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The Best Take Down of Hipster Racism You Will Ever See

I’ve watched and shared this video so many times that I figured I should blog about it. The poets are Kai Davis (left) and Safiya Washington (right) of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement performing at last year’s Brave New Voices semi-finals.

The term “hipster racism” was coined by Carmen Van Kerckhove at Racialicious and refers to using racist language “ironically”But I would go a step further and say that the hipster lifestyle is quite racist in and off itself and Davis and Washington’s performance perfectly encapsulates why that is. As s.e. Smith explained back in 2009:

Hipsters are a driving force behind gentrification, driving out low income people and people of colour. They consistently co-opt and appropriate elements of other cultures, piecemeal, and often without any cultural sensitivity or respect. They regularly draw upon the work and legacy of people of colour, usually without crediting them, and most of their contact with people of colour comes in the form of the service personnel serving them their food, cleaning their wine bars, and picking their organic produce.

This isn’t to say that anyone who owns vinyl records and shops at Urban Outfitters is a raging bigot. In fact, most hipsters I know consider themselves very liberal and part of the counter-culture that despises the establishment, so they equate racism with people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. What they refuse to grasp is that racism is way more complex than that.

This can be seen in the reaction to the video. In my experience, people either love or hate it and those who hate it are more often than not (surprise surprise!) white hipsters who complain that Davis and Washington’s performance is too angry, too aggressive. They’re basically demanding that people who are routinely insulted and oppressed by the world around them temper their criticisms to spare the feelings of the oppressor. Fuck that!

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189 Comments
  1. Bert Ferks #

    This is just folks from one group of people hating on another group of people. Nothing more and nothing less. I fail to see how this is constructive or productive, or artistic in any way.
    It’s unabashed, generic, class based hatred.

    February 18, 2013
    • Must’ve touched a nerve. Typical of folks denying the realities of PoC.

      February 18, 2013
    • Gracchvs #

      And what’s wrong with class hatred? It offends middle class liberals? This is a bad thing?

      February 18, 2013
      • Nothing wrong with class hatred, if it isn’t a pose, like so much on the left these days

        February 18, 2013
      • justaminute #

        what’s wrong with class hatred is that it never got anyone anywhere. least of all those who feel oppressed, from women to ethnic groups to socio-economic groups. it’s not constructive. just in the way that women just flat out hating men is not constructive.

        March 30, 2013
    • I heard it as a challenge to find out what it’s like to “be yourself”. Maybe it’s my old deaf ears but I thought I heard them saying they can see through our attempts to be cool, which includes making sure people know we’re not racist. Maybe they don’t get to say what’s cool and maybe they’re after cred like the rest of us. But how about if we just listen a few times and check our list, see if we’re doing any of that stuff they say they can see through? Because if they can so can everyone and here’s an opportunity to be less of a fool going forward. The world needs who we really are, not our costumes, not our taste in music and food, not our ability to mimic.

      February 19, 2013
    • super racist

      February 19, 2013
      • @funkzillabot – exactly and oh dear – I forgot that we’re not supposed to call it racism, what exactly are we supposed to call it these days when @bert ferks tells us it’s just hating, may could be you’re right, and I look to white folks to tell me just how to feel about racism, it’s just *hate* without all the lovely heritage of privilege that white supremacy and racism gives these dear misguided poets. Oh, oops, I forgot to let you tell me how I’m supposed act, oops spent too much time reading #frederickdouglass and #zoranealehurston

        February 20, 2013
    • funkzillabot #

      @Bert Ferks

      Agreed. It’s good to keep telling yourself over and over again, that it’s the OTHER group of people’s fault, “not mine.” That way you never have to take responsibility or acknowledge the problem.

      It’s how the unfeeling wash away guilt. Nice job.

      February 20, 2013
      • I blame the goths for racism

        February 20, 2013
    • Chris #

      Exactly. Another example of how it’s pretty well impossible to do anything that doesn’t incur the wrath of some aggrieved party or another. Okay, if it makes them happy, I’ll distance myself from blacks (and asians for good measure), not give to charity, and stop giving a crap about animals too.

      February 21, 2013
      • sonya renee #

        Chris, what would it look like to chose not to be defensive? How would you respond if you chose not to be defensive.

        March 5, 2013
      • Cristalexi #

        That’s how racism started in the first place – whites distancing themselves from everyone else!!!

        April 20, 2013
      • well if hipsters would stop being retarded ignorant moron’s we could all get back to our lives but seeing as you people if we can legally call you people decided to hold all of new york hostage with your inane banter and your fake liberalism the rest of hard working society can go back to being just that but no you have to parade around and act like your own fecal material don’t stink so yeah the rest of america doesn’t give a shit grow up

        April 24, 2013
    • annette #

      that’s probably because you’re too privileged to understand what it is like to live with prejudices against you every single moment of your life

      February 24, 2013
    • It’s definitely artistic. There’s 1 or more performers performing a work of expression. That’s what makes something art. Whether it’s constructive or productive is irrelevant – it’s art. It exists because it exists. All forms of expression exist for the purpose of expressing. What the expression leads to – a conversation, an action, thought – is irrelevant in the context of the act itself.

