Things I Like

This is a yearly tradition over here at WITW.  The students in my Intro Soc class complete a survey and I post the results.  They respond to these four prompts:

1. Things I Like About Being (in my ethno-racial group):

2. Things I Don’t Like About Being (in my ethno-racial group):

3. Things I Like About (a group I am not a member of):

4. Things I Don’t Like About (the group I picked for no. 3):

I ask multi-racial students to choose one part of their identity for the exercise.  I ask all non-white students to write about whites in no.s 3 & 4.

*Slightly updated at 1:40 CST, March 26, 2009

I then have compiled their answers (in this case, we have two sections of the class, about 80 students…maybe 50 of whom completed the exercise) and post them, below.  Of course, I then recode the answers into categories, retaining as much interesting language as I can.  The students are asked to respond to a series of discussion questions after looking over the class responses and discussing them in groups.

As I said, I have a few years of these things (probably 7 classes, over four years).  I’m happy to share the longer list with interested folks, and the discussion guide also.  Just email me.
Without further ado: The Vanderbilt Classes of 09-12:

Things I Like About Being White
I can use businesses/services without being questioned or followed (4)
People don’t have their “guard up” around me
Opportunities are open to me. (5)
No fear of discrimination/Race is not a “burden” (jobs, dating, politics) (16)
Feeling comfortable performing upper/upper-middle class—growing up surrounded by wealth (2)
Fitting in since most people are white/Being in the majority/Not being in the minority (10)
I like not having a group chosen for me in the other 2 questions of this exercise
I don’t have to worry about my actions being representative of an entire race
Easy to buy band-aids, first aid tape and makeup that matches my skin (3)
Most radio and TV programs are geared toward me.
I like that I have the freedom to advance to the best of my abilities without the hindrance of predisposed notions.
I like the freedom that comes with being white, you don’t have to think about whether or not to do something because people may not accurately perceive it.
Watching my skin go from pale to brown/tan in the summer.
Being able to relate to most books I read, movies I watch , and media I view.
Easy to find a community that accepts me for my race.
My culture (clothes I wear, food I eat, etc.) is depicted in commercials, advertisements, and more so it is very easy to find what I need.
I think it is easier to have multicultural friends
Feeling safe in my neighborhood
My access to hobbies and activities that may be restricted to the African American Population
My ancestors came over in the 1640’s and helped found the country
I am not labeled simply as white, but I can include the countries my ancestors are from
Not having to worry about using lotion all the time
Seen as model type of person
Things I Don’t Like About Being White
The body type required to be seen as “attractive” (2)
Expected to be smart/rich/successful, to perform well academically.
How the media portrays American whites throughout the world.
The epic amount of sunscreen I must wear (2)
That my connection to ethnicity is “symbolic” (5)
My identity as “Cajun” isn’t recognized by the government, although it is important, to me—I am mistaken as white.
People playing up the “white card” for me
I am not afforded advantages based on race/diversity initiatives (esp. Affirmative Action) (2)
Assumptions about my political opinions or [unclear]
Fearing that I will be labeled as racist (3)
Bring misperceived as racist (12)
White guilt (6)
My ancestors’ attitude and older family members still living concerning other races (I am embarrassed by their racism).
When my white friends express prejudice I am afraid to contradict them for fear of humiliation
Make fun of other races too much
Our inability to accept and relate to other minorities in a way that would promote relationships between us
People assuming my life is easy and that I am never a target of racism (4)
I don’t like having people be prejudiced towards me or discriminate because I am “the majority.”
Being uncomfortable when I am the only white person in a group
That I am ordinary/un-unique
Being treated as the “stereotypical white person”/”expectation I can’t understand minority problems” (3)
I grew up sheltered
I may be judged as a poser or “wigger” for how I dress, or the music I like
That I will be judged for having a half-black girlfriend
Inability to dance (2)
I think darker skin tomes are more attractive
I don’t like stereotyped as the slow unathletic white kid when it comes to athletics.
Seen as dominant, unfriendly, controlling
Things I Like About Whites
They seem more liberal and open-minded than my own group
I’m a little jealous of their traditional American childhood
Being able to have longer hair, grow faster
Often polite and formal
Don’t have to worry about being sexualized by white males
Often have better jobs
Generally kind and helpful toward others.
Nothing comes to mind about what I like about Whites

Things I Don’t Like About Whites
How society and the power structure supported by some whites limits opportunities for my group.
For people I don’t know, being white is a “boy’s club”: you have to prove yourself to them—that you are white on the inside.
Can be hard to befriend
White guys starting at my butt or breasts because they are larger than the average white female’s
Often have no idea of the stereotyping going on around them
They feel privileged
That they feel uncomfortable, superior, or different because they are white
Very crass about race
Often grew up with no encounters with race
Almost all of them think of me as foreign. Many automatically assume I’m “not American”.
They form judgments and stereotypes quickly, and against people who are different, don’t like change.

Things I Things I Like About Being African-American
The rich cultural background
Knowledge I can survive through tough times
Exceeding people’s expectations
Dissolving stereotypes people have about me
I can usually find someone in any group to identify with (as opposed to other minority groups)
I can understand and empathize with other minorities
Open-minded and accepting

Things I Don’t Like About Being African-American
My hair curls and draws up when it’s wet, so I have to make sure it is greased for it to be manageable for my lifestyle, and get a perm or flat iron it.
That people think I am inadequate
Bring alienated or seen as different because of my race

Things I Like About African-Americans
Empowered independence among women (2)
Seem confident and comfortable with themselves (5)
The stereotype of being good at sports
Usually tolerant of other people (2)
Their strength in the face of adversity
Cohesive community in the face of adversity (5)
Ethnic pride (4)
Appreciation of their hip hop music/music/ Rap is my favorite type of music even though there are very few white rappers.  (5)
Culture—music and food (6)
“Auntie” attitudes, like when a cashier says, “What do you want to eat, honey?”
Many of them work against the negative stereotypes that exist about their culture.
African American tend to have deeper and more energetic ties to one another.
They seem to have an aptitude to have fun and enjoy parts of life we don’t.
They five and take more from their friendships.

