and then when they documented the dead cars, the subpar housing, etc., they cited the people to force them to “clean everything up.” Well, these are poor people. They have no money to clean anything up and in the end, most of them will be forced off land they have cared for for many years, and then where will they go. Meanwhile, the new crowd will buy up the land at foreclosure auctions and work on making it part of the bucolic Disneyland. Not long ago there was a huge sign on the (one) main road through town: “Foreclosure Tour!” Dear god, sorry, but this is who it is, it is *rich white people* dancing a jig over having forced out poor people and buying what poor people struggled to create *dirt cheap* and building their god-forsaken identical houses that look like they belong in those endless gated communities full of identical houses that only, again, rich white people can afford.

    Ugh, I get so pissed off when I start thinking about this stuff.

    Posted by womensspace | February 16, 2008, 4:02 pm
  12. The blog seems to me to be clever satire. I actually thought it was rather accurate. I like panini sandwiches, and I recyle the easy way — separate trash bins are available all over Los Angeles, that automatically divide trash, plastic etc., and garden and grass trimmings.

    However, I do recall that in childhood, we recycled in paper bags, and then squashed the cans with our feet to take to the recycle place. I recall this as a good lesson my Mom was trying to teach me, since she was from the depression generation.

    What we all hate I think is the snobbery behind all of this. You know — the white ecology police being very different from the reverse rural people have for animals and farms etc.

    But I think this kind of satire just helps me as a white person think. It makes me realize how little (in specific detail) white people are actually described.

    Anyway, this is a huge issue. We have to be careful when women are attacked for recycling the “hard” way however, since we get stuck with the clean-up at home, while the men dump the oil in the oceans. Kind of a big difference here.

    Posted by Satsuma | February 16, 2008, 7:03 pm
  13. reverse should have been “reverent” == third paragraph from the bottom.🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | February 16, 2008, 7:04 pm
  14. I found that blog pretty funny, because I know sooo many people like that. I’m less offended by the generalization of white people than by these people being called city people – they are white but they are not city people! They are suburban. They grow up in the suburbs, go to college, move to the city for a while, and eventually move either back to the suburbs or to the country, often because they’re having kids and don’t consider the city appropriate for raising them.

    Those of us who grow up in the city find them just as annoying as country people, apparently for similar reasons. When they move into an area, the price of everything skyrockets, especially rent rates and property taxes. So whether you rent or own, you’re out. We lost our family house of 100 years to make way for a condo.

    As for calling them white people, well, obviously not all white people are like this, but people like are almost exclusively white. And yet curiously reluctant to talk about the overwhelming whiteness of their groups. At the (non-city) college I went to, I was involved in a women in engineering type group, which was full of women like this. At some point I was talking to one of them when she starting talking about how she loved that the group had such great diversity. I objected to that – our group was mostly white with some asian women. I then pointed out that the group – and the major, actually – didn’t have a single latina or black woman in it. She actually started *talking over me* to end the conversation, like she was thinking “OMG she’s talking about black people, ABORT! ABORT!” And we had initially started the conversation about the group’s outreach program, which was designed to encourage women, who are way underrepresented in engineering, to go into the field! Of course, when the schools for our program were chosen they were all suburban, none in the city and none in rural areas. I asked the woman who chose and contacted the schools why there weren’t any schools outside of the suburbs and she just said “Oh, I didn’t think of that”. Efforts to point out these kinds of problems were not well received. We are doing outreach and we are great for it, stop talking about how effective what we do actually is.

    And while that list is much more applicable to the people I was surrounded by when I switched majors, the stuff about recycling, bicycle riding, raising awareness, etc. is so accurate it’s painful. Painful because unlike people who NEED to conserve to survive and/or really care about how they affect the world, these people only do what symbolically indicates concern for the environment or whatever, not necessarily what would actually help. And they’ll stop caring if the trend turns elsewhere.

    Posted by keen | February 16, 2008, 7:06 pm
  15. So true, keen, great comment (and you’re so right, btw, that it’s really suburban people we’re talking about more often than not, not people who have always lived in the city).

    I like your comment too, Satsuma– I think I responded the way you did to this blog. I think we all know that anything people do so far as the environment is better than doing nothing! That’s a foregone conclusion. It’s not that the blogger is suggesting otherwise, I don’t think, more what you say, the snobbery of the ecology police who are almost always consuming a zillion times more than their fair share so far as what they consume, the cars they drive, etc.

    A while back there was a front page article in one of the Seattle papers about a family that has gone to all of these extremes to reduce their footprint. They dry clothes on drying racks. They use candles. They don’t own cars. They are vegetarian. On the one hand, I think this is great. On the other hand, there is way too little acknowledgement in articles like this of the fact that millions and probably billions of people in the world live this way of necessity. Then, too, the people who do this kind of thing are almost always white, degreed people, professionals of some kind. There’s nothing wrong with that, more just the way they are held up as point persons for environmental awareness or something like that when it is their station in life as middle class or upper class professionals that allows them to “downsize” in their remodeled, energy-efficient city bungalows near their workplaces in the ambience of their candlelit, furnished-with-antiques studies. Kind of a deal. A city version of the “bucolic Disneyland” these folks intend to turn rural areas into.