      And it’s not generic at all. They’re very specific in their choice of words and in their references to situations and feelings. They are both highly skilled slam poets delivering acutely specific slam poetry.

      You said, “This is just folks from one group of people hating on another group of people.” While that may be true, it may also be more accurately described as “two people hating on a group of people as a reaction to their perception of that group of people hating on them.”

      You can argue with armchair rhetoric about the veracity of their perceptions until the cows come home (I’m assuming you live on a farm.)

      But what you can’t do – without looking like a total d-bag – is undermine someone’s form of expression by waving them off.

      February 27, 2013
      • hunter #

        totally unnecessary farm comment.

        March 13, 2013
  2. Wes #

    someone is suffering chiponshoulderitas

    February 18, 2013
    • And it’s probably you.

      February 23, 2013
  3. arewereallytalkingaboutthisagain #

    This article is great and all… but this article, and especially the italicized excerpt, do little to dispel your own concerns. Many of us know that racism is too complex. Many of us are trained to view race and class (amongst other things, like gender, sexuality, etc) as social constructs. We are trained in the feminist tradition. Etc etc etc. But ultimately, this article is based on a false premise that some hipster class truly does exist, one that actually acts in ironic and insensitive ways and that is somehow baseless. As someone who is often called a hipster, I think this characterization is unfair and poorly thought-out. How can we preach about the problems of racism yet, at the same time, generalize about an entire group of people in a way that blames and criticizes instead of advances greater understanding. Isn’t the point of all of this to have better understanding, because understanding leads to actions? But we must stop those generic hipster people from being ironically racist and countercultural !

    What about structural barriers that prevent many of these so-called hipsters from actively engaging with people of other socioeconomic statuses, including specifically the many latinos and blacks who are often found in difficult situations of poverty. Assuming “hipsterism” is more of a middle class white phenomena.. how do you expect them to interact more frequently and display greater understanding? Aren’t enlightened activists supposed to identify and understand structural barriers and try to address them? Blame games are no fun because, over time, you start to realize there is often little black-and-white blame, but a much more present and encompassing grey.

    February 18, 2013
    • You say “Many of us know that racism is too complex. Many of us are trained to view race and class (amongst other things, like gender, sexuality, etc) as social constructs.” Who are you talking about? Perhaps you and I are aware of these social constructs but in my experience the vast majority of people are not.

      And I specifically pointed out in my post that this doesn’t mean all people who we might label “hipster” are racist. But there does tend to be a strain of hipsters that refuse to acknowledge their own privilege and how they benefit from institutionalized racism. And the poets in the video, as young black women, are responding to that and they have every right to.

      It shouldn’t be the responsibility of the oppressed to politely teach the oppressor class how not to be racially insensitive.

      February 18, 2013
      • RationalThinker #

        “But there does tend to be a strain of hipsters that refuse to acknowledge their own privilege and how they benefit from institutionalized racism.”

        Let’s face it – that privilege and benefit from institutionalized racism is widespread. Far, far, far beyond hipsters. And there are segments of every population that will refuse to acknowledge it. The problems the girls mention – gentrification, a paternalistic and patronizing approach to African aid – are real, that’s undeniable.

        Where this video fails is that it takes a legitimate, widespread problem, and then capitalizes on mainstream contempt for a certain, stereotyped group of people (hipsters) to join support for their cause. These girls are scapegoating an entire group of people to express their own oppression. It’s not helpful, it’s a perpetuation of inter-group conflict. It’s part of the problem, not the solution.

        February 18, 2013
      • Ian Free #

        Have you measured this idea of people who don’t acknowledge their own privilege, or do you just assume that this phenomena exists to a given, yet unmeasured degree? Then there the idea that some know of their privilege, but struggle to find a way to ‘make amends’ without walking into another ‘you’re just feeling guilty’ trap. It complicated when you can be stereotyped by people whom look for easy, singular answers, like these smug young ladies do.

        February 20, 2013
    • WillHunter #

      RationalThinker.
      I don’t mean to poke at your writing, but when you say “privilege and benefit from institutionalized racism is widespread. Far, far, far beyond hipsters[,]” it is not clear that you understand that no one has said hipsters are the only perpetrators and beneficiaries of institutional racism. It has only been stated above that “…there [are] hipsters that refuse to acknowledge their own privilege and how they benefit from institutionalized racism.” Next.
      “These girls are scapegoating an entire group of people to express their own oppression.”
      Um, no, they aren’t. They are describing something they have observed closely enough to write a poem about, and it is about people who do all the things they talk about, and how the poets feel about that. It is the article that says this is a takedown of hipster-racism.
      Arewereallytalkingabouthisagain?
      Yes, we are. “How can we preach about the problems of racism yet, at the same time, generalize about an entire group of people in a way that blames and criticizes instead of advances greater understanding.” These poets have and answer for you at 2:23. Just because your understanding of racism is unadvanced does not make racism equate to blaming and criticizing people in a general way.
      Everyone responding to this article in a defensive way should be starting all their comments with “to be fair, as a white person…”

      February 18, 2013
      • CallingBS #

        @WillHunter, You had some decent points, but you lost all credibility with your last line (Everyone responding to this article in a defensive way should be starting all their comments with “to be fair, as a white person…”), which revealed some extremely troubling sentiments. Based on that statement, it can be logically deduced that you believe that:

        1. This debate is a matter of “Whites” versus “Non-Whites”; and
        2. The “Non-White” faction forms a unitary block which holds a single position with no room for dissenting opinion.

