How to talk to white girls with a vague and condescending appreciation for your culture at parties: a primer
By sachin m.
So here you are: hopelessly strolling through some party that you knew was going to be disappointing, but decided to attend anyway. Drunk people are chatting, basic girls are dancing, and frat boys are fratting. And there you are, all alone, red cup in hand.
No man is an island, unless that island is an ethnic undergraduate at a college party.
But then, she walks up to you. She’s friendly – really friendly. She asks you a lot of questions. She wants to learn more about you. At this point you might even be thinking: Hey, she’s kind of cute. This is going really well!
Oh, you naive little ethnic loner. How wrong you are. Because at that exact moment:
“Where are you from?”
“Oh, I came here from Boston, but I actually went to most of high school in Richmond and—“
“No, like, where are you from?”
She has revealed herself. She is the White Girl With A Vague and Condescending Appreciation for Your Culture At Parties. She detected your melanin from across the room, and now she’s honed in on you like a Hellfire missile on a Yemeni village, you poor fucking thing.
But you have nowhere to go. You can’t find your friends, so it’s either keep standing around or let this girl Heart-of-Darkness the shit out of you for the next 15 minutes. Luckily, other ethnic fellows have been in this position before, and so here’s what you need to know:
1. Nothing you say, do, or want matters.
It should be stated that if you identify as a straight male and the White Girl With A Vague and Condescending Appreciation for Your Culture is a straight female, it may be one of the strangest heteronormative encounters in one’s lifetime. Like a browner version of Can’t Hardly Wait.
And So, what do you hope is the result of this interaction? Do you want to be friends with her? Something more? Or do you just need someone to talk to for the next 15 minutes as your friend clumsily tries to hit on his lab partner from his Intro to Psych class? If you’re considering either one of the first two, that is too fucking bad. Because unless you look like Zayn Malik, you are shit out of luck. This girl has no kind of deep interpersonal interest in you. To her you are nothing but an rare and exotic Silly Putty for her to toy with for the next few minutes.
2. Tell her she wants to hear.
If that one white kid in your race theory class, or literally every political science major in the American university system weren’t enough evidence, white people LOVE being told that they’re right about minority issues. So when the White Girl With A Vague & Condescending Appreciation For Your Culture says “Yeah, I’ve been to the slums in Mumbai, and they’re totally ____________,” or declares how much she just loves Indian food but ever since she got back from her humanitarian aid trip to India can’t find good Indian food ANYWHERE—even when you thought that one restaurant she mentioned was actually pretty good—just nod along. As a friend once told me, the White Man’s Burden may just be that they talk too damn much. Tell her what she wants to hear, and you’ll get through this convo quick enough to hit the late night special at that Indian restaurant she hates so much.
3. Play up the ethnic drama.
Whenever people like the WGAVCAFYCAP see about People of Color, they like to think about struggle. A key to maneuvering this conversation is by making your comfortable upbringing in suburban Atlanta sound like an episode of Homeland meets Boyhood. Look, it doesn’t matter that your parents met when they were graduate students at Rutgers. In this moment, as far she’s concerned, your mother gave birth to you as her and your father were sprinting across a Kashmiri minefield to catch the last driftwood raft sailing to America And as a brown/yellow/black/etc. boy growing up in white America, everything was really hard. Like, super difficult, until you came to college and met open-minded girls like her.
4. Your favorite sport is soccer.
It doesn’t matter that all the other kids on your high school soccer team called you Helen Keller because you were so wholly uncoordinated, and that the only reason you made the JV team was so that you wouldn’t be the only upperclassman still playing on the fresh-soph squad. As far as conversation goes, soccer is your favorite sport. Call it fútbol (with accent) for even greater effect. Cricket can be a close second. If you have no fucking clue what cricket is, or just think it’s boring and nonsensical, say that your dad wouldn’t let you buy a cricket bat because it reminded him too much of the civil war in his home country and she will be too moved by emotion to ask any follow-ups. Crisis diverted.
5. Trinkets!! :D
Do you have any fun, vaguely ethnic trinkets to show off to the White Girl With A Vague & Condescending Appreciation For Your Culture? Now’s your chance!! If there’s another thing condescending white people like, it’s tangible evidence that their patronizing viewpoint is the truth, and that all People of Color are interesting little curios instead of actual people. This is a great time to say that the wooden necklace you wear that your ex-girlfriend bought you from PacSun is actually a family heirloom passed down from generation to generation, and that your grandfather was barely able to toss it your dad before su abuelo was kidnapped in the Chilean military coup of 1973.
6. Remember the truth.
Despite what some white girl with a bindi says on Tumblr, Third World culture wasn’t developed to be shared. No matter how many Dubai nightclubs she’s partied at; no matter how many “community service” trips she’s made to Africa; no matter how much she loved The Kite Runner—the White Girl With A Vague & Condescending Appreciation For Your Culture will never know what it’s like to spend a day in your beautiful, colored skin. So make your peace with her ignorance, and go off into the night to better things, you dark star.
Did you like this piece? Check out our other guides, like: “How To Talk To White Boys Who Fetishize Your Culture At Parties: A Primer,” and “How To Find Non-Heteronormative Primers: A Primer.”
Sachin M. is a a first generation American of Indian heritage currently living in the West. When not attempting to make some humor out of the shitshow that is American race relations, Sachin enjoys punk rock, soccer, and iced coffee.