    Posted by womensspace | February 16, 2008, 7:30 pm
  16. I don’t think it hurts to be nudged in the old complacency every so often. And if the article doesn’t apply to you, then it doesn’t apply, and there’s no need to be upset.

    Simplification is one of those magic buttons that people try to press to make themselves happier. It’s a great theory, but often the simplification includes buying more stuff like scented fung shuei candles or hand-thrown Native American pottery (only for decoration). They don’t want to actually simplify, just buy prettier stuff and have that fix everything.

    Way back when the comic strip Cathy was actually funny, Andrea did something like this when her second child was born. They decided to ’embrace simple family values’, so she bought a knotty pine rocker and baby blankets woven from organic cotton.

    I know there’s plenty of stuff I could be doing more and better, but frankly after I get home from work, I’m TIRED. I know other people are tired too, and this isn’t really an excuse, but adding ‘learning about organic gardening and composting’ to my list of things to do, not to mention doing the actual gardening, makes me want to lie down with a cold cloth on my eyes and sob. I like the idea, but I’d like to have it happen by waving a wand (which is pretty darn simple, when you think about it ;)).

    Now everyone’s on the anti-plastic bag kick at grocery stores, like THIS is the problem that will ultimately crush the planet. It’s a trend as someone said. I inherited a ton of vinyl tote bags from Mom, and I use those for groceries, but it’s not a moral decision on my part. We always re-used the bags for carrying stuff, lunches, trash bags for small trash cans and so forth. I like them.

    Anyhow, as soon as I win 85 million at Powerball, I sincerely promise to take up simple living. In the meantime, at least my SUV is a hybrid.

    Posted by Miranda | February 16, 2008, 7:51 pm
  17. “Rich, I think I’ve explained, in a fair amount of depth, the value I see in this blog.”

    It’s not really my place to say why I don’t see value in the way you’re using it, but rest assured, it doesn’t have anything to do with me being offended or upset. I guess I’ll leave it cryptic like that, as, as I said, it’s not my place.

    Posted by Rich | February 16, 2008, 8:30 pm
  18. I think that the bloggers are careful to exaggerate the sanctimonious and contradictory aspects of white trends to avoid offending people: “You can still buy all the stuff you like (bottled water, beer, wine, organic iced tea, and cans of all varieties) and then when you’re done you just put it in a DIFFERENT bin than where you would throw your other garbage.” That’s not really making fun of people who care about the environment. It’s pointing out the cognitive dissonance of being an overeager consumer and pretending that tossing some refuse in a green bin absolves all responsibility.

    That said, it did make me cringe at first–especially the jokes about recycling and farmer’s markets–because those things mean a lot to me. When not dumping all your trash in the landfill is cast as an insufferably white, classist, tragically un-hip, and self-serving behavior, that jabs my heart a little. As a Kansan, I already face so much derision from bigots and conservatives who believe that recycling is a liberal agenda, that littering is the only human right that matters (except zzgun ownership), that anything (anything!) that does not shunt millions of dollars into oppressive corporations is like OMG Communist, etc.

    I like the blog a lot–I sat down yesterday and read all the archives. It’s hilarious, and I was kind of stunned at how WHITE I am. Tea? Check. Farmer’s Market? Check. Embarrassing fascination with 80’s music? Check. NPR? No TV? Likes going outside for no reason? Check Check Check. I had to laugh.

    It’s great that these writers are getting white people (like me) to think about how whiteness might appear to POC. Some of the entries examine the underlying racism of seemingly benign white behaviors. Most of all, I think it does a great job of de-normalizing whiteness. I walk around most days thinking of my lifestyle, my preferences, and my tastes as NORMAL, and I bet there are legions of whites that do the same thing. This is damaging because, by default, the lifestyle, preferences, and tastes of PoC are cast as abnormal or exotic. I know this is 101 stuff here, but I am just saying that I think satire on whiteness is a good thing. It reminds me of something I read a long time ago in a book called Lies My Teacher Told Me. There was a section critiquing the way American Indian religious practices are depicted as weird and insipid in high school history books. To make his point, the author wrote about Catholicism in the same way. (What follows is an extreme paraphrase.)

    “These people worship an image of a woman named Mary who gave birth to a son without having sexual intercourse. To show their devotion to her, they prayed in a brick structure with round windows symbolizing her unbroken hymen. On a certain day of the week, they would go on their knees before a holy man and eat pieces of bread, believing that the bread turned into Mary’s son’s body when it touched their tongues.”

    Kind of helps to see the dehumanization when it’s turned the other way.

    Sorry about the long comment. I got carried awayJ.