        Both of these positions are flagrantly racist, and undermine your entire argument.

        February 18, 2013
      • WillHunter #

        So, are you implying that when an idea or an action has any inherently racist content or motivation it is illegitimate?

        February 19, 2013
      • WillHunter #

        @callingBS: If you won’t answer, then I will answer myself.
        “1. This debate is a matter of “Whites” versus “Non-Whites”; and
        2. The “Non-White” faction forms a unitary block which holds a single position with no room for dissenting opinion.”

        This is not open to “debate.” That implies that “white” (holders of the most unearned privilege) people have some say in whether or not their actions are racist. That is why you should 2:23. In an oppression reduction scenario, it is not up to the oppressed to defend their claims that something is racist to the oppressor. It is up to the oppressor(s) to find out why the oppressed feel that way, by listening to them, and ceasing the harmful behaviour. White people are the most privileged and least oppressed strata of the social hierarchy. They don’t get to avoid stopping oppression because they think that being called out as the beneficiaries of racist privilege is racist.
        The non-white faction does form a unitary block, yet which holds many positions, which all have the same goal: elimination of oppression. Any dissent towards oppression reduction is racist. Even if the dissenter isn’t “white.” Then they’re just colonized.
        If something that is flagrantly racist is illegitimate, then, as social constructs, so are “white” hipsters, “white” people, and our entire culture.Time to start over. Being in a position of unearned privilege is racist, when that privilege is granted due to race. Any “white” person who is not actively reducing their own privilege is supporting racism by passively benefiting from it. It is time for all “white” people to recognize how they benefit from unearned privilege, and figure out how they can surrender that privilege.

        February 19, 2013
      • Dana #

        Will,
        First of all I’ve read your comments and your dancing on both sides if the line yourself (Everyone responding to this article in a defensive way should be starting all their comments with “to be fair, as a white person…”). Racism is not inherent in white skin anymore then it is in black skin or any skin. It is a cultural and mode of thinking that is passed on, one of superiority or inferiority promoted by one or the other or both. It is our minds and the ideas that define our beings, our bodies are vehicles in which to express and even shape to some degree that potential but they are just vehicles. We are subject to our greatest thoughts as you are to your anger. I truly believe that you have lost all standing in this discussion.

        February 19, 2013
      • LT #

        @will hunter and @openyoureyes

        I acknowledge white privilege exists, and that I benefit from it. I try, as best I can, to help those groups who do not benefit from it. What I don’t understand is how I can surrender it. From Ms. McIntosh’s essay, she listed 26 ways in which she benefits from white privilege, including:
        > “If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.”
        > “Whether I [use] checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.”
        > “I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.”
        How would I go about not receiving these privileges? And if I could figure out a way to do so, how would that benefit anyone else? I’m not trying to be antagonistic or dense – I truly don’t understand. Shouldn’t the goal be to lift all people up, rather than bringing some down?

        February 21, 2013
      • WillHunter #

        LT…
        I am glad you admit confusion. The idea of lifting people up is a false idea, which has been perpetuated by utopian idealists: “A rising tide lifts all boats.” This is predicated on the idea that the elevated status of one group, in this case “whites,” was some naturally occurring phenomenon, and is somehow due to chance, or happenstance cultural superiority, or an innate inferiority of “others.” The closest I have come to a visual that helps me “see” the race-oppression problem is the idea that the dominant culture is like a totem pole, and there are people standing on top of people. White males are given a ceremonial position above everyone else. Then it goes down, and down, and down, until all other people are cross oppressing everyone (I have male privilege, and you have white privilege. In some ways I oppress you, and in some ways you oppress me. The only way we can figure out all of this is to figure out who we’re standing on, and how we can all get off of each other’s shoulders without hurting anyone. We don’t want Mr. White to fall to hard. We need to help him down. And we need to remember it is up to us to listen to the people we are standing on for the best way of stepping off them. I don’t know if this makes sense, but there seem to be many people here who do not “get” the other things I have said. Here are some resources.

        February 21, 2013
      • WillHunter #

        Ahem, here are some resources:

        http://weeklysift.com/2012/09/10/the-distress-of-the-privileged/

        February 21, 2013
    • “How can we preach about the problems of racism yet, at the same time, generalize about an entire group of people in a way that blames and criticizes instead of advances greater understanding.”

      I think I have a better understanding of what these two poets think, which was in fact the purpose of the art. You are overreacting and need to settle down. It’s really just as simple as that. Also, I support the first amendment rights of these two young girls to express their view of the world, and I think it certainly trumps any pre-supposed “reverse racism” anyone in this thread imagines they are engaging in.

