A Complete Guide to 'Hipster Racism'

By Lindy West reinterpreted by Lesberatti
What is hipster racism?

Hipster racism involves making derogatory comments with a racial basis in an attempt to seem witty and above it all. Specifically, the idea is to sound ironic, as in “I’m allowed to say this because of course I’m not racist, so it’s funny.” It’s an aspect of a larger part of the hipster culture, which wants to seem jaded and urbane and oh-so-witty. 

http://s3.amazonaws.com/rapgenius/hipster-chick-300x229.jpgThere's been talk these last couple of weeks about "hipster racism" or "ironic racism"—or, as I like to call it, racism

Introducing your black friend as "my black friend"—as a joke!!!—to show everybody how totally not preoccupied you are with your black friend's blackness. 

It's the gentler, more clueless, and more insidious cousin of a hick in a hood; the domain of educated, middle-class white people (unlike me—to be clear, I am NOT one of those: “whites” at least not fully [biracial]) who believe that not wanting to be racist makes it okay for them to be totally racist. "But I went to college — I can't be racist!" Turns out, you can. 

People benefit from racism every day—and things that benefit powerful people don't just suddenly get "fixed" and disappear because Halle Berry and Octavia Butler won Oscars. Modern racism lives in entrenched de facto inequalities, in coded language about "work ethic" and "states' rights," in silent negative spaces like absence and invisibility, and in Newt Gingrich's hair. And in irony.
When some white people are trying to be sensitive about race but they don't know what to say, they usually go with, "Well, race is a complicated issue." Except, no, it's not. 
Race is one of the least complicated issues that there is, because it was made up by whites. It's arbitrary. It's as complicated as Santa Claus, if anything Whites SHOULD understand race, they are the ones who conceptualized it.

Oh, that guy's mom was half-black, which makes his skin slightly more pigmented than mine, which therefore means that he's inherently 12.5% lazier than me? Science! Um, no. Just something made up by whites to secure their sense of privilege.

What's actually complicated is our country's relationship with race, and our utter ineptitude at talking about it. We suck

I mean, not just white people. African Americans are oversensitive and everything seems to be construed as a racial slight. 

The Home Schooled spend their days online playing on Social media, commenting on CNN, Twitter and YouTube. Hell why do you think late night television hosts make fun of uneducated Americans? When the Trayvon Martin tragedy went national you would see some of the most racist comments on the CNN website. I could yell that the comments were written by children because of the inevitable “Why?” questions regarding the most basic understanding of social stratification.
Not our best.
Racism is like a wily little bacterium. It doesn't just roll over and die once we swallow our antibiotics, or elect a president of color—it mutates and evolves and hides itself in plain sight, and then all of a sudden, fuck, my arm fell off. Dickhead bacteria. 

(Sidenote: arm for sale!)
A long time ago (not really!), it was socially acceptable to own people. Then it wasn't, but it was socially acceptable to murder people if they looked at your wife. Then it wasn't! Yay! But it was still okay to say that people whose skin color you didn't like weren't allowed to be around you. And so on. 

Eventually we arrived at the point (now) where it's socially unacceptable in mainstream culture for white people to say denigrating things about people of other races [Someone tell Lisa Lampanelli]. 

But just because the behavior has been suppressed, that doesn't mean people's prejudices have simply disappeared. And white people haaaaaate being told what to do in their country (fun fact: not actually "their's")!
So racism went underground. Sure, you can't say racist things anymore [unless you’re a TeaPubliKKKan], but you can pretend to say them! Which, it turns out, is pretty much the exact same thing. There are a couple of strains of "ironic racism" making the rounds right now, and a couple of typical defenses.
1. "Tee-Hee, Aren't I Adorable?"

This category includes things like
wide-eyed acoustic covers of hip-hop songs, suburban white girls flashing gang signs, and this Tweet from Zooey Deschanel: "Haha. :) RT @Sarabareilles: Home from tour and first things first: New Girl episodes I missed. #thuglife." See, it's hilarious, because we aren't thugs—we are darling girls, and real thugs are black people who do crime! Oh, hey, can I call you back? I need to sew more ric-rac on my apron. I hope a black person didn't get into my ric-rac Kaboodle and steal all of it! JK, LOL. RIP, Whitney.
(Now, I'm not saying that Zooey Deschanel is some terrible racist. I don't know her, although I did sit next to her at a restaurant once, and she ordered "olives." She seemed lovely, and she didn't call anyone the n-word for the entire meal. But I'm saying that we are all kind of bizarrely cavalier and careless these days, throwing our most deeply-considered morals under the bus for the sake of a few cheap jokes. It's weird, and we owe the world a little more critical thinking.)
2. "Recreational Slumming."