    Posted by Magpie | February 16, 2008, 8:33 pm
  19. I think “white people” is often used interchangeably with “privileged people.” I know exactly the type of person this Web site describes–before my husband and I left Chicago, the gentrifying neighborhood where we lived was lousy with them. And, in some cases, though I am a black woman, I am them. I love a good pannini, recycle my plastic and cans, and support the local farmer’s market in the summertime, though I would be doing more for the environment if I wasn’t commuting 60 miles from the burbs to my job every day.

    Posted by Tami | February 16, 2008, 8:44 pm
  20. Such great thoughts in this thread. Miranda: HA!!

    Magpie, tons of good stuff in your comment. I think what makes the Stuff White People Like blog effective, in part, anyway, is the blogger has an air of sort of detached bemusement, almost anthropological like, “Whoa, look at the bizarre things white people do!” She or he doesn’t do this in a hostile or dehumanizing way, but there is a certain decentering going on, or a participation in the decentering of whiteness. These interesting habits of, in the blogger’s mind, “white people,” are on a par with the interesting habits of other groups and races of people. White people are not the standard or somehow viewed as beyond laughing at or making fun of or criticizing, they’re just people like everybody else. The other genius of the blog is the underlying, tongue-in-cheek good-humoredness of it. The blogger really doesn’t seem hostile at all, at least to me, and I, too, do or have done a lot of the things the blogger describes. I *love* expensive sandwiches. But as I think about it, it is mostly white people I have seen in the expensive sandwich shops I’ve gone to. I don’t always like what I hear on NPR, but I find NPR sort of comforting buzzing in the background at times as I drive to the park n ride. I think satirizing whiteness might be a good thing, just as you say.

    Posted by womensspace | February 16, 2008, 9:02 pm
  21. Black comedians/comediennes regularly satirize whiteness like this, too, and I think it is often howlingly funny to watch. Richard Pryor was a genius at this going back to the 60s and 70s.

    Posted by womensspace | February 16, 2008, 9:09 pm
  22. Well, just read the first few posts, mostly about recycling and who does it, such as 1) yuppies and 2) the poor. Another group of natural recyclers is our parents (grandparents for the younger ones of you), those who grew up during the Depression. When we recycle, every little bit helps and the more people do it the more it adds up. In order to really make a difference though it helps to have everybody do it. That’s why in New Jersey recycling is THE LAW. We must do it, and there are SPECIAL TRUCKS that go house to house like garbage trucks picking up the recyclables. Otherwise we might BURY INDIANA under our trash. There was even a big battle about it in the Senate 15 years or so ago and New Jersey won that one, haha, but then we instituted mandatory recycling and I do hope it is making a difference.

    Posted by Branjor | February 16, 2008, 9:48 pm
  23. Heart, I think you’re exactly right about the anthropoligical slant–how it works to diffuse ill-feeling and create a safe space to laugh. You said, “White people are not the standard or somehow viewed as beyond laughing at or making fun of or criticizing, they’re just people like everybody else.” I agree. Humor, when done right, can humanize instead of dehumanize.

    I was kind of disappointed in the comments there, though. I noticed a couple of instances of “What if this blog was What Black People Like wouldn’t that be racist????” I also saw accusations of reverse racism and other clues that some people think that whiteness (or privilege, as Tami said) should be exempt from examination.

    Regarding being exempt from derisive comedy: I’m thinking about that old canard about how South Park is so enlightened because it makes fun of *everyone* equally, so anyone who gets sickened by the onslaught of woman-hating/racist/fatphobic/anti-gay jokes is a tightassed prude. All I know is that everyone was NOT made fun of equally; there were people exempt from derision, and they were:

    Privileged American libertarian white dudes under 40.

    (Curious, I know.)

    Posted by Magpie | February 16, 2008, 10:32 pm
  24. Branjor, I envy you! I live in Kansas, and my middling town is at risk for being buried by trash unless we pay for a new landfill to supplement the already brimming one just outside city limits. Here, recycling is seen as kind of subversive–or leftwing loony, depending on who you ask, but in most places, it’s just common sense! Our only recycling center is at Wal-Mart of all places, and every citywide attempt to institute mandatory curbside recycling has been met with cries about how Communism has taken over the country.

    And I do think it makes a difference. It may not seem like much week to week, but consider a lifetime of recycling. That’s a pile of trash 10 miles high that you’ve avoided putting in the ground. And if your whole state is doing it–Wow.

    Posted by Magpie | February 16, 2008, 10:49 pm
  25. Brahaha!

    That is all.

    Posted by NattyFeak | February 16, 2008, 11:37 pm
  26. Just saw this in the onion and it reminded me of this thread/conversation: http://tinyurl.com/yuw2qw

    Posted by Erin | February 17, 2008, 12:15 am
  27. OMG I think that blog is HILARIOUS! It is so on-target about so many things! The privilege…the privilege…

    It’s about time someone made fun of sanctimonious white people who think they know everything.

    I include myself in that category. My privilege spills all over the place, and when it’s pointed out to me, I am both shamefaced and gratified.