      February 19, 2013
    • Like Whites, hipsters or otherwise, have a monopoly on racism?! Almost everyone struggles against one kind of disadvantage or another–often multiples. I keep hearing about the privilege White males are blessed with. I wish I could find it. Was it Stokley Carmichael who called hippies “white niggers” in the 60’s? He was onto an important point: Oppression doesn’t limit its effects to color boundaries. Poor white trash get the same crap as any minority. I would know. -amicuscuria.com/wordpress-

      February 19, 2013
      • WillHunter #

        2:23

        February 19, 2013
      • WillHunter #

        “White” people suffer from racism by being granted race-privilege over other races, which de-humanizes “whites” as much as the “others” they then oppress. Any white claiming to be oppressed is not experiencing racism. They’re suffering from classism, or sexism, or heterosexism, or any of the other isms. Don’t worry, you still get to be oppressed. You just aren’t experiencing racism. Bigotry, maybe, prejudice, maybe, but not racism. “White” is the non-race which has the privilege to assign “others” as a “race.” Like I said, time to start over. All unearned privilege must be surrendered. This goes for “whites,” men, heterosexuals, and the classes which benefit from unearned class privilege. People may not agree. That is fine. The world was flat, and the center of the universe, at one time.

        February 19, 2013
    • JoeAverage #

      @WillHunter

      Well now you’ve turned this whole debate into a disagreement based upon semantics.
      Anybody looking to further contribute their brand of ‘logic’ to this discussion might make better use of their time by drinking gasoline instead.

      *Poof* and this entire discussion tumbles into obscurity

      February 20, 2013
      • openyoureyes #

        The link below is Peggy McIntosh’s article called “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack”…
        She states many simple ways in which unearned privilege is attained, and unless consciously trying to see it in oneself, a white person is completely unaware of it. This is real people. Open your eyes. And these girls know what’s up.
        @WillHunter, wise words.

        http://www.isr.umich.edu/home/diversity/resources/white-privilege.pdf

        February 20, 2013
      • The problem isn’t the video, or the concept of white privilege, but the privilege that goes unexamined. Picking ‘hipsters’ as somehow the embodiment of privilege (in the OP and comments) is used to mask and obscure the posters own privilege. It’s all quite self satisfied and pointless (And, as has been mentioned, the privilege of the women in the video, speaking on behalf of ‘Africans’ (re aid) engaging in their own ‘cultural appropriations.’) By all means highlight privilege, but highlight ALL privilege.

        February 20, 2013
  4. “Hipster” is a meaningless pejorative that describes a non-existent straw man. This is criticizing a group of people who don’t actually exist.

    February 18, 2013
  5. This was powerful and resonated. Unapologetic and unafraid. Brilliant.

    February 18, 2013
  6. Malkia #

    Well done Rania. I’m new to Dispatches from the Underclass but I am feeling this!

    February 18, 2013
  7. Such beautiful young women; so finely done

    February 18, 2013
  8. Raw, direct, effusive and illustrates how people of color FEEL. (And we don’t need a disclaimer for that – thank you).

    The fact that some are reacting “harsh” and so forth only shows how true this really is. Kudos to the performers and thanks Rania for posting this.

    February 18, 2013
    • Harsh? Seeing 2 people of any race, color or creed, single out another cultural group and express their resentment and outright denial of it’s credibility?? What is that called?? I’m pretty sure that is called “racism”. Perhaps the racism issue would move into a better realm the less we had to hear and deal with this kind of shortsighted, meaningless drivel. If these 2 really wanted to do something proactive – stop the slamming of what they deem to be ‘the problem’ and actually put that effort into solving what is the real problem…..the procurement of hatred between differing peoples and opinions. They just reinforce the very thing they are speaking out against. Good job!

      February 18, 2013
      • Nine #

        They are addressing the problem and doing something about it! They are raising awareness!

        February 21, 2013
      • Chris #

        You are exactly right. This is NO better than two white guys getting up and bleating about ‘Uncle Toms’.

        February 21, 2013
      • tupi #

        can you give me one example of how hipsters have been historically, socially, politically or economically disenfranchised as a group? didn’t think so.

        February 21, 2013
    • “illustrates how people of color FEEL”

      People of colour don’t FEEL any one way. Any more than white people feel a specific way. Or Muslims feel a specific way. Or Irish people feel a specific way.

      “I’m pretty sure that is called “racism””

      It’s not Roxy. There isn’t such thing as reverse racism

      February 18, 2013
    • rusty shackleford #

      Lol… “People of color” Were you born in the 20’s? I’m glad you are obsessed with people’s skin color, however today, normal people would describe someone as “women” and not “people of color” or “oriental” or what ever other last century terms you use. No one cares about skin color. Also isn’t white a color as well? wait never mind that is racist somehow. In fact the only way most guys would describe the girl on the right would be “hot”, not “colored”.

      Anyways your a moron with low self esteem. It’s obvious from your post. Your attempt at pretending to be smart is embarrassing. There was nothing “raw” about the performance , it was obviously rehearsed and was delivered poorly. Also no one in the world uses the word effusive, you try too hard. Haha “kudos” goes without saying.

