It is time for the annual racial extravaganza. Each semester, I have my Intro Soc students complete an assignment I call the “Things I Like” exercise. They are each asked to anonymously answer the following four prompts:
Things I Like About Being [insert racial self-categorization]:
Things I Don’t Like About Being [insert racial self-categorization]:
Things I Like About [insert racial group to which I do not belong]:
Things I Do Not Like About [insert racial group used in previous prompt]:
I require that the students of color in my class address “whites” in the final two questions, in part because some semesters I have so few students of color, that I chance having no mirror image for the majority of the students to face.
I built the exercise with the help of a TA many semesters ago (thank you, ETS), and it was developed in consultation with Peggy McIntyre’s famous “backpack” metaphor.
I’m going to hunt down the previous iterations [ed. these have been added, at the bottom]. Here are this year’s answers…with some highlighting to call attention to some (of what I think are) interesting answers:
Things I Like About Being White:
never discriminated against and am not a minority
not constantly aware of my race
I fit in with the majority
I have a definite advantage for jobs when I get out of college due to unfair stereotypes.
I also like having brown curly hair due to racial genetic formations.
Given the nature of our current society, I am able to experience more liberties and benefits that are open to me.
Being part of the majority
Not feeling out of place
Not being a victim of racial discrimination
I am not discriminated against for most reasons.
I have power compared to other racial groups.
I like that, at least in the U.S., that “white” is the “default setting.”
I also like that there are less negative stereotypes towards whites than almost every other racial group.
i feel safer because I know it is a big deal if anyone tries to hurt me.
no history of oppression will never be treated badly, second-guessed in any public place
i feel as if i can talk and form relationships with more people.
my race gives me an unconscious comfortability with other white people.
I’m part of the majority.
I like my cultures.
not being questioned that my success is attributed to racial help
not being discriminated against in any way
i feel like i am never am a victim of discrimination
i am not constantly aware of my race. people in general accept my ideas and beliefs as legitimate
the spirited nature of our culture.
It is a family-centered, fun-loving community that enjoys celebration, not just of successes and landmark events, but also the celebration of one another’s company.
I live socio-economically above many minorities.
usually don’t have to deal with racial prejudice
being part of the majority opposed to the out group not facing racial discrimination
i like not having to face issues like racism because I feel as though I’m the norm.
I also feel like I will never be hindered by my race or ethnicity.
i am not discriminated against because of my skin color.
i am the majority…and i do not have to worry about being an outsider in a predominantly white society.
not ever having to worry about racial prejudice (in job market, home buying, everyday converion)
it’s “easy” to be white–the vast majority of Americans are white
we are the majority in America
Don’t have to worry about discrimination.
Things I Like About Being African American/Black
the cultural aspects associated with my race that have contributed to other cultural factors in society, such as food, clothing, and music.
I enjoy the close knit family and religious valued passed on in upbringing.
I enjoy the close relationships with any other blacks, no matter where you go in the country. Basically, blacks recognize other blacks and tend to be more open to friendships, even if you don’t know them.
Enjoy emphasis of history: MLK, etc.
people assume I’m cool, and athletic
Being different than most people (whites)
I like that hip hop culture is associated with my ethnic group
i like the way god made me.
I like to see other black people make it through adversity
Things I Like About Being Inter-racial/Multi-racial
a mix of everyone (well just about) so it’s fun to be able to experience different cultures.
I feel unique when people ask about my background I like experiences different traditions and customs. I feel like I get double the fun!
Things I Like About Being Asian/Asian-American
People think that I’m intelligent.
Close ties to my family and relatives
Easily forming close friends with other Asians
My parents are protective of me because I’m the only child (1 child policy).
I eat Chinese food on a daily basis (not anymore though)
vietnamese customs add another element of culture to my life
considered to be smarter (even though it’s probably not true)
If I ever need anybody to hang out with, the Indian network is a very powerful one and they will gladly accept me.
Because I feel independent.
I feel self sufficient.
The fact that I am bilingual.
Things I Like About Being Hispanic/Latino
I like my family unity and close family converion.
I like being able to seclude myself with other members of my race when I need comfort (by speaking Spanish).
Things I Don’t Like About Being White
there is really nothing that i do not like about my race.
I don’t like being white because, especially at a place like Vanderbilt, there is nothing unique about it.