    Posted by tinfoil hattie | February 17, 2008, 1:08 am
  28. I just want to add something about the cloth bags. They sell them everywhere here now and the push is on for everyone to bring their own cloth bags to the supermarket.

    I have a large family. I do not have a car. I don’t always know how much I’ll be buying, based on sales etc.. I would have to carry like 20 cloth bags around with me everywhere all the time! I refuse to do this. Consequently I have an argument nearly every time I go to the supermarket about my asking for bags. I also ask for MORE bags than they give because they are happy to put 10lbs of stuff in a very thin bag that will break before I even get into the street. I tell them, “I am walking, I need several bags for this stuff so the bags don’t break..” and then I have to listen to a blurb about how the supermarket is eco-friendly and doesn’t like to give out bags. Sometimes I’ve even had to speak to the manager and explain why it is not acceptable to me to have my child carrying one bag with 10lbs in it, just because you can cram all that in. I’m walking people, I don’t have a car, where is my medal for this?!?! Why am I being castigated over using plastic bags?!

    (The bag issue is red herring in this country Australia which has no shortage of landfill area, being virtually empty. There are much more important eco-issues, I almost thing it’s a way of distracting people from facing them.)

    Ugh. And Heart we have the same deal with substandard housing and old cars here. I have friends who have been reported to the council continually by their, yes wealth city-fleeing neighbours because their house is falling apart and there are old cars in the yard. I actually had a yuppie couple tell me they loved this area but the problem with it was “the older residents who were eccentric and who’s houses brought the property values down”.

    I wish I could give a virtuous Green answer to queries about why my family doesn’t have a car. This would be very impressive. But truthfully we don’t have one because we choose not to spend our money on such a money pit. Public transport is cheap and extensive, even out here. If we did have a car we would be a lot poorer.

    Posted by Arietty | February 17, 2008, 1:14 am
  29. Actually, I have never been a suburban person, and have always lived in big cities, right near downtowns. I get very lonely in suburbs when I visit them. If there’s no graffiti nearby, and no huge variety of economic and ethnic groups, then I feel like I’m drowning in vanilla🙂

    That said, I still really love panini!

    Posted by Satsuma | February 17, 2008, 1:30 am
  30. Go Arietty! So true re the bags and walking! And yeah, where is your medal for not owning a car? Ohmygod, Erin, that onion thing is too bitterly and horribly funny. The truth about “leftist” “progressive” white men, and it IS the truth about them.

    That does it, I am going to post another thing that is relevant to this thread and again so true about progressive, leftist, environmentalist white guys that I read last night in the Weekly.

    Posted by womensspace | February 17, 2008, 1:52 am
  31. This is from the “Uptight Seattleite” column in the Seattle Weekly which I read on my commute home yesterday. It’s another tongue-in-cheek, satire thing about the quirks of native Pacific Northwesterners (of which I am one, and I think it’s hilarious usually. :)) The uptight Seattlite is a middle-aged white guy and he supposedly answers questions about Seattleites and tries to interpret them for people who aren’t from here and don’t understand.

    ****

    What’s With the Public Displays of Tai Chi?
    February 13, 2008

    Dear Uptight Seattleite,

    Please explain the compulsion some Seattleites feel to practice tai chi in public. This week on the Seattle-bound run of the Winslow ferry, I observed a middle-aged man practicing tai chi who looked like he was going to mate with the bulkhead, until he almost fell down. Note that it was a calm day and there were no swells. A regular on the ferry told me the man does this every morning. My dog and I always see this other guy who’s tai chi’d to death all the grass around a tree in a park near my house. I see the same thing at Volunteer Park, Green Lake, and other places around the city: middle-aged white guys sweeping the air in elaborate, self-conscious slow motion. Why do they have to do it in public?Why Chi?

    Dear Why Chi?

    Why indeed? Why do these peaceful practitioners bother you so much? Is their presence a silent rebuke to your own rushing, unreflective state of mind? Please don’t be offended—I’m exploring possibilities here, not pointing fingers. I do confess, however, to a concern about the disdain I sense is coiled up inside your phrase “middle-aged white guys.”

    These men may seem laughably irrelevant to whatever important thing you’re rushing off to. They may be far removed from the glittering sideshows thrown up by the media to distract us from the true state of the world. But is it not the case that wisdom may be contained in the least comely of vessels? Next time, pause for a moment to ponder the contents of these headband-sporting gray heads. Consider that, as they slowly push at the air, they are also pushing at the limitations of our culture itself. They’re urging it, and us, to slow down and feel the quiet rhythm of a healthy spirit.

    Indeed, for them to practice in public is an act of generosity, offered to the world with great humility. Also, for the record, there were in fact very rough waters that day on the Winslow ferry.

