People just like you, for certain values of you

I received a brochure in the mail for a local church which says that it's "full of people just like you."

Everybody in the brochure is white.

"You'll fit right in!" it concludes.

Bonus chatter: My friends guessed that perhaps the church members are all computer programmers who work at Microsoft and speak Swedish badly.

Comments (39)
  1. Johan Thelin says:

    Det är ju inget fel på din skrivna svenska. Du får komma över och öva på att prata!

    [Skillnaden är att man kan ta hur lång som helst med att skriva! -Raymond]
  2. Billy Bob says:

    At least that’s better than the "fake PC" that goes on.

    For example, a church in my area (not mine) sent out a similar flyer with Asian, Mexican, and negro peoples; there wasn’t a white guy on it. Yet, everyone in that church is white…

    There’s also a lot of mismatches between the alt text for some marketing images and the images themselves. I laugh every time I go to a certain online bill page where the alt text states "man typing at laptop computer", yet it’s a picture of a "hip" young girl casually glancing at a laptop.

  3. Anonymous Coward says:

    To play Devil’s advocate (or in this case perhaps more aptly God’s advocate – is there a difference?) skin colour, like hair and eye colour, is something that has no bearing on who you are as a person. They could very well be people just like you.

    Unless of course, you aren’t religious. But the point remains that their skin colour shouldn’t factor in your judgement.

  4. Em says:

    @Anonymous Coward:  In not-yet-quite-post-racial America, skin color still matters.

  5. Jim says:

    The point is: why do you want to meet people like you? I would like someone different.

  6. Marquess says:

    To quote Kate Monster: Princeton, I’m surprised at you! I find that racist!

    (But don’t forget: Everyone’s a little bit racist!)

  7. Olivier says:

    If you want to meet someone like you (who also work at Microsoft and speak Swedish badly) : buy a mirror :)

  8. violet says:

    You know, Google translate handled that exchange remarkably well, apart from one relatively small quirk (which, for all I know, may have been an error on Raymond’s part ;-) ). I wonder if that’s simply a random quirk, or if Sweedish and English are particularly compatible in some way that’s interesting to the authors of translation software.

    (<em>Du vet, Google Translate hanteras som utbyter anmärkningsvärt väl, bortsett från en relativt liten besynnerlighet (som, vad vet jag, kan ha varit ett misstag Raymond sida ;-)). Jag undrar om det är helt enkelt en slumpmässig sarkasm, eller om Sweedish och engelska är särskilt kompatibla på något sätt som är intressant att författarna till översättningsprogram.</em>)

    @BillyBob — "For example, a church in my area (not mine) sent out a similar flyer with Asian, Mexican, and <em>negro</em> peoples"

    &#8230;are you serious? Tell me you’re not serious.

  9. [Bonus chatter: My friends guessed that perhaps the church members are all computer programmers who work at Microsoft and speak Swedish badly. ]

    This made me laugh. :)

  10. Crescens2k says:

    If it was people like me, that church would be empty. If it wasn’t then it would be very scary, somewhere there is a church full of people like me. One of me is bad enough.

  11. Presumably, then, the church is operated by Microsoft Poland’s advertising division. :)

    (Notoriously, the Polish version of an ad for a Microsoft product with a photo of people at a board table was a little ethnically cleansed.)

  12. a random passerby says:

    @violet: I wouldn’t be surprised if English were strongly influenced by nordic languages. Those vikings loved the English shore for some time.

  13. BuckWoody says:

    Awesome!  Another chance for someone to bash Christianity. I know that’s everyone’s favorite pass time.

  14. Alexandre Grigoriev says:

    @Buck Woody:

    You mean we’re not limited to only bashing Vista? Great!

  15. jenk says:

    Buck, if you can’t see the difference between megachurch marketing and Christianity, you have a problem.