I have been stereotyped as racist just because I’m white
Whites are obsessed with being thin and perfect
the stereotypes that I am a rich, spoiled kid because I am white and go to a good college.
I have been put at risk of being excluded from things because of Affirmative Action.
Not having the perspective of other racial groups who have to face issues such as prejudice
lack of contact with other racial groups
social norm that I should associate myself primarily with my own racial group
I am grouped together with the majority and appear to be the oppressor of other ethnic/racial groups.
That just because my exterior is white, I am assumed to have no cultural traditions or beliefs of my own.
I don’t like that many people will assume I only associate with other white people. I don’t like that being white is the primary basis for first impressions.
I dance white. With modern society many white kids are becoming extremely disrespectful not only to authority but to family–parents, grandparents, etc.
sometimes feel awkward when I am around people of a different race; very worried about saying something and it coming off the wrong way; people sometimes assume that because I’m white I’m racist.
never getting the perspective of those who face racial discrimination the social norm that i should associate myself with other whites
because I am white, it is very easy for me to be judged as a judgemental or racist person. i cannot understand what it is like to have people separate themselves from me, just by looking at me-I am spoiled in a racist context i am separated from other racial groups
Sometimes I feel like I can’t interact with some other racial/ethnic groups because I’m not a part of it. I don’t understand because I am white.
being identified by characteristics of white people constantly even if I don’t adhere to them
I don’t like not having an understanding bond or closeness with someone because of race I also don’t like how white people compensate for this (lack of ethnic pride) by identifying other whites as Irish Americans or Polish Americans to gain a sense of separation.
not unique in my society–most of the people around me are white
I don’t feel like I have a strong cultural identity and I feel guilty when I learn about racism, simply because I am a member of the oppressive race.
assumptions that whites feel above everyone else that white people have no rhythm (or that they can’t dance, etc.) assumptions that we’re all racist
i feel as if my needs are ignored by major institutions. they tend to view the needs of minorities as more pertinent. association with traditional modes of prejudice. i come from a family who emigrated to America in the 20s. Although my family experienced extreme racial profiling, I feel as if our experience has been ignored by modern racial classification.
the stereotype that we [Irish-Americans] are all alcoholics and that to celebrate with one another, alcohol must be involved. i also dislike the self-perception of Irish people that we must be emotionally void.
perceived as racist for any off-hand comment that is not actually a prejudice many whites are actually prejudiced against African Americans
there isn’t anything…i like being white
Things I Don’t Like About Being Black/African American
the stereotypes that are associated with my race. I dont like to be looked down upon because of the way some members of my race out in public.
I feel awkward whenever I am in a setting of predominantly white people. I don’t enjoy the fact that sometimes I feel to be inferior because of what others think of say. I don’t enjoy stereotypes, racism.
Idea of being ‘black enough’ Trying to keep each other down when we see our race doing well. Mediocre mentality.
I’m ignorant until proven smart. i’m instantly judged as an athlete. Expected to stay in black groups and act “black”
i don’t like people assuming i’m at vanderbilt because i play a sport
there really is not anything that i dislike about it. i have always loved myself the way i am.
i feel like i’m held on a lower level than whites sometimes it is harder to make friends with whites and at times i really do!!
Things I Don’t Like About Bring Inter-racial/Multi-racial
People assume that I am confused and I do not know what I like?
I feel like some people are stereotyped more than me because they are completely Middle Eastern I feel badly that since one of my parents is European, I am treated like a complete “white” person. People overlook my other ethnic identity.
black people judge me for not being black enough/don’t consider me black (I’m mixed)
Things I Don’t Like about Being Asian/Asian-American
People think that I’m intelligent. When I don’t know something that I’m “supposed to know”, I feel especially dumb.
I feel like a lot of people, especially Whites, don’t acknowledge my presence in conversations.
My parents are over protective.
I hate Science!
Others’ assumptions about me being quiet, studious, shy, goodie goodie (although those qualities can be true)
Assumption that we’re all smart (good at math/science), will go on to be doctors, amazing artists and musicians
stereotypes such as people saying I’m a bad driver before I start the car. expectations that I will do extremely well in school/the pressure that comes along with it.
People assume that I am good at math and science.