    ***

    Dear Uptight Seattleite,

    Why do microbrews give me less of a hangover than regular ol’ Bud?Quizzical Quaffer

    Dear Quizzical Quaffer,

    Look no further than the honest, yeasty sediment on the bottom of the glass. It’s packed with vitamins or amino acids or something. A Pike Place or Mac & Jack’s on tap is almost a meal in itself. That’s only part of it, though. More important are the workers who brew the stuff. Perhaps you’ve seen pictures of them in advertisements. They are as Utilikilted a splendor of eccentrically bearded manhood as you could ever hope to see. Dedicated to their craft with a simplicity of soul that derives from their majestically pure sense of guy-ness. Every drop of their small-batch craft beers is infused with the love of this veritable church of latter-day lumberjack saints. Budweiser, by contrast, is made in China by slave robots.

    ***

    Snort.

    Posted by womensspace | February 17, 2008, 1:58 am
  32. What a thought-provoking blog! It doesn’t make me mad or defensive, but it does make me see how very, very white I am. There are some things on that list that I don’t like at all/are not true for me, but there are many things on the list that I DO love and/or are true for me.
    I buy almost exclusively organic produce at the local Co op and farmer’s market and love NPR and 80s night and tea and grew up on the ocean and am a board member of a non-profit and do yoga and shun “mainstream” stuff and get panic attacks in Walmart. Sigh.

    Posted by Eeni B. Bella | February 17, 2008, 4:17 am
  33. “I also ask for MORE bags than they give because they are happy to put 10lbs of stuff in a very thin bag that will break before I even get into the street.”

    That happened to me all the time! Even double-bagged stuff would just rip a hole through both bags halfway home. This was actually the reason I ended up getting one of those cloth bags. The grocery store had some one day that actually looked sturdy (most of the ones I’ve seen don’t look that much better than the plastic bags) and since it was cheap I ended up getting one. It turned out to be as sturdy as it looked and holds much, much more than any other cloth bag I’ve ever seen. And yet, still not enough sometimes (and I’m only one person, not a big family), so I’ll often use the cloth bag and yet still need some plastic bags as well. I’ve gotten weird looks from some people doing that – like I’ve somehow tainted the eco-friendly cloth bag by it using with plastic bags.

    And yeah, I’ve had suburban people assume I had no car for environmental reasons. They’re always surprised to find out I don’t even have a license and often don’t understand the reason even when I explain it. I didn’t get one when I was 16 because it would have raised my mom’s insurance rates (teen driver in the house), which we really couldn’t afford then, and just haven’t really had reason since then. Telling them this gets either a bewildered look or them saying something like “but that only raises rates by a few hundred dollars!” I usually respond with “yeah, that would have raised the rates by few hundred dollars” and see if they get it. Which they still often don’t.

    Posted by keen | February 17, 2008, 5:06 am
  34. Does anyone else remember Martin Mull and his book “The History of White People?” It was a lot like this, twenty years ago. He also did this as part of his standup comedy routine and there is a multi-part DVD (white religion, white stress, etc.). My favorite part was where he talked about white people and their obsession with mayonnaise – can’t eat a sandwich without mayo. I’m not doing it justice. Guess you’d have to have seen the original.

    Posted by ceejay1968 | February 17, 2008, 7:02 am
  35. I don’t have a license either and at this point I cannot be fecked getting one. This is only seriously inconvenient 2 or 3 times a year at the most and when that happens I just use a taxi. I am so far ahead financially from not having a car that this is not even painful. I hate the idea of being dependent on a car and the naked terror that strikes when you realize your decrepit car is gong to DIE and your life will be thrown into total chaos and you have no money to solve this problem. I don’t like being in that kind of relationship with a machine. The washing machine crapping out is a bad enough experience.

    And no I never try and explain this to people because it sounds rather addled. Most people have resources, either money or family to get them out of these binds and don’t relate to someone who does not have such resources. I do wish sometimes though that I could be an Eco-Saint on this issue rather than being honest and coming across as eccentric, LOL.

    Posted by Arietty | February 17, 2008, 1:10 pm
  36. Oh, my sympathies to anyone living in the country who has to put up with uber-rich medical specialists and the like buying up the land all around the real country people and then trying to impose gentrification malaise upon those who cannot freaking afford it! I was raised in the Appalachian country side by working-class, Depression-era parents who raised their own vegetables and fruits and did all their own repairs. The “native” old country people in the area were simply the best folks imaginable, welcoming my child self into their homes at any time for hot biscuits and honey, fresh melon, checker games, etc.

    By the time I was grown, the a number of the old folks had died and their kids had sold off their lands to rich people who then started to harass the few remaining working class people, including my dad, to live up to their monied standards. I got nasty, snooty calls at my workplace about his “horrible, dented old truck” being parked in a visible location, his back fields not being mowed to golf green standards, and when his back fence didn’t please the doctor who’d built a huge three-level log “cabin,” the good medico just TOOK IT DOWN and built a barn on my dad’s land!

    Deep, breath. Calming down, now.