      You are some yuppie from the burbs. I live in the real world. I’m young, I live Los Angeles, I went to Santa Monica High, and go to UCLA. I know about diversity. No one feels like that except hipster doofuses like yourself. Like spoken word “poets”. Unlike you I have a ton of black and hispanic friends (because your obsessed with people’s color) that live in the geto in Crenshaw and I go there all the time. You live a sheltered life. I don’t know why you want for there to be racism so badly, but it’s a thing of the past. The world has passed you by, deal with it. Make a difference as your a sipping your soy latte at Starbucks on your MacBook. Enjoy eating only things that don’t cast a shadow as your probably a level 5 vegan. Pity the poor “colored folk”.

      LOL Spoken Word is the most pretentious form of art for pretentious losers like yourself. It’s so ironic, literally the only people who like spoken word are hipsters. Lol just look at the hipsters performing it.

      February 19, 2013
      • Kp #

        Hello Rusty,
        It’s sad to see you haven’t read a book on race written since the 1920’s. The term “people of Color” has been used in academia for almost 20 years now. UCLA isn’t winning any points today. You also might want to pick up a dictionary because it is clear you don’t understand the difference between racism, prejudice, and bigotry (as many of the people posting here don’t either). It might be good for you to pick up a book on racial identity formation like “Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria” by Beverly Daniel Tatum, because if you are a white guy who thinks you understand your racially different friends (or the world for that matter) your living in some kind of bubble. You might also look into simple sociological data at Harvard that shows things like people with African American (like Malik or Jevon) names are less likely to be called back for jobs when they submit resumes than people like Tim or Michelle…or….Russell (Rusty) despite the fact that the resumes have the same qualifications. People who receive privilege are the least likely to see it and think they got things because they deserved them. We welcome you back to the real world where racism still exists…and even some of us who are white can clearly see that.

        February 19, 2013
      • eddikus #

        shackleford are you for real? I feel like you are this hilarious caricature of everything those two poets were talking about.

        February 19, 2013
      • KP, that’s shallow sophistry. Hiring agents typically lean toward applicants with whom they most identify. Racial minorities are no different in this regard. Perhaps you have an alternative more illustrative example?

        February 19, 2013
      • “Hiring agents typically lean toward applicants with whom they most identify.”

        Yes, that’s the point

        February 19, 2013
      • Rose #

        “I live in the real world. I’m young, I live Los Angeles, I went to Santa Monica High, and go to UCLA. I know about diversity”.

        I am starting a Los Angeles Diversity Task Force and our first project will be to convince everyone in LA that racism doesn’t exist. Will you serve on this committee as President? Your logic and understanding of critical race theory are top notch. And who said UCLA churns out spoiled morons who lack real life skills?

        February 19, 2013
      • Wendy #

        You’re laughable.

        February 20, 2013
      • Though I enjoy the Vegan slam at the end… Living where you are in the world and your lifestyle does not dictate SHIT! The hoods of China, Indonesia, Africa, South America, and Russia put your “diversity” hard knock like to shame…

        Perhaps you should consider “backing up” in life since you’ve apparently passed others by?

        Kudos and effusive are words… people who use them probably do this thing called “reading books” or at least consult the dictionary for it is a guide to the meaning behind the vernacular in which people of this arena, this forum can communicate smartly (without a lot of um’s and ahh’s in their minds as they try to be PRECISE in what they convery)

        Pick up a thesaurus and a dictionary… try coming up with something “raw” or “fresh” that intelligently and intellectually provokes others to see what you claim.

        Quit being so banal so I don’t have to be so anal.

        Merriam-webster.com

        February 20, 2013
      • Hmmm, seems you missed the portion of the poem that deals with this insane idea of, “I don’t see colour.” These remarkable young ladies explicitly stated that that concept nullifies a large portion of their identity and personhood. It’s a nice white thing to say, though, isn’t it? I have to believe the poets when they tell me that they feel invalidated but such statements and learn from their expressions of their experiences and feelings.

        February 21, 2013
      • KP, would you please provide a link to your data? The only research I’ve seen (http://www.chicagobooth.edu/capideas/spring03/racialbias.html) is credited to a UChicago prof and an MIT prof…

        February 23, 2013
  9. Reblogged this on thinksparks and commented:
    Hipster Racism

    February 18, 2013
  10. Personally, I thought the video was really good, but I can’t see how this caricature of hipsterism can be extended to a general critique of racism. It’s choosing to attack a pretty easy target to the detriment of analysing the drivers of gentrification, structural racism, inequality etc. People don’t like hipsters, fine. It’s understanable. But doesn’t get us very far

    February 18, 2013
    • And privilege needs to be looked at beyond this American prism; the privilege of living in the West, of being a citizen of the worlds predominant power.