Wherein privileged people descend for a visit inside the strange, foreign spaces of othered groups. Like, I don't know, IHOP. Or that "scary" bar in the south end. Then they go home again. Catchphrase: "It's soooooo ghetto, but I actually totally like it!"

3. "Ummm, I'm a Writer and I'm Trying to Write in Here!"

This is Lesley Arfin
crowing about the majestic power of the n-word, and white kids whining that it's "unfair" that black people "get" to use "it". You know, because words are powerful and words are Arfin's craft and would you take the color red away from the best painter on Twitter??? And besides, don't you just find Arfin to be so RAW and DELICIOUSLY NAUGHTY? It's all tied up with the deliberately obtuse people who conflate "freedom of speech" with "immunity from criticism.

" You "can" say the n-word. Go ahead and say it if you want, Skrillex. And I will go ahead and give you the world's most sidewaysiest eyeball forever. Because it hurts people. Why do you want to hurt people?
4. "God, Don't White People Suck?"

Okay, I get what you're trying to do here—having some fun at the expense of the oppressors while setting yourself up as one of the "cool" white people—but mainly what you end up doing is implying that black people don't like
informative radio or TED talks. Stuff White People Like: having the best brains! Isn't it great that they can make fun of themselves while still reminding you that they're better than you?
And the thing is, when these things get called out, there really is no defense. But instead they try:
"No, don't you see? I'm just showing how I'm so down with [marginalized groups] that it's totally cool for me to make jokes at their expense. Because we are just that kind of tight bros now."

No. You cannot unlock some secret double-not-racist achievement by just being regular racist. Otherwise Bill O'Reilly would be president of the NAACP.

"But it's a JOOOOOKE."

Here's the thing about jokes. They only work when they're aiming up. People in positions of power simply cannot make jokes at the expense of the powerless. More importantly, people not in power shouldn’t make fun of the powerless because they ARE the powerless, even though the Republican party would have them believe that living in a trailer park or white ghetto surrounded by neighbors that are on the sex offender registry is inherently better than living with people of African or Hispanic descent.  See poor whites are convinced that they will become millionaires if they support millionaires, and that everyone else will want their riches.  Never Gonna Happnin’. Not Ever.

That's why, at a company party, you never have a roast where the CEO is roasting the janitor ("Isn't it funny how Steve can barely feed his family? This guy knows what I'm talking about!" [points to other janitor]). Because that would be GROSS, and both janitors would have to work late to clean up everyone's barf. Open-mic comedians, I know you think you're part of some fresh vanguard in alternative comedy who just discovered that a lot of black ladies don't like it when you touch their hair, but pleeeeeeease just stick to stuff about how your stupid girlfriend is a bitch. (Just kidding. Please never speak again.)

"So I'm not allowed to have a genuine interest in another culture?!!?!??!"

First of all, privileged dickweeds wearing Urban Outfitters "Navajo" panties, I didn't realize that you excavated those in your anthropological field work. My bad. Carry on. And second of all, again, you "can" do whatever the you want. 

You "can" wear whatever you want, say whatever you want, and think whatever you want about whatever you want. All the time! Yaaay! But if a group of people comes to you and says, "This thing that you are doing is hurting us," [Lisa Lampanelli PAY ATTENTION] and you keep doing it for fun, then you are a c*ntweed! 

"Yeah, but we have a black president! Isn't racism over?"

Okay. That's probably the most racist thing I’ve ever heard, imaginary amalgam of all the careless hipsters in the world. 

You know how you can tell that black people are still oppressed? 

Because black people are still oppressed. If you claim that you are not a racist person (or, at least, that you're committed to working your ass off not to be one—which is really the best that any of us can promise), then you must believe that people are fundamentally born equal. So if that's true, then in a vacuum, factors like skin color should have no effect on anyone's success. Right? And therefore, if you really believe that all people are created equal, then when you see that drastic racial inequalities exist in the real world, the only thing that you could possibly conclude is that some external force is holding certain people back. Like...racism. Right? 

Congratulations! You believe in racism! Unless you don't actually think that people are born equal. And if you don't believe that people are born equal, then you're a fucking racist.

But you know what? At least that's sincere. And at least sincere racism isn't running around Brooklyn wearing artisanal suspenders and masquerading as enlightenment. Give me sincere racism or give me no racism at all, but enough with this weaselly sh!t.

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