    Despite my lily-white skin and British Isles/German ancestry, I don’t feel like I’m really white sometimes, maybe because I don’t have the money to be. Real whiteness is a class thing, isn’t it? And since I’m all for tweaking the rich, I suspect I would enjoy reading “Stuff White People Like” quite a bit. 🙂

    Posted by Level Best | February 18, 2008, 3:21 pm
  37. Thanks for all the comments about not owning cars. I would say this small lifestyle change was what launched my career.

    People have no idea how women owning a car too young will really impact their bottom line. Big time. So this is why mass transit is really valuable to women. Remember the Montgomery bus boycott? Think it was Martin Luther King’s idea? Guess again. Most of the riders affected by segregation and back of the bus rules were hard working black women.

    Eveyone needs to get what money is about, and how the invisible should be made visible. It seems to me a basic tenant of feminism is simply to know and try to understand the lives of women at every level of society, and to do the same for women around the world.

    And then it’s important to know when women are being left out of a particular equation, and acknowledge this. You don’t have to go on a march or change anything, you simply have to know and try to understand. That’s the key.

    Posted by Satsuma | February 18, 2008, 9:31 pm
  38. I have been car-free for 21 years.
    It’s not fun to wait for the bus in the rain, bike to my job in the rain, work outside in the rain, but I do all of these in Oregon everyday, mostly because I want to. That said, I do have more options as a white person with a college degree – I am a life-long renter, and always try to live close to the city center. I laughed so hard at the comment that the health food stores are filled with ‘environmentalists’ in their SUVs – so true!!
    None of my friends would ever do what I’m doing, and I do get tired of it when the bus is twenty minutes late, which it often is
    in Portland. But America is too isolating enough anyway; at least I’m on a bus with other human beings, rather than alone in a car.

    Posted by shy virago | February 18, 2008, 11:41 pm
  39. shy virago we try and say “car free” as you did because it says this is a positive choice. I am free of so many expenses, worries and endless tasks. My friends pick up their teens from half a mile away–mine walk. They pick up their teens from 1/4 of a mile away if it’s raining–mine carry umbrellas. We do live about 7 minutes walk from the train and I do live in a city with extensive public transport (which people endlessly complain about, ignorant of how extensive and cheap it is to just about every other western city).

    About twice a year we rent a car and buy bulk items such as 10,000 rolls of toilet paper lol.

    I have met lots of nice people on the trains and buses, in fact there is a little community of folk who know each other from public transport.

    I’m grateful I have the opportunity to be car free, I know this isn’t possible in every city.

    Posted by Arietty | February 19, 2008, 1:32 am
  40. One more thought:

    I love dogs. I don’t have one, but take care of other people’s dogs and friend’s dogs. It is a little strange to me that people will treat their dog better than they treat each other.
    In the Portland Gentrification Listening Project, some things that African Americans have said about white poeple and their dogs:
    “They’re nice to their dogs, but not to us”
    “This used to be our neighborhood. Then all these white people moved in, and now the backyards where we used to
    play as kids are for their dogs to poop in.”

    Posted by shy virago | February 20, 2008, 5:46 pm
  41. ***“This used to be our neighborhood. Then all these white people moved in, and now the backyards where we used to
    play as kids are for their dogs to poop in.”***

    Funny how gentrification seems to be the reverse of ghettoization. I grew up in the Bronx, N. Y. and the neighborhood I played in is now completely African American/Puerto Rican. I wouldn’t be welcome back there.

    Posted by Branjor | February 20, 2008, 11:40 pm
  42. good posts, and Brilliant topic, oh so true,

    o.k. well coming from a poor white trash [cuzz we live in a trailer park, I’m so used to being stereotyped even by other poor, that its an inside joke now, never mind that we are educated, were from middle class or lower middle class, etc. that doesn’t matter], but anyhow,

    lived through gentrification, too many times, and Forced laws regarding cars, etc., even in mobile home parks, the amount of money we are FORCED to spend on lawn upkeep, that takes heavy amount of water because the city/rich DEMAND certain, aesthetics,

    well, put it this way, its always, do we do the yard, and neglect the kids dental, or do the dental, and risk eviction. So we do what we can, never arriving to a place, of not being in one crisis to the next, and frankly so MUCH of it is due to aesthetics and being forced to,

    one poster here said something about poor being forced out, Right on, and thats Exactly what it is too, the POOR who have been recycling [love the ecology reverse of poverty, HOW TRUE], living frugal, because its a matter of survival, pinching pennies, are the ones often blamed for the earth’s woes,

    its like with thrift spending and clothing reconstruction, its like this, what the POOR have done to survive, is now a ‘chic’ thing to do, as environmentalist, etc. And then it becomes something that is ‘marketed’, now it Costs a big buck, to do some of the things our grandmothers did, out of necessity. Now there are fancy compost bins that costs in the 200s,

    but if you Dare use or do the old fashioned way, you have the city banging [or home association] at your door, writing you up [or mobile home park people, same thing but its all under Smart Development and the Utopic land use dream].