Not too outgoing
prejudices that I should be better at maths and sciences than other racial groups
Things I Don’t Like About Being Hispanic/Latino
I don’t like when people stereotype that I am not intelligent, or that I have just crossed the border. I don’t like being categorized wrong in certain State (i.e., in TExas I’m Mexican, not Hispanic)
Things I Like About Whites
their commitment and dedication to their beliefs.
The white people I have met are accepting of other racial groups and don’t alienate me because of my race
no racism in the US
They’re funny and relaxed
I enjoy my (white) mother.
How they’re not conscious of their skin color.
Whites are able to join any group they want without being stereotyped. Whites have a greater advantage to social mobility.
The white people that i hang out with are very open and accepting of different cultures.
appear to be at the top of social hierarchy
Have the most apparent access to resources (including social activities)
i like that whites can shop comfortably at Green Hills Mall.
when we are friends and we both find out how cool each other are
Things I Like About African-Americans/Blacks
african-americans they are very funny and tend to be very good dnacers and singers they also are very religious which i think is good.
Blacks…. They seem to be more united than whites They (for the most part) seem self-confident and secure in themselves
Things I like about black people are how good of athletes they are and how they are able to put stereotypes and often difficult living situations aside and have success in school and in sports.
I have no problem with any other racial group. I would say I have a good number of friends that are African American and they are good guys and girls.
I like the history and traditions and customs
vibrant nature soulful music
There is a different and diverse culture involved
A different perspective
Their heightened sense of companionship with those they care about.
jovial nature and competitive spirit in team sports.
diversity they bring history of culture i have African American friends who I love
I like that this is hard for me because the things I like about white people are the same things I like about African Americans
besides their beautiful skin is their…(response ends)
their home cooking! (their food seems delicious)
they are very funny people. i like how great they can dance and how religion is so important to them (most are christian). they are also very talented in sports music dance.
seem to be more self-confident not worried about being very thin
Things I Like About Asians/Asian-Americans
They are generous
I like how driven they are (for the most part) I like how culturally-oriented they are. They respect their elders. They are respectful in general
They are welcoming and inviting on the surface.
Their work ethic
Their thrifty nature
They achieve a high status in society opposed to whites who often have a high ascribed social status
their respect and appreciation of the elderly
Things I Like About Hispanics/Latinos
The sense of togetherness they feel as a family and as a group.
rich heritage close families unified language to connect the race
Things I Don’t Like About Whites
their assumptions that the majority of black people must depend upon government subsidies or interventions in order to attain certain things in life.
White people tend to form closed groups excluding minorities.
SOME white people tend to group Asians all into one category and ignore the different cultures
Whites are prone to stereotype and they don’t have to work as hard to get recognition in society.
Feel I’m needy
Want me to perform for them.
Have little understanding about other groups.
I don’t enjoy the fact that there are still many confederate and racist beliefs. I don’t like being judged before someone knows me because of skin color. I don’t appreciate being called a different or minority group. I just want to be called “people.”
I don’t like a white person’s ability to choose when they want to appreciate African American contributions i.e. black history month or black music month (June).
some are very defensive about race
stereotypically are very materialistic.
when i can sense that they think i’m weird or don’t want to get close to me because i’m black
When they try to talk or move a certain way to imitate “blackness” Make your difference in color known.
Things I Don’t Like About Blacks/African-Americans
A lot of the time my African-American friends will think of me as their “little white mascot”
in my experiences they can be very uneducated and ignorant and have a lack of respect for authority and our country.
how they play into their steretype when they constantly play the “race card.”
how they separate themselves
I do not like how African Americans can receive benefits due to affirmative action.
i feel uncomfortable walking through an all-black neighborhood.
in my experiences with less educated African Americans they tend to be VERY ignorant and rude they also lack respect for our country and government. they also have no sense of authority.
self-segregation even if I go out of my way to meet one heshe makes it difficult.
The companionship I like sometimes feels like something I can’t be a part of.
they tend to assume that whites are out to get them form factions
Things I don’t like about blacks are how a lot of them do drugs. I also don’t the derogatory ways in which they communicate.
They are very intimidating when in groups.
