Stereotypes of white Americans in the United States

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Stereotypes of white people in the United States are generalizations about the character and behavior of people of Caucasian, and usually European, descent.


Treatment and tolerance of non-whites in the 1600s[edit]

According to Audrey Smedley, white people in the 1600s were greedy and incredulous in their pursuit of financial gain, regardless of who suffered: "What's important to remember is that when the English established the colonies, they were motivated by greed. We don't talk about that very much in our history, that people are motivated by greed. But the earliest colonists came and took over whatever land they could get from the Indians. And by the 1620s or so, it was very clear they needed laborers to work that land. And that's when they established indentured servitude. [...] By 1680, you see the beginning of the changes. [...] They passed laws that gave Europeans privileges while they increasingly enslaved Africans. [...] All of the Europeans become identified as " white." And Africans take on a different kind of identity. They are not only heathens, but they are people who are perceived as vulnerable to being enslaved. And that's a major point."[1]

Social stereotypes[edit]

In the United States, white people make up the majority of the nation's politicians, military leaders and corporate executives,[2][3][4] while most minority groups have a smaller presence, and are less well-off. Stereotypes of white people include the idea that they are all "extremely self-involved, uneducated about people other than themselves, and are unable to understand the complicated ways in which people who are not white survive."[5]

Stereotypes of white people in general often reflect those of the "backward," "barely-educated" redneck sub-population.[6] Stereotypes of rednecks include incest and inbreeding, abusing hard drugs like Meth and watching Nascar. [7]

The opposite of the redneck stereotype is the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) stereotype of wealthy well-off whites. Although only a small percentage of whites are truly wealthy in America, many minorities and poorer whites believe a much large percentage of white people, overall, are rich stereotypical WASPs. WASPs are stereotypically seen as condescending arrogant unsavory rich people who show unaffected silent disdain and disgust for lower classes and ethnic minorities as well as being exclusionary, close-minded and elitist. WASP stereotypes involve old money, Ivy League college educations, high income white collar office work in fields such as finance and law in ritzy downtown offices, country club memberships, leisure activities like golf, cricket and yachting as well as a penchant for preppy attire. The WASP stereotype also often collides with yuppie culture in a taste for the finer things in life and an unbridled love of shameless materialism in having the latest luxury cars, clothes, gadgets and living in pricy real estate from gentrified areas in world class American cities as well as spacious mansions in exclusive suburbs and exurbs. [8] WASP culture is often tied hand-in-hand with preppy culture. A 2006 television advertisement for Smirnoff Raw Tea called "Tea Partay" poked fun at preppy WASP culture in making a parody Rap music video featuring a fictional Rap group called P-Unit, or Prep Unit, consisting of stereotypical WASP young men in exclusive areas of New England rhyming about their opulent lifestyles.

One of the most prevailing stereotypes of white people is that of being an unhip and uncool race of people who have constantly emulated and awkwardly adopted facets of black American culture from music to fashion to dance to slang for most of modern American history. Since black people in America have disproportionately created a great amount of the latest trends in popular music, slang, dance and fashion over the period of many generations, young white people raised in predominantly white areas trying to awkwardly adopt these cultural trends have created the "wigger" stereotype of young white people foolishly adopting a black urban culture brought about from white oppression. The wigger stereotype was highlighted in comedy movies like Malibu's Most Wanted and Whiteboyz which poked fun at well-off privileged white suburbanites and rural dwellers who awkwardly adopted stereotypical black inner city fashion, slang, accents and mannerisms through mimicking what they saw and heard in mainstream Hip Hop videos and music on corporate owned and operated cable TV and the radio. Certain contemporary popular young white celebrities such as Miley Cyrus have been accused of being wiggers in appropriating elements of black ghetto culture like twerking. [9] [10]

Promoting his album White People Party Music, African-American rapper Nick Cannon generated controversy by posting a series of hashtags on Twitter reflecting stereotypically white interests, such as farmer's markets, beer pong, cream cheese, kissing their pet dogs, and fist pumping.[11]

Negative portrayals of specific groups of white people[edit]

As the social definition of "white people" has changed over the years, studies have shown that different races, ethnicities, and nationalities have different stereotypes of white people.[12][13] Ethnic groups such as the English, Irish, and Italians have been portrayed in popular media and culture in a negative fashion.[14] White Hispanic and Latino Americans are often overlooked in the U.S. mass media and in general American social perceptions, where being "Hispanic or Latino" is often incorrectly given a racial value, usually mixed-race, such as Mestizo,[15][16][17] while, in turn, are overrepresented and admired in the U.S. Hispanic mass media and social perceptions.[18][19][20][21][22] [23] [24]

Intra-white stereotypes[edit]

The dumb blonde is a popular-culture derogatory stereotype applied to blonde-haired women, who are typically white.[25] The archetypical "dumb blonde," while viewed as attractive and popular, has been portrayed as very promiscuous, as well as lacking in both common street-sense and academic intelligence, often to a comedic level. The dumb blonde stereotype is used in 'blonde jokes.'

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Interview with Audrey Smedley". Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Mother Jones, the Changing Power Elite, 1998". Retrieved 2007-01-20. 
  3. ^ "US Census Bureau, Household income distribution, 2005". Retrieved 2007-01-20. 
  4. ^ "US Census Bureau, Personal Income for Asian American males". Retrieved 2007-01-20. 
  5. ^ Diamond, E. (1996) Performance and Cultural Politics. Routledge. p. 279.
  6. ^ Deggans, Eric (May 1, 2013). "On 'Hicksploitation' And Other White Stereotypes Seen On TV". NPR. Retrieved June 25, 2013. 
  7. ^ Lapidos, Juliet. "How Did West Virginia get a reputation for inbreeding". Slate. 
  8. ^ Hechinger, Kevin (2009). Hechinger's Field Guide to Ethnic Stereotypes. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-4165-7782-9. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  9. ^ Stewart, Dodai. "On Miley Cyrus, Ratchet Culture and Accessorizing with Black People". Jezebel. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  10. ^ Gail Baines, Clarke. ""Don't Be a Wigger in 2013": Azeilia Banks calls out the trend of white girls acting ratchet, Miley Cyrus responds with shade". Madame Noire. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  11. ^ Miller, Hilary (March 24, 2014). "Nick Cannon Wears Whiteface, Sparks Internet Debate". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  12. ^ Fernandez, R. America Beyond black and white: How Immigrants and Fusions are Helping Us Overcome the Racial Divide. University of Michigan Press. p. 174.
  13. ^ Han, A. and Hsu, J.Y. (2004) Asian American X: An Intersection of 21st Century Asian American Voices. University of Michigan Press. p. 208.
  14. ^ Leo W. Jeffres, K. Kyoon Hur (1979) " white Ethnics and their Media Images", Journal of Communication 29 (1), 116–122.
  15. ^ Richard Rodriguez. "A CULTURAL IDENTITY". 
  16. ^ "Separated by a common language: The case of the white Hispanic". 
  17. ^ Hispanics:A Culture, Not a Race
  18. ^ black-mama-tambien.html Y Tu black Mama Tambien
  19. ^ The Blond, Blue-Eyed Face of Spanish TV
  20. ^ Blonde, Blue-Eyed Euro-Cute Latinos on Spanish TV
  21. ^ What are Telenovelas? – Hispanic Culture
  22. ^ Racial Bias Charged On Spanish-Language TV
  23. ^ black Electorate
  24. ^ Skin tone consciousness in Asian and Latin American populations
  25. ^ Regenberg, Nina (2007), Are Blonds Really Dumb?, in mind (magazine) (3)