    I don’t see this really as an issue of white verses but of class, maybe because I live in poor areas where its a bit diverse, not that we don’t see racism or the white yuppies but we see Hispanic yuppies and African American yuppies too. We do have the run down banged up car, for us, it is necessity to keep it, can’t afford to buy one, our car, though old, is paid for, a clunker. We usually use the bus,

    but when my kid gets injured and I need to go to the hospital in a hurry, I’m not going to wait three hours on bus and waiting for bus transfers to get there…nor take ambulance, which would bankrupt us medical does that already,

    so, its a matter of, survival. Most around here, have cars with no tags, no insurance, not because they are irresponsible, but because, they are dirt poor. If they don’t have cars, they can’t get to work,

    the bus only runs in one district, runs only at certain times, because we are rural, we are told, there isn’t a Need for bus, etc.,

    there is, but there is the high development, rich, who drive the cars [and are the ones pushing for cleaning up us white poor trash and removing the mobile home parks eventually] and who have the SUVs,

    but they aren’t all white, thats for sure. I can’t say everything we do is ‘environmentally correct’, and I guess, after years of working in FANATICISM [thats what I call it now, why I’ve gone a-political] I’ve just learned,

    its so easy to judge, like, people using packaged foods, well, for women who work and have families, sure, like they really have time, to slice whole chickens, marinate, do all the fancy things and set environmentally correct this and that and then all the Extra work,

    and for the hippies that don’t have cars, don’t do this, don’t do that, etc., [and some anarchists], yea, here’s the grit on That one,

    ITS NINETY PERCENT OF THE WOMEN, DOING THE HARD, MANUAL LABOR SO THEY CAN LIVE LIKE THAT.

    That they DON’T tell you, why many of the women by the time they are 30 looked beat, exhausted and older,

    well, Sure, if you are being Super Eco-Woman! And bearing children and having to do all the extra, to live like they did in pioneer days,

    Seriously, yea, we’ve read the Firefox books, my husband has said, hey lets get a cabin in Alaska and live like this and this, I say, Sure, while I’m the one fetching water from stream, I’m the one washing clothes on a board, I’m the one having to skin dinner then cook then quilt so we don’t freeze to death, what then do You the Male do dear?

    Oh, he writes, as he lounges around, smoking his peace pipe with the other Environmental MALES, his new novel, of the glory and sacrifice and rewards of living environmental and ecologically friendly,

    see Thats the reality, too often, of this so called [recycling/environmental Fanatical movement], don’t get me wrong, I am an environmentalist,

    but the whole Eco-super woman, I can do without, thank you very much. And for the rich wanna be ‘see we recycle so look, our wealth and consumption, can be looked over, etc’ wanting to FORCE their laws and gentrified ‘beige world’ on the rest of us,

    think, to that, I’ll go burn some trash [like my elderly neighbor does, a woman who is 80, who can’t afford heating bills, who burns junk mail to heat her home though they’ve told her she can’t],

    and make a toast, here’s to Walden’s Civil Disobedience and Environmental Uncorrectness!
    🙂

    Posted by Tasha | February 22, 2008, 11:42 pm
  43. Hey, Tasha, YES re public transportation out in rural areas. One thing I did that I am proud of is, I talked the local transit system into adding a bus stop about six-eight blocks from our place, which is as close as a bus could come because of the gravel roads, no turnarounds, etc. You have to call in and reserve the bus 24 hours ahead, it only comes Monday to Friday, and they can only give you a rough estimate of when it will be there, but before that there was no bus that came anywhere near enough for us to get it in an emergency, and no taxis come out on the peninsula where I live, period! One time I desperately needed a cab and called every taxicab company within 50 miles, none would send a cab out our way.

    That’s a whole different subject, the rural poor, it is a subject I know a lot about and get enraged talking about. I wonder why people think poor people have dead cars on their property? Do they think they just like the looks of them or what? No, they are poor and they live in the country, either because they were born and raised there or because there is still affordable housing there (because there are no jobs and nobody wants to live there of course!), and there is no public transporation, and of course, since there are also no jobs, they need a way to get to work.

    So they scrounge up money and buy someone’s beater car and it runs for a while and then it stops and needs a repair they can’t afford. If you are poor, an $85 repair might as well be $850 at times. But they keep the car because eventually they want to get that repair and they try to find some other way to work, or hitchhike or get fired or whatever. Of course, then if the $85 doesn’t do it to fix the car and it needs more pricey repairs, they turn to finding another beater to buy figuring they will fix the first car when their ship comes in. People can accumulate a number of cars this way and especially if there are several people in the family. When finally they try to get rid of the cars, unless it’s a car that has some value to somebody, you guessed it, they have to pay to have it towed away.

    I have horror stories galore about cars. A couple of years ago, I got a notice in the mail that a car that had belonged to one of my daughters, a total beater, had been towed and I owed something like $600 for it with hundreds added daily. I thought what the heck. Long story short, years before, the car had been sitting in the yard and a guy came to the house and asked whether he could tow it away because he worked on cars. So my daughter, being a trusting soul, said sure, that way she got it out of the yard. The problem is that at some point, he moved away from wherever he was living and left the car there, having never transferred the title, which was in my name. So I was screwed. I had no choice but to pay this huge amount of money or get my driver’s license suspended if I didn’t!