They (some not all) are often prejudiced against whites
They act as if I do not (and could not) understand their culture
Things I Don’t Like about Asian-Americans/Asians
They sometimes talk in their native language in front of others who cannot understand them. Also they sometimes don’t have the best daily hygiene.
how they are often assumed to be smarter and more qualified just because they are Asian
less outgoing and talkative than most racial groups -quite and reserved -overly hard standards for children to live up to
Older generations expect a lot from their offspring. (almost too much)
Things I Don’t Like about Hispanics/Latinos
how they exclude other races without even recognizing it because it is such a tight group.
Very clicky–Close themselves off from other cultural groups.
When they intentionally speak spanish in front of me as a way to mask their conversation.
They automatically assume that because I’m white I don’t speak spanish.
Things I like about being white:
I like being in the majority. (22)
That I won’t be discriminated against. (16)
Not being perceived as a threat when I travel in a group.
That I can get help when I need it. (3)
I like growing up with kids that look and act like me. (3)
I like white people’s music.
I like being able to shower and wash my hair daily. I like my hair/eyes/body and being able to find beauty products. (12)
I enjoy being the race that defines what is beautiful in American culture. (3)
I like the fashion that is associated with whites.
I like not having to worry about not being accepted to groups, jobs, etc. (7)
I like that most store clerks, etc. treat me with respect. (14)
Being welcome in stores/not being assumed to be a criminal. (12)
That my parents taught me proper grammar. (2)
My Italian father taught me how to cook.
I like that I don’t have to pretend to be white acting.
I like being represented in the government.
That I have a future in politics.
I like that I have high chances of getting into better schools/getting a better job. (6)
That the elderly are friendly to me.
I can get a tan. (3)
I like that I am not stereotyped as being lazy. (2)
That I am stereotyped as being smart/responsible. (7)
I don’t feel like I have expectations to uphold.
That advertising is targeted for people like me. (3)
Mainstream clothes (e.g., the Gap) fit me.
I like that the characters on TV (in books, movies) look like me (e.g., Laguna Beach, the O.C.). (7)
That as a girl, my Barbie dolls looked like me. (3)
I like that my parents could buy a house when they wanted to.
I go straight through airport security. No random searches. (3)
Being able to join an exclusive club. (2)
That people assume I can afford things.
That I don’t have ashy skin and need to moisturize very often.
Things I don’t like about being white:
I don’t like that most black store clerks etc. do not treat me with as much respect (as white clerks). (2)
I don’t like the perception that I am prejudiced/racist. (32)
I don’t like feeling that I am somehow racist or close-minded for not socializing with blacks or Asians as much as I socialize with whites.
Not being as comfortable around a bunch of minorities because I was raised with all whites. (2)
That I don’t feel safe in urban areas/minority neighborhoods. (2)
I have to pay for the mistakes people made in the past when my ancestors weren’t even in America. (6)
I feel embarrassed when I have to answer a race question—I don’t like that. That I can’t say my opinions about race without being embarrassed or made to feel guilty. That I have to be overly nice to minorities to prove I’m not racist. (11)
I don’t like that I can’t “dance” like other races. (6)
That I can’t hang out with lots of minorities. (3)
That I stick out in other parts of the world, while traveling, even in places like France.
I don’t like our music.
I don’t like our food.
I don’t like freckles.
Blacks assume I don’t understand rap music and can’t like it. Getting ridiculed for liking rap. Having to turn down my subwoofers and “gangster” rap when driving through a predominantly African-American neighborhood. (4)
I dislike being made fun of by minorities. (3)
I don’t like when black men say derogatory things to me.
That I’m assumed to be ignorant on issues related to black sufferings in historical context. (3)
That there is no special box for me to check on surveys for my ethnic group.
Affirmative action gives whites an unfair advantage.
That I don’t benefit from Affirmative Action/scholarships. (12)
That minorities get into university with lower test scores. (2)
That I can’t get a tan.
That people assume I’m rich. (13)
That black people avoid or ignore me. (3)
Getting preferential treatment.
White man can’t jump. Bad athletes. (3)
My coach giving my playing time to Black teammates because he’s afraid of being labeled a racist if he puts me in instead.
Not viewed as street smart, although there may be truth to that.
I don’t like that I don’t really understand what it’s really like to be discriminated against. (2)
That I have a harder time learning Chinese and other languages because I haven’t been taught to hear the same sounds.
Viewed as a target for crime.
My pale skin looks sickly when not tan.
Only living around other white people.
