Explaining White People, Part 1: Why Whites Take Pics Of Other People’s Kids


TIME Magazine’s vigilant quest to keep White folks in the loop — What does bae mean? Why do Asians pose with a peace sign in pictures?…Why is the sky blue, why is water wet, why did Judas rat the Romans while Jesus slept? — has inspired us all. That’s why I've decided to just tackle the core of the issue: Why don’t we all just act more like White people?


It’s a good question. White people are privy to some of the greatest things in America — ironic tattoos, ironic racist jokes, and ironic bars, to name just a few — and I can certainly see why they’d be so baffled about everyone else’s refusal to just do the shit they do. So to help the rest of us understand the appeal, I'm here to provide a series of quick, scientifical looks into why White people do White people things.

Now, when we say other people’s kids, we do mean OTHER people — Black and brown people to be precise. Whether it’s Kristin in Ghana taking pictures of the kids she’s teaching African dance, or Sage back on the homefront snapping an Instagram of the little brown girl drawing chalk outlines on the sidewalk, White people really enjoy giving small kids the gift of an internet presence they and their parents have no way of knowing about or controlling. Why? Well, let's see.

It’s no secret White people greatly enjoy proclaiming their lack of prejudice. It’s like breathing for them, and it’s certainly far easier than actually not being racist. And what better way to posture than to take pictures of children who are not White? “Hey,” White people probably say. “This picture of schoolkids in Harlem eating free breakfast would totally make a great performance art piece!

White Culture Anthropologist Biff Chiply explains that the picture is like a rite of passage for Whites, who must venture into territory unknown when they come of age. Whether this involves going into another country, or going into the slightly-less-gentrified part of their neighborhood, White people must take this journey and are not allowed to rejoin their own without a picture of an indigenous child for proof.

To begin the ritual, they often put on a war costume of elaborate khaki shorts and flip-flops. During their journey, they pray to the pantheon of Whiteness by doing elaborate yoga poses in odd places in order to channel the spirit of Gwyneth Paltrow to the space. Then, after finding some way to offer unsolicited help to those around them and spread their energy further, they take a picture to immortalize the impact they’ve made. As volunteer trips are often impractical and unsustainable, this is hugely necessary; otherwise, there would be no sign that they had helped at all. Or worse, clear evidence that they had somehow made things worse.

“You have to help the children learn how to learn,” said Skylar, a White tutor who told us that he had to explain to the children he works with what a “genderless name” is. “If only they could do that, they could really understand what life is like beyond the rainbow, and like, what else do you need? Well, other than like, food, water, and housing, obviously, but like, teach a kid to multiply, or whatever they say.”


Namaste, Skylar. Namaste.



White people. Ugh.

Nothing personal, but when I read posts like this it usually makes me cringe a bit. Just as all Black people get bent at being grouped in such a way, it rubs me slightly the wrong way too. This would probably rub others more harsh than me, I'm quite sure.

The flip side is that I'm reading what a young person wrote and have to continue to remind myself of this perspective. It is highly unlikely that you've experienced a lot of different cultures to truly analyze many of the differences in what people actually do, not based on color.

In another context, this statement would be seen as racist in itself. "why White people do White people things." How quickly would Twitter explode if a white person wrote "Why Black people do Black people things." It takes on a whole different tone, now doesn't it?

Anyway, I'm just adding my 2 cents like it matters. You know, I'm kind of the 'let's all get along' kind of person. Sadly, that has yet to happen. Sigh.