What do we perceive as being white? What causes people to use term "white" as an adjective when describing individuals of another race? We've all heard it before, "He's the whitest black guy I've ever met!" For the most part, we think lightly of these types of remarks and often times humorous when used in comedic situations. In fact, movies are notorious for poking fun at this issue. But why? What are these "white" qualities that we project on other races?
Stereotyping and generalizations are part of produce this sort of commentary. By expecting that all races act the opposite of white people, we create cultural rules in which everyone should abide by. If we accept the fact that people's representation of themselves is directly correlated with their upbringing and not a cultural "standard", then perhaps we would be able to diminish this sort of commentary.
Not too long ago, I found myself in a situation relating to this issue. Upon moving into our new apartment, my boyfriend and I shortly began to realize that we could hear our neighbor's conversations through our shared walls. Immediately we both agreed that our neighbor sounded like the character "Newman" from the television sitcom Seinfeld. Well, naturally if he sounds like this fictional character, surely he must look like him too, right? Two months later, we found ourselves face to face with our chatty neighbor and low and behold, the man who stood in front of us hardly resembled the "Newman" character. In fact, he wasn't even white, but a friendly George Clinton type, with an affinity for World of Warcraft.
Slap the cuffs upon our wrists for we were guilty by our own assumptions! This is just one of many examples in which we judge and assume, most of the time not intentionally, due to widespread stereotypes, generalizations and cultural behavior norms. How many times have we found ourselves in this type of situation? Normally our commentary is not meant to be offensive, but we must refrain from such judgment for it may be found highly offensive by in the individual on the other side of fence.