From Jezebel’s “A Complete Guide to ‘Hipster Racism’“:
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. 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 our own country (fun fact: not actually “ours”)!
So racism went underground. Sure, you can’t say racist things anymore, 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 obv 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 we can make fun of ourselves while still reminding you that we’re better than you?
Zooey Deschanel is racist for using the hashtag “#thuglife?” Since when is “thug” a racial term? It used to refer to the Thuggee, a Hindu cult of assassins, but the term entered the mainstream a long time ago. Gee, black people use oxygen. Does that mean breathing is racist?
The problem with hipsters isn’t so much racism as classism, arrogance and a sneering contempt for everyone they consider inferior to themselves. That and the fact that they seem incapable of grasping small “d” democracy.
Filed under: Uncategorized