I don't agree with every sentence of former Stranger Film Editor Lindy West's critique of "hipster racism," but the piece packs a few very salient punches, and Lindy's ability to say smart, serious things in a funny, unserious way always impresses me.
Racism is like a wily little bacterium. It doesn't just roll over and die once we swallow our antibiotics—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. 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.
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?
And the thing is, when these things get called out, there really is no defense. But they try:
"No, don't you see? I'm just showing how I'm so down with [minority group] 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.
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