      February 18, 2013
    • Speaker #

      Systems of any kind work at multiple levels and critiques need to be delivered at as many of them as possible to be effective. People run into the issues expressed here on a daily basis and its not like they don’t have an impact because they are just a part of the system and not the master cog. Should more energy be directed at larger issues? Maybe, but it still makes little sense to diminish work aimed at smaller, more specific concerns

      In fact hipsters are an excellent group to dive into because they have , at least superficially, a greater level of care in, for lack of a less troublesome phrase, making a difference than the remainder of the middle class. As someone who would could pretty easily be placed in the group I am undoubtedly biased but I honestly appreciate being called out and feel that a good number of my friends would as well. We didn’t go this route to get laid, we did it because we gave a shit. The trick is peeling of the layers of confusion that make us give a shit in the wrong way. That and routing out green/radical/feminist-washed individuals who DO put on the garb more or less for post high school popularity and sex.

      February 19, 2013
  11. Hakeem #

    I write as someone who grew up in the East End of London one of the most deprived areas of the city that, since the late 1990s, experienced what you have described in your blog. I know of entire neighbourhoods stolen from communities that had lived there for generations because the process of gentrification meant it was too expensive for them to live there. I remember the streets we played on as children that are off-limits to the next generation of our communities because they are full of “organic” cafes where unskilled writers hang out, or gallery spaces for rubbish artists and third-rate filmmakers/photographers to exhibit their filth. And when the English Defence League – a racist, homophobic, Islamophobic – organisation attempted to march through the area a couple of years ago (bringing to mind the Battle of Cable Street of the 1930s in which an alliance of Jews, Communists, Irish and other local residents fought a very real street battle against Mosley’s Union of Fascists and the police) and not one of these “new arrivals” attending the counter demo. Yes, the East End has had its fair share of immigrants; but every one of those groups, apart from the hipsters, has been a part of the area and established real links. What the hipsters have done is to create a separate tier, sitting above the East End but never participating in it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVmmYMwFj1I

    February 18, 2013
    • Oh come on. Shoreditch and Hoxton are hipsterish, claiming the entire East End has been taken over by them is laying it on a bit thick. You also have the money from The City, young professionals, and landlords driving up rents in the last decade. A little much to put all the blame on hipsters.
      When the EDL came they came for the Asian community, and it was primarily that community, from Stephney through WhiteChapel, that drove them out. Like their parents did to the NF. I’m glad the hipsters didn’t join in. They didn’t need ‘white saviours.’

      February 18, 2013
    • The Favelas of Rio–were they due to the White hipsters? It’s all about the $, folks. Tiger Woods has NO problem attracting pretty white ladies. Cast off your tired old ethics of persecution…or at least learn to identify them correctly. The truth, in America, is more like: “We here are all alike, and if any among us is different–let them be with others!”

      February 19, 2013
    • kittle #

      I agree that recent, gentrifying arrivals to some communities can be aloof (maybe because they fear coming off as the clueless racist hipster if they try to get involved–not saying that’s a good reason, just that it might be the case). I think Ronan might well be right that white hipsters didn’t come out on the counter-marches because they didn’t want to come across as patronising white saviours. Basically, they don’t want to be the people that Davies and Washington have a go at here, so they retreat. That’s not Davies and Washington’s problem (or the problem of anyone else who makes a similar point) they’re entitled to their invective, and it’s up to the hipsters to get over themselves. But what I’m really not sure of how writers and artists in cafés and galleries, even if they’re crappy writers and artists, are preventing kids hanging out on the streets, though. Surely much bigger problems there are (for younger kids) the dominance of streets by automobiles and (for older ones) the automatic suspicion by the police, shop managers &c. that any group of under-18s, especially if they’re not white, are up to no good. I’ll come clean, I’m a writer (unskilled? Dunno, 2 books published so far and 3rd on the way; no fame, no fortune) who sometimes works in cafés and often does things with visual artists in small galleries, so that did hit home. My experience has been that when artists collectives take over a space it’s usually a retail unit that’s been unlet for months if not years. OK, you’re probably helping some bastard developer somewhere limit his tax bill, but at least the place isn’t boarded up. Most of the collectives I’ve worked with are concerned with community outreach, and recognise hipster aloofness as a problem, even if they don’t always manage to deal with it as well as they might (often because funding is unreliable, and the ever-present threat of Tesco coming in and making a Metro store out of your short-leasehold premises.) Cafés–hmph, well I like the ones where you can get coffee for a quid or so better than the posh 3 pound an organic cuppa sort (see lack of fame and fortune above) but in my experience it’s the rare café owner who persecutes a group of teenagers for standing outside their premises, where high-street chain shop managers do that all the time. Maybe London is different — my experience is mostly in the north of England, Scotland and Ireland. Anyway, OT, really, blah, blah tl;dr.

      March 8, 2013
  12. I don’t get what’s so complicated about the targetting of white hipster culture as the space where various sorts of appropriation is initiated. People slumming it amongst various sorts of minorities whilst engaging in selective covering for their privilege by picking minority friends who’ll put up with it and bringing mitigated cultural property of minority groups into the domain of dominant culture is fucking widespread.

    I mean, some of my best friends are hipsters, but seriously surely it isn’t news to anyone that the privileged people turning various markers of marginalised groups into “cool” cultural currency (and initiating the gentrification process through similar means) and that the marginalised groups targetted by hipsters don’t necessarily benefit at all from the cultural appropriation going on or from being priced out of their own neighbourhoods and so on.