    I live in Redmond, and "full of people just like you" sounds real familiar. But I grew up in a fundie megachurch, so my snarks about the marketing flyers tends to be much more meta.

  16. MadQ says:

    I don’t speak Swedish, can’t understand a thing when Swedish is being spoken, but I had no trouble understanding the Swedish exchange above. I guess it’s similar enough to Dutch and German.

    @violet: well, just because their skin color is dark, doesn’t mean they’re African Americans. They could be African Africans. Or maybe he meant people who live near the river with that name. I’m reminded of this whole big brouhaha (to the point of getting the CEO and human resources involved) when someone was mistakenly offended by the the word "niggardly" (which, incidentally appears to have Swedish origins).

  17. Mike Dunn says:

    When given "din skrivna svenska," Microsoft Translator outputs "your written English." I found that surprising, as I had guessed that "svenska" meant "Swedish."  Either I was woefully off in my guess, or Translator went recursive when I asked it to translate Swedish into English.

  18. yhnbyrhth says:

    @Robert Synnott: there was no reason to do it, as far as I can guess, being a Polish individual, we have plenty of idiocy here, but I don’t recall anything against people with different skin colour (excepts those skinhead and rasist scums that are everywhere in the world and have problem with everyone else). Yet Microsoft replaced black guy with white one on the banner. WTF? Maybe some MS marketing type in Poland is hypersensitive. I’d then replace him with more clever person.

  19. magna says:

    This smacks of Stuff White People Like:

    #2 – Religions your parents don’t belong to

    #7 – Diversity

    "Many white people will spend hours talking about how great it is that they can get Sushi and Tacos on the same street. But then they send their kids to private school with other rich white kids, and only live in rich, white neighborhoods"

    According to the last census, 70.09% of the city is white, 13.1% Asian, and 8.4% black, and 5.3% Hispanic – making it one of the most white-bread cities in the country.

    I won’t lie – it’s just as bad down here in Portland – which is even MORE white, but thinks of itself as even more ardently diverse.  Yet you’d NEVER see a white person moving into the predominantly black NE Portland areas…

  20. Cooney says:

    I would guess that the private schools are a result of the rather lackluster quality of public schools – I wouldn’t really expect the blacks to behave any differently, given the means, so maybe the mostly white things is a result of the 8% representation in the population and a lower median wage.

  21. Bob says:

    Some christians won’t be happy until we’re feeding them to the lions. I know that doesn’t sound like fun, but at least they’ll be able to scream about the terrible persecution they’re facing.

    It must be awful knowing that there are countries where Muslims are killed for their faith, and yet in Western nations, the worst persecution a Christian can claim to suffer is people pointing and laughing.

    Still, we should all remember the zero’th amendment of the US constitution: "we, the people, being very proud of ourselves, have the right to freedom from being laughed at."

    So, let’s be nice to the christians. They’ve got really hard lives filled with suffering and persecution.

  22. SH code says:

    @violet – i guess it’s the "swedish and english are compatible in some way", because i tried to translate those two sentences to czech first, and it was horrible, i had to translate it swedish->english to at least understand what it was supposed to mean…

  23. Alexandre Grigoriev says:


    I heard that once in a newspaper, a journo called visiting Nelson Mandela (or other famous black) African-American.

    @Bob: “Muslims are killed for their faith” mostly by other Muslims who belond to slightly different branch. Just like “Christians” in Belfast not so long ago.

    [The African American Registry lists Kofi Annan. Um, Kofi Annan is not African-American. He’s African (more specifically, Ghanaian). -Raymond]
  24. Drak says:

    @Bob: Christians are killed for their faith too in some parts of the world.

    Me? Not religious, don’t care about anyone elses religion. Live and let live, I say.

  25. GWO says:

    Judging whether people are like us, based only on their skin colour.  Does anyone else remember when that would’ve been considered prejudiced?

    Personally, I decide whether someone is like me based on the content of their character.