The “Barbie doll” image of white girls.
Most liberals come from my race and they are crazy.
Things I like about Whites:
Interested in other peoples’ culture.
Punk rock music.
They are entertaining on reality TV shows.
Chicken pot pie.
More reserved and conservative than blacks, making it easier to talk about some subjects/issues with them.
Admirable drive for success and power. Teach children how to succeed. (2)
Understand the value of a dollar.
Chipper at all times.
Things I don’t like about Whites:
When whites call blacks racists.
Over-representation in government.
Over-representation in upper classes.
They think my race is a touchy topic.
Getting strange looks in white neighborhoods.
Getting asked if I speak English when I obviously do.
Kind of boring.
Use slang terms around me.
Food is bland.
White men can’t jump.
Loyalty to other whites often comes at the expense of minorities.
Whites might be helpful in my own dreams of success.
Guys who wear tight shirts with no muscles.
Guys who don’t appreciate the “essence of a nice butt.”
Things I like about being Asian:
Skin color. (2)
Stereotyped as being smart. (3)
I like being good at math/computers/science. (2)
I like having low crime rates.
Being able to participate in two distinct cultures. (2)
That I can speak two languages, that I have two passports.
I can go anywhere in the U.S. and have a “connection” from friends or family—they will give me a room and a meal.
Big family. Family values. (2)
Good food. (2)
Not as discriminated against as other minority groups.
Things I don’t like about being Asian:
Stereotypes and racism against us.
Having higher expectations. (3)
Not very many Asians on TV/in movies.
Being a bad driver.
Not being able to speak English properly.
Playing the violin.
Not getting Affirmative Action, even though we are a minority.
Salespeople talk to my mother slowly because she has an accent.
Being assumed to be a genius at math. (3)
How all Asians are seen as being Chinese. (2)
Being in the minority.
Hate crimes against us.
Things I like about Asians:
They are very smart. (2)
They are all beautiful.
They have a good sense of style. (2)
I like their food. (3)
I like their culture.
I like their media.
I like their female characteristics.
I like their skin color.
They prioritize education.
They are brilliant engineers and scientists. They are good at math. (2)
They are welcoming and hospitable.
That they don’t leech off of society.
They are musically gifted.
Things I don’t like about Asian-Americans:
They talk really fast in the nail salons with each other and I think they’re talking about me. They talk in other languages around me so that I can’t understand them. (2)
Their ethnocentric views.
I dislike the exclusion they take comfort in.
I dislike their food.
I dislike the fact that most of them have brown eyes.
They make it harder to be at the top of the class because they’re so smart. They ruin “the curve.” (2)
They used to find their feet—I don’t like torture.
That they’re pushy and have bad boundaries.
That they’re politically apathetic.
That they’re terrible drivers.
That they give preferential treatment to sons.
They don’t like to talk to black people.
Things I like about being Hispanic:
I like being stereotyped as a good athlete and dancers.
I like the music.
I like that families are close.
Things I don’t like about being Hispanic:
People group me with Hispanics, saying all Hispanics are Mexican.
I don’t like being perceived as a refugee.
I don’t like when people think I need extra advantages just to get through.
Things I like about Hispanics:
Most are very hospitable and friendly. (2)
I love Mexico.
Most are hard workers. (2)
I love the food.
Family values. (3)
They have a vibrant culture. (2)
I love their native language [sic].
The girls wear very colorful clothes.
The boys are extremely polite to women.
They face prejudice daily and still strive for social mobility.
Their tan complexion.
Provide cheap labor.
Play the role of underlings well in movies.
Can pass as Indian.
Have great rhythm and can salsa dance.
Things I don’t like about Hispanics:
A lot of crime associated with this group from where I am from.
Styles (music, cars, dress). Drive tacky Cadillacs. (2)
They group together and disclude [sic] Caucasian people.
The racist things some say.
They (sometimes) won’t try to learn English. (2)
Grouped with other Hispanic males they whistle and harass girls. (3)
I don’t like how nasty the women are to me because their boyfriends look at me.
Think whites assume we’re superior.
Snobs about being good dancers and “hot.”
Things I like about Native Americans:
Rich, although tragic history. (2)
Peace-loving, and connected to nature. Religious interpretation of the Great Spirit. (3)
Strong sense of family and community. (4)
Things I don’t like about Native Americans:
Exclusionary based on tribal membership/recognition. (2)
Blame all whites for mistakes of European ancestors.