    February 18, 2013
    • “People slumming it amongst various sorts of minorities whilst engaging in selective covering for their privilege by picking minority friends who’ll put up with it”

      This framing is the problem. It’s so generalised and mean spirited to be meaningless. It might be true for *some* hipsters. It might be true for *some* general bystanders. It might be true for you! To target ‘white hipster culture as the space where various sorts of appropriation is initiated’ is a problem because it lets everyone else of the hook. If privilege should be examined, and it should be, then that examination should be more thorough, and should begin at home.
      As an addendum, and not as a gotcha or to troll, but would you consider, as per the video, the wearing of a dashiki by an African American as an example of cultural appropriation?

      February 18, 2013
    • Good job ‘Thesaurus’ – but what is your point? Do you actually understand the words you googled to write this? To me it sounds like “I don’t really have an opinion, or even an argument – but I will try to outwit all with my large vocabulary”. Look at the video – lets speak in the same tongue. Next time you are posting on an arbitrary 18th century literature blog – feel free to use words like ‘whilst’

      February 18, 2013
      • Get some culture… Hipster :-P

        February 20, 2013
  13. Sorry, that reply in response to the various commenters confused about the singling out of “hipster” subculture. It’s a mediator for cultural appropriation, it’s got a special role.

    February 18, 2013
  14. Really? Racism? Who are the real racists in this stereotypical “Oh whoa-as me, I’m black” production? Keep proving there is separation – and there always will be. Wake up and see what real people are like without “racism”. These 2 girls no nothing of the word. Too bad – nice performance, but wrong message. Moving on to the next “I’m black and angry” video…….

    February 18, 2013
    • Balthazaar #

      “Woe is me” not “whoa-as me.” “Know” not “no”- Some folks may use thesauri but you clearly need to use a dictionary. There may be a bit of vitriol in what they say but I don’t think it’s misplaced. The hipsterism IS the problem. It’s common knowledge that in places like Philly and Brooklyn (where I’m from) that gentrification is largely driven by hipsters. Sure, everyone needs a place to live, but in most cases, these are not people without options. Landlords will renovate spaces that have long been neglected for previous tenants, only after gradually increasing rent so as to render the space unaffordable for those living there. It’s a common practice to fix the space up ad lease it for as much as twice the original price. The poets here are not singling out white hipsters. They are singling out they’re complacency. They are singling out the appropriation of pre-existing cultures with little to no regard for the people who belong to that culture. They are singling out hipsters for living amongst marginalized groups of people but living separately at the same time. They are criticizing, it seems, the self-deception among hipsters that they are not driving people out of their neighborhoods, that they are not as cosmopolitan as they would like to believe. And yes, they are angry. Because hipsters fail to realize that their ignorance only further drives the disenfranchisement of certain groups of people. When you choose one lifestyle over many and it comes at a cost to others, you should be made aware.

      February 18, 2013
      • Well said, Balthazaar. The problem here is the refusal to acknowledge that they play any role, no matter how unintentional, in gentrification and cultural appropriation.

        February 18, 2013
      • But this ignores the context. The agency of African Americans, who were moving out of these neighbourhoods in the 70s and 80s. The both positive and negative effects of gentrification (viewing it solely as negative is generally an outsiders perspective) Blaming hipsters, of all people, for the long history of discrimination codified specifically to segregate US cities and hamper African American (and it is African American rather than people of colour) social mobility, which had the implicit support of the rest of the country, is ludicrous. There’s a lot of complacency to go around here..

        February 18, 2013
      • Natalie #

        *their complacency, not they’re complacency.

        February 19, 2013
      • ‘Cultural appropriation’?–WTF is that? Is it copyrighted? These sound like artificial counterproductive boundaries to me. Wolfman Jack was white. Should he be slammed for his radio persona sounding Black? Gimme a break! People are free to dress, talk, and walk as they wish. It’s not some middle ages monarchy where only the royals can wear purple or the gilds control how one may dress. Nobody ‘owns’ a culture. Nobody is entitled/excluded from ‘profiting’ from portraying a culture. Any playwright or producer or author who wishes to generate profits from telling the story of ANY culture/people may do so. Should women be prohibited from exploiting the story of a male athlete? Are male gynecologists exploiting women? If so, we’ve now entered the theater of the absurd.

        February 19, 2013
      • Colby Rasmus #

        There are two issues here. One is whether or not gentrification is good for the original residents or bad, economically speaking. I’ll propose that minor gentrification is good because it brings more money into the local economy without changing it. Widespread gentrification is bad because it changes the local economy, making rent more expensive and driving out small businesses (on the other hand, this increases wages and we all know that white people like them darkies and mexicans to do their grunt work). So clearly there are pros and cons.

        The second issue is more moral and thus less interesting because there’s no evidence or agreed upon logic to either side. Is it wrong for rich white people to want to subsume ethnic culture? What if you really like asian food, do you have to go to Panda Express or is it cool go and get authentic stuff. The idea that any one culture/ethnicity has a claim on an idea or on a style of life or on a neighborhood is racist or discriminate in itself. A lot of this comes off as “fuck these white crackers trying to experience our culture, they don’t know our pain!” Meanwhile, almost no one living today has actually experienced racism in such away they are harmed by the experience. They are no more lynching’s, no more jim crow laws, all of the racism that currently exists is dished out from both sides and any apparent institutional racism is just leftovers from the actual institutional racism that existed up until the past several decades. There are more black people in prison because more black people commit crimes because more black people are poor because more black families are poor because they have been discriminated against for nearly the entire existence of America. However the current 20 year olds do not know that discrimination.

