According to the hit counter at the very bottom of this page, this blog's readership is growing. Especially in the last couple of days. Recently the counter has been showing about five hundred page views per day, but that jumped to a couple of thousand in the past day or so.
A look through the counter's statistics reveals that the jump was mostly caused by the positive mention of this site by a reader in a discussion thread at another, very popular site, Jezebel, a fun and useful site that covers “Celebrity, Sex, [and] Fashion. Without Airbrushing.” I think it was a reader there named Sarah MC who first mentioned my blog (thanks, Sarah!), and then kept praising it throughout the 500-comment-long thread. Other readers then reported coming here to Stuff White People Do, or having seen it, and from what I could tell, black readers said they like it, and white readers mostly said, "Uh, thanks but no thanks."
I've been wondering who my readers are, and from the comments and emails I get, it looks like most of the regular and enthusiastic ones are not white people. Which is great, I welcome all readers, of course. But I also wonder--if the vast majority of Internet users in America are white, why is it that the majority of the enthusiastic readers of a blog on whiteness are not white?
I think it’s because white people will occasionally discuss non-white people, especially among themselves, but they’re not used to talking or thinking about whiteness. And when they are asked to think or talk about it seriously, doing so makes them feel attacked, guilty, confused, or angry. And so they turn away—“Thanks, but no thanks.”
Several readers at Jezebel confused this blog with Stuff White People Like, and that’s my fault for choosing such a similar name. I initially meant to refer to that blog with this one in a sort of corrective way, because that one trivializes serious racial problems—a lot of white people read it, but I doubt they’re being led by it to think about whiteness in more productive ways.
One Jezebel reader, apparently white, wrote in that comment thread about my blog, "I appreciate the point of this blog but find it's [sic] tone a tad 'White people should hate themselves just for being white' for my taste."
Comments like that remind me of a reader who used to comment here a lot, a white man who blogs under the name of Sagacious Hillbilly. I had a lot of respect for SH (as I called him), because although this blog made him uncomfortable, he kept coming back—for awhile, at least. He also said he's had extensive, long-term relationships with black and Indian friends, and it sounds like he’s done some racial justice work. If his blog is any indication, he also supports Barack Obama, though not necessarily because he’s black.
Sagacious Hillbilly also put me on his blog roll. However, instead of listing this blog with its correct title, he wrote, “Silly Whitey.”
At one point, when I put together one of my more abstract posts about the whole concept itself of whiteness, and about its ultimate emptiness AS a concept, SH announced in the comments that he’d had enough:
When you started this blog, you addressed some real issues. [They] were blatant and obvious. Sadly, you have become reduced to simply taking low level pot shots at stereotypes and other ridiculous exagerations.
Your self hared has really become absurd.
I'm done with this racist display of self loathing.
Wallow in it with your pitiful and equally self hating pseudo intellectual friends.
I haven’t heard from SH since. My blog is still on his blog roll, though he’s added some words to it—“Silly Whitey—a study in self loathing and hatred.”
I think SH's response to this blog is a pretty common one from white folks who encounter it. I’m glad that a lot of people of color and some white people are reading Stuff White People Do regularly, and I appreciate the positive interaction.
I’m left to wonder, though, what is it about my blog that provokes such common white responses? Should I make it more obvious that I don’t hate myself and other white people, and that I’m instead talking about whiteness, and how people are trained to be white, and how that causes all sorts of problems for both white and non-white people?
The problem I’m seeing isn’t surprising, since white people don’t like to talk about race, especially out in the open, and they especially don’t like to talk about whiteness, whether out in the open or in private. But I’m wondering, is it worthwhile to search for ways to attract more white folks? If so, what would it take to do that?