Things I Don’t Like About African-Americans

When empowered, independent women become “obnoxious”
Assuming racism when conflict occurs
Using racism as an excuse
Not dropping the issue/Everything comes back to race (2)
Their discomfort when they are excluded from organizations that are traditionally white
When people talk in “Ebonics” even if they are educated
The slang
I do not like how they insist on being called African-Americans instead of Black.
I don’t like how self-righteous they are about their own struggles.
That they confirm their own negative stereotypes/ I feel as though sometimes they perpetuate their own stereotypes and get upset with whites who naively do the same (e.g. derogating rap music), I feel as though it is somewhat hypocritical. (3)
Glorification of gangsta lifestyle
I am fearful of 30 year old black men wearing hoodies on the edges of campus
They intimidate me – the men do, some girls.
I feel unsafe walking around in the “ghetto”, which is mostly African American in the city where I’m from.
Sketchy situations
Sometimes I feel like they try to be intimidating
I would never feel accepted within their group because I stand out so much we could be friends, but it would be difficult to participate in cultural practices with them.
They many times have a preconceived notion of how whites will behave and how we don’t have compatible personalities. It is expected we won’t become close as two blacks have become close.
Inclusiveness—often feels like they wish to segregate themselves on campus
Feeling like I am judged around them
Being discriminated against because they think I am better off (financially)
I think Affirmative Action and racial quotas are ridiculous and counter-productive.
Assumptions that I don’t like typically black culture (rap music)
I don’t like the absence of so many fathers in households with their children.

Things I Like About Being Asian-American

People assume I’m smart, motivated, and will get a good job
I never feel like an outsider in science/math classes
I experience two cultures daily, sometimes side by side
I am unique among my friends, which allows me to expose them to my culture. (2)
I can identify with 2 different cultures
I am proud of the hardships and accomplishments my mother and grandparents have gone through as immigrants

Things I Don’t Like About Being Asian-American
I am expected to excel academically. Getting an “average score” on a test is what some call “Asian failing” a test.
I will always be “foreign” in every other racial group’s eyes, even though I was born and raised in the US.
Feeling like I am not as smart as other Asians
People making fun of Asians in front of me, unaware that it hurts me: looks, language
Knowing my ancestors suffered in China
Affirmative works against me (more so than against whites) when applying to elite universities
Language barrier with my parents
We always have the same expectations to meet, esp. academics. People think we’re all the same, but they don’t see our differences.
Other “brown people” assume I’m going to be best friends with them because I’m also brown.  In reality, I’m more white than brown.

Things I Like About Asian-Americans
Their food (7)
The ability to overcome minority status and be successful
Close-knit community and helpfulness to one another
Celebrations are more elaborate and focused more on family and tradition
They are respectful to authority
Their hair
They make me feel OK about being a “nerd”
Probably the least racist people I know. They like everyone and like to joke about themselves and others.

Things I Don’t Like About Asian-Americans
How intelligent they are/Thinking that they’re smarter (2)
Their work ethic/They have such a drive to succeed that it can make relationships difficult (4)
Their ability to overcome minority status and be more successful than I am
Their over-representation in my community, but lack of integration into it (4)
That they view Asians who “integrate” negatively
When they speak in languages I can’t understand, while I’m around; use of native language to “talk down about people” when they know we can’t understand (2)
That they have designated parts of town (e.g., “Korea-town,” “Chinatown”) and I don’t have a part of town
I get blamed for not being able to tell what part of Asia they are from and am, therefore, resistant to ask.
Awful drivers. They’re always late and procrastinate.
More blunt/less polite.
Seem lost in our culture sometimes
I dislike the attitude presented by some Asian Americans that idolizes western culture. I adore Asian culture, but I don’t idolize it.
I don’t like how Asians seem so oblivious to American society. Sometimes Asians stray from the expected normal way to act in society, and do not take into consideration common courtesy when acting. They seem very slow to catch onto American culture, and this may be due to Asian culture being so different than ours.
All hair types are the same

Things I Like About Being Latino
Active and large community/culture
Often seen as exotic—seen as “Latina”
Helped me to get into college
Great food and history

Things I Don’t Like About Being Latino
Being discriminated or ridiculed because I don’t speak Spanish or dance.
Classified by my family as “too white and stiff/proper”
Women are treated badly (machismo)
A lot of social-domestic problems
Sexualized by Hispanic men

Things I Like About Latinos
Pride in their culture
Latinos have a strong community and bond together. Also they have amazing food.

Things I Don’t Like About Latinos

The expectation that women are sexual and men are tough
Negative stereotypes

Things I Like About people of Middle Eastern Descent
Sense of community
Strong cultural identity

Things I Don’t Like About people of Middle Eastern Descent
Closed views about integration and acceptance of outsiders

Things I Like About Native Americans
Strong cultural ties

Things I Don’t Like About Native Americans
Socio-economic disadvantage
Stereotype of being alcoholics


1 Comment

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One response to “Things I Like

  1. I think this is an interesting exercise — I’d be interested (as a fellow sometimes teacher of race classes) in how you use it. What kind of discussion do you have about these things, etc. and how does it go over with the students?

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