High suicide rate.
Problems adjusting to mainstream culture, such as alcohol abuse. (2)
Feel superior to other people.
Things I like about being African American:
Understanding the progress of our race. (2)
The general admiration of our culture. (3)
I can get a job as a teacher anywhere.
That I can have my own style.
Sense of community.
I am assumed to be a good athlete. (2)
Influence in American culture. (2)
It is OK to embrace rap and hip hop culture.
We have Eminem.
No sun burns.
I don’t have to wash my hair every day and I can wear it in different styles that last long.
I am less likely to develop an eating disorder, have severe cases of depression, or any kind of mental illness.
Being blessed in the department down stairs.
I don’t have to leave my name anonymous because I’m scared of what others may think.
I love the fact that because of my skin color I’m already at a disadvantage. Because when I succeed, it makes it that much sweeter.
I’m very smooth…almost like a Cadillac.
Things I don’t like about being African American:
We are stereotyped as thugs/criminals. (7)
Stereotypes that I feel I should live up to. (2)
Stereotyped as a dancer, singer and basketball player.
People assume I’m an athlete.
Patronizing attitudes in stores.
We are discriminated against by our choice of names and hairstyles.
Many blacks are still poor.
People assume the reason I got into college was Affirmative Action.
When I am driving it is almost guaranteed that I will get pulled over. I risk being beat up by the police if I’m pulled over. (3)
I love black folks, but I hate Niggers.
White people have a perception of what being “black” is, and if I don’t fit into this perception then I’m not really black, according to them.
The fact that the majority of white girls (at least here at Vandy) will give you looks, but if they are around other white friends then they won’t give you the time of day. But if you catch them by themselves…amazing they are interested.
That I get weird looks if I’m with a girl of a different race…don’t hate the playa, hate the game.
We don’t have Oprah.
Things I like about African Americans:
Very talkative and are always outgoing and friendly. (7)
Laid-back attitude/fun. (5)
Their ability to speak their mind/self confidence. (10)
Of all service sector employees, they are the nicest.
Their sense of “we”—brotherhood. The way they are “sistahs” and “homies.” Sense of community. (15)
Good music/musicians. (15)
Can dance well. (10)
I like the parties they throw.
Athletic performance. (9)
Their sense of humor.
Cool hairstyles. (2)
Acceptance of ghetto booties/bodies. (4)
Good food. (3)
I like little black children—they are cute to watch.
Informed about their culture (e.g. black history, step-dancing. Racial pride. (7)
They understand prejudice. (2)
They are not prejudiced. (2)
Blacks are more conservative minded on the homosexuality topic and are able to act masculine and aren’t put down by there [sic] peers like whites are.
Blacks can fight each other and not have a lawsuit against them like if I were to fight another white guy.
Willing to help others.
Manage to succeed despite obstacles.
Things I don’t like about African Americans:
I don’t like that they stare at me when I walk past the bus stop.
That they form cliques and don’t let others in. (4)
They can say things like “nigger” to each other but I can’t.
That they blame race for many things. They feel they are constantly oppressed. Hung up on slavery. (17)
The whole reparations idea…I never owned a slave or lynched one, I don’t think anyone owes anyone anything.
Sense of entitlement.
I don’t like that they are racist themselves—categorizing other groups and making points about them while they are not blamed for racism. (4)
How they like the ghetto booty.
Openness in hitting on me. (3)
That they think I don’t understand them.
Make me feel socially inept.
That they assume I’m racist. (4)
“Thug” mentality (oversized white shirts and baggy pants). (4)
Dangerous. Bother me on the street. Propensity for crime. Dependence on violence. (7)
When they make fun of me because I am white.
The way they look at me.
When they fall into stereotypes. (7)
Are loud in public places. (5)
Offensive lyrics in their music: rap/hip hop i.e. banging bitches and hoes.
Treatment of women. (2)
Talk ethnically. Black slang/ebonics. (4)
Slur their words.
I don’t like how they are more athletic than us.
Notorious for Asian fetish.
That Affirmative Action allows them jobs that more qualified people should have. (3)
Get more credit for the same job as whites.
Disrespectful of others.
Spend money on bling.