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How White Are You?


It’s hard not to be bouncing off the ceiling for the chance to make fun of Charles Murray’s new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. I really need a comedy fix right now and this could be the funniest book of the year. The only problem with Murray is that he’s really hard to parody since he’s routinely kicking parody’s decaying corpse. Example one is this excerpt from Murray’s book, where he provides what is essentially a whiteness quiz. This is great stuff:

12. Choose one. Who is Jimmie Johnson? Or: Have you ever purchased Avon products?
13. Have you or your spouse ever bought a pickup truck?
14. During the last year, have you ever purchased domestic mass-market beer to stock your own fridge?
15. During the last five years, have you or your spouse gone fishing?
16. How many times in the last year have you eaten at one of the following restaurant chains? Applebee’s, Waffle House, Denny’s,IHOP, Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, Ruby Tuesday, T.G.I. Fri-day’s, Ponderosa Steakhouse.

Of course, Murray is conflating whiteness with heteronormativity and political conservatism. The writers of this blog certainly aren’t real whites, except maybe for Farley since he probably does eat at Chili’s. A non-fishing professor who thinks NASCAR is dumb and drives a small car is the wrong kind of white and therefore doesn’t count. After all, I’d probably let my daughter have sex with a black man and we know Murray’s uncomfortable with that. This is almost on a play on the Stuff White People Like blog that was big a couple of years ago. In both, there are lots of white people but only certainly kinds of whites count. Whereas for that blog, the writer was making gentle fun of a certain kind of white person, Murray actually takes this seriously.

This book is going to be a rich text.

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