From The Atlantic Monthly:
In January, Christian Lander — a 29-year-old Toronto-raised, McGill-educated Ph.D. dropout who worked as a corporate communications manager in Los Angeles — started a blog called Stuff White People Like. By February, the site was a runaway hit, garnering 30,000 hits daily. By March, it was getting 300,000. SWPL — which catalogs the tastes, prejudices, and consumption habits of well-off, well-educated, youngish, self-described progressives — was refreshing because it’s everything a blog, almost by definition, is not. Rather than serving up unedited, impromptu, self-important ruminations on random events and topics, the tightly focused, stylishly written, precisely observed entries eschew the genre’s characteristic I (though Lander in fact writes nearly all of them) and adopt a cool, never snarky though sometimes biting, pseudo-anthropological tone.
Lander’s White People aren’t always white, and the vast majority of whites aren’t White People (he doesn’t even capitalize the term). But although Lander’s designation is peculiar, he’s hardly the first to dissect this elite and its immediate predecessors (see for instance Mark E. Kann’s Middle Class Radicalism in Santa Monica, Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism, Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class, and David Brooks’s Bobos in Paradise — Brooks calls these people variously “bourgeois bohemians,” the “educated elite,” and the “cosmopolitan class”). Lander, like many of these writers, traces this group’s values to the 1960s, and there’s clearly a connection between a politics based on “self-cultivation” (to quote the Students for a Democratic Society’s gaseous manifesto, the Port Huron Statement) and what Lander defines as White People’s ethos: “their number-one concern is about the best way to make themselves happy.” That concern progresses naturally into consumer narcissism and a fixation on health and “well-being”: Lander’s most entertaining and spot-on entries dissect White People’s elaborate sumptuary codes, their dogged pursuit of their own care and feeding, and their efforts to define themselves and their values through their all-but-uniform taste and accessories (Sedaris/Eggers/The Daily Show/the right indie music/Obama bumper stickers/uh, The New Yorker).
So why call this group “White People”? Lander is almost certainly being mischievous.