    That’s another thing people don’t realize about being poor and the way people can spiral into homelessness and hopelessness. If I would not have been able to scrounge up the money to pay for this totally dead beater car I thought was long gone, I’d have had my license suspended. To get it back, I’d have had to pay $250 plus the $600 or whatever it was for the ticket for the “abandoned vehicle”. If you’re poor, you can’t pay that, so you keep driving with a suspended license, and when you get stopped again, if you do, you are so screwed and might have to pay thousands or go to jail.

    So many people pray on people too, out in the country. They will do things like offer to haul someone’s trash to the dump, take their money, then dump the trash alongside the road somewhere. Then the police or whoever goes and looks through the trash, gets an address, and whoever’s trash it is gets a huge ticket for illegal dumping. When, in fact, they paid someone, they thought, to haul their trash! You guessed it, this happened to me, though indirectly. I had given my daughter and her boyfriend the money to take stuff to the dump and they encountered a “friend” who offered to drive it in for them because he “knew the owner,” that way supposedly we would save money. But the guy dumped it along the road somewhere. Then other people, seeing the stuff dumped there, added their own stuff! By the time I got notice from the county of my dumped stuff that I thought had been taken to the dump, there was twice as much stuff there and I had to clean it all up, take it to the dump, and then go to court and explain what happened. I did get my ticket dismissed, but I had to take a day off work, etc.

    Garbage trucks do not come to my house, because they can’t come down the very long windy, narrow gravel road. That means I have to haul trash cans several blocks uphill to where they can be picked up. I can do this because I am strong enough to put the cans in the back of my van, and I *have* a van in the first place. Old people or people who are disabled or just not strong or whatever are not going to be able to haul their trash cans many blocks up to wherever they can get their trash picked up. So they do what they can, burn what they can, compost. But if the wrong kind of person comes along and sees their dead cars or their trash or them burning stuff they figure should not be being burned, or whatever, one call to the county does it and the person has a huge ticket to pay.

    There is an endless number of ways to harass and hound the poor and force them out, and then, of course, the rich, or the middle class trying to become rich, buy up their “distressed” properties and talk over tea and crumpets about what lazy good-for-nothing deadbeats the previous owners were.

    Argh.

    Posted by womensspace | February 23, 2008, 12:32 am
  44. Tasha, Heart, your last two posts remind me of a phrase I read years ago: “The poor pay more.” It is all too true. In order to get the necessities of life–groceries, transportation, medical care–the poor often have to resort to measures that end up costing them much more (and I mean in reality, not just in proportion to what they can afford) than better-off persons would EVER have to pay. The towed-car story made me shudder!

    Dead on correct, Tasha, it is NOT a black/white thing we’re talking about here, it IS a class thing. The more privileged of any skin tone really can’t imagine the constant worry and baseline irritation that poorer people go through every single day of their life just trying to take care of things that don’t even register with people who have money. All utilities are going up constantly, gas prices rising incrementally, rents topping out–and salaries for store clerks, secretaries, food-industries workers, and other real-life jobs (that women can actually get) are deadlining. Companies get sold to other companies who then abolish pensions and insurance plans for workers. Why oh why, is this legal? One of my best friend’s sisters worked in a factory with a pension plan for 20+ years only to hear from the new owners that the pensions were, whoosh!, gone.

    Tasha, Heart, and many others I’ve seen commenting here about economic issues for a long time, are very intelligent women. Many people without economic privilege are well-educated, through winning scholarships (like me) and/or by means of their own reading outside of a college classroom, and know very well which bus is running them over.

    The 19th century English novelist George Gissing is one of my favorites: he wrote very, very often about people who through reading elevated themselves in knowledge, speech, and expectations above their underclass of origin yet couldn’t make find a way to make enough money to have comfortable lodging, eat well, or dress well. He called these individuals, some of whom wrote for a living as he did, the “unclassed.” I speak as well as anyone I work with/for and thanks to hitting 90% off sales at the best stores dress even better than they do, but I am one of the “unclassed.”

    Pretty much, I think women who are outside the fold of men able to confer privilege on them are all among the unclassed. Horatio Alger stories are common; where are the Hypatia Alger stories?

    Posted by Level Best | February 25, 2008, 3:16 pm
  45. “Pretty much, I think women who are outside the fold of men able to confer privilege on them are all among the unclassed. Horatio Alger stories are common; where are the Hypatia Alger stories?”

    You don’t need men in your life to earn a good living, but you do have to be very careful how you choose and get trained for various professions.

    Since most women are heavily subsidized by men, they often don’t know these things. When they get divorced things change quickly.

    Women should make sure they get the education and training they need so they never have to get money from men. In an age of 50% divorce, you’d be a fool not to know this.

    Posted by Satsuma | February 26, 2008, 8:16 am

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