  26. Some Name says:

    Yah, but it will always be filled with all white people as long as any non-white people won’t go because it’s filled with all white people.

  27. Dave Harris says:

    Full of people like me? You mean, atheists?

  28. NotMe says:

    I’m reminded of a post I once saw saying can’t everyone just get along like they do in India.  Yep, Hindus and Muslims burning out trains, Hindus killing Christians, and what about Pakistan?  Can’t we all just get along.

  29. mt says:


    "I won’t lie – it’s just as bad down here in Portland – which is even MORE white, but thinks of itself as even more ardently diverse.  Yet you’d NEVER see a white person moving into the predominantly black NE Portland areas…"

    I lived in that area for a bit (near 82nd and Sandy), and who would want to move there?  It’s dirty and not very safe (and mostly white), although not as bad as N. Portland (white and black area, all bad).

  30. Anonymuos says:

    I don’t like MS ever since the it "got" the Windows Vista and 7 values.

  31. David Walker says:

    My Dad once asked a fellow professor how many black people were in his advanced Calculus class.  The friend said "I don’t know; I never pay attention to that."

  32. Morten says:

    "I wouldn’t be surprised if English were strongly influenced by nordic languages. Those vikings loved the English shore for some time."

    Yeah, we pwned that place pretty hard for a few centuries. Likewise northern France (including Paris – mmmm, Paris), Sicily, Russia and even Byzantium took a pasting at various times. Byzantium went about it the smart way and bought us off, the rest we had to convince to pay "taxes" with a kind word and an axe. I think it’s no more than a couple of centuries or three ago we started being wary of the Germans and the English. *sigh* Those were the good old days… :-D

    That aside, we all speak nearly the same language – German. There are small differences but it’s mostly the same. Dutch, Danish, German, Norwegian, Swedish – even Icelandic can be deciphered given enough time.

  33. DriverDude says:

    "I received a brochure in the mail…"

    And you read it? You’re too generous with your time.

    I stopped paying attention to that junk once I realized they (collectively) have no idea who I am. I get adverts for clubs I am already a member of, or companies whose services I already use; and most appropriately, a membership application for the AARP – the Retired Persons association – when I was a teenager.

    Though I suppose that’s always good for a laugh or blog.

  34. Alexandre Grigoriev says:

    Was it Groucho Marx who said "I would never join any club that would accept me as a member"?

    Just tell them "I would never go to any church that is full of people like me".

  35. Steve Mansfield says:

    Full of people like me? You mean, atheists?

    Dave Harris, you beat me to it! Maybe we should start a church :)

  36. Danny says:

    <<Everybody in the brochure is white.

    The fact that Ray was looking at skin color when he read the brochure make me wonder if he is a racist. After all, his past entries did treated some racism he was facing when he was a teen, and as psychology states, when you face a particular type of treatment while you’re growing, you will apply the same treatment when you’re a adult.

  37. Anonymous Coward says:

    If I was invited to a party full of people just like me, I would run away like hell !

  38. jconde says:

    I’ve been reading the blog for a while but it never occurred to me before what the author looked like. All I have to go on, by implication, is Swedish and non-white. Clearly this can mean only one thing :-)

    Now every time I come here I’ll be picturing a black viking. Ebony face, blue eyes, flowing blond hair under a horned helm. Battle axe leaned into the corner as he crouches over his keyboard . . .

  39. violet says:

    @Danny — Certainly. After all, there is no difference at all between recognizing the existence of race and being racist. (Particularly if you’re not white.)

    @MadQ — "Niggardly" has, if I recall, Saxon roots, and a definition all to itself. Unlike, say, "negro," which is the base word for a particularly charged racial slur, and itself has a rather uncomplimentary history, at least in the U.S. If you want to talk about black people without making assumptions about their nationality, you can actually say, "black people". (You can even do this if you are assuming a nationality, since any particular black American may neither be from nor identify with Africa in any particular way.)

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