        February 20, 2013
  15. White people move out of low-income neighborhoods = racism
    White people move in to low-income neighborhoods = racism

    Wow, white people can’t win.

    February 18, 2013
    • FoolishOwl #

      Simply put, I think the problem with hipsters, and with middle class progressives in general, is that they think they’re helping, but they’re not really doing anything at all. This is not a new problem. It was the same story with the punk scene, the hippies, the beatniks, and so on — each a lifestyle that was colored by loose association with some actual radicalization, but only very weakly.

      February 19, 2013
      • “is that they think they’re helping, but they’re not really doing anything at all. This is not a new problem. It was the same story with the punk scene, the hippies, the beatniks, and so on — each a lifestyle that was colored by loose association with some actual radicalization, but only very weakly.”

        Maybe they’re not helping. Maybe they don’t want to help. I’m not sure in what way any political ideology/identity is helping. What, in the name of God, do you really think hipsters could do? They’re to blame for not destroying the system? Well that’s a high f**king bar! (Punks were originally working class Brits to boot. The worlds complex unfortunately, not everything can be reduced to confirm someones prejudices)

        February 19, 2013
    • These girls are just that, young, inexperienced women sharing their views. Most of what they say can’t be classified as “feelings” since they’re bashing an “other” instead of describing their own personal experience of how some events make them feel – distraught, frustrated, enraged, tired that YES, THERE IS STILL WORK TO BE DONE.

      Since that’s not the case, they’re projecting their own work onto their “other” that ideally should have been shared & processed the moment it originally came up in a non-agressive, non-violent communication kinda way. This certainly does not achieve those ends, and even further drives a wedge between community understanding.

      Don’t get me wrong, all of us who weren’t raised in intact, healthy indigenous communities in harmony with the land has got some really important work to do. Does this piece shed light on how to move forward? Does this piece shed light on the emotional depths of either these girls OR their hipster counterparts, who equally yearn for some sort of meaningful place-based community pride – to be a part of a story greater than the few fed to them?

      The reason these equally dumb hipsters won’t take ownership over this non-sense is because they never wanted it, just like these girls never wanted it. The hipsters have been fighting the racism of society and of their parents their whole lives – even to the point of disrespecting their parents to learn a different culture – and SHOCK – feel proud of themselves, or “cool” as you put it for taking part in the struggle of figuring out how to get by and how to be themselves and how to integrate. You never hear this perspective because you have older racist whites condemning these hipster kids for not towing the line, which certainly ain’t empowering & often makes them insecure.

      If you came from an admittedly fucked up culture, wouldn’t you want to learn and adopt the best practices from other cultures? Why do some people believe that’s wrong? Doesn’t the fact that they left the suburbs to come hang out with you mean that they’ve admitted they don’t want to follow that prescribed path & want to learn from you? Maybe they will go back to the suburbs at some point, but at least they won’t be ignorant of the plight of the city and can ease that divide. That is if urban blacks ever take the risk to actually emotionally level with them & share the burden instead of blame them for their awkward seeking.

      February 19, 2013
      • Colby Rasmus #

        great fucking comment.

        February 20, 2013
      • oh i forgot hipsters hate free speech hear’s something you can do next time some of the supposed human race open’s their mouth ready for it stick finger’s in ear’s shove head up ass make sure you do it so every one can watch thank’s please vacate america and hope fully eject yourself in the nearest country i know guam is nice this time of year go there

        April 24, 2013
    • Yeah you said it right. The point is that the white people moving have the capital, the credit, the access to more capital, at lower rates. They have access to education and jobs. That was one factor in white flight in the 50s. It is the same factor in the white influx into the cities today.

      February 20, 2013
    • Nuñez #

      @Justin
      “White people move out of low-income neighborhoods = racism
      White people move in to low-income neighborhoods = racism
      Wow, white people can’t win.”

      That’s cause white people have been winning all along!! There is an important equation you are missing:

      White people have the access to move in and out of low-income neighborhoods with greater ease = privilege

      February 21, 2013
  16. Reblogged this on Hand of Ananke and commented:
    I haven’t reblogged anything on WP before, and I probably won’t again for a long time, since I prefer to keep this version of Hand of Ananke for my original posts. These young ladies, however, need to be shared, and often.

    February 18, 2013
  17. Natalie #

    *in and OF itself

    February 19, 2013
  18. Natalie #

    I’ve been aware of and have enjoyed Kai Davis as a spoken word artist for quite some time now. As a performance, I honestly don’t find this to be one of her most compelling. However, I suppose that’s beside the point.

    The funny thing is that I see everything being said in the video, in this blog post, and in the comments (from either side), as completely and totally reductive.

    I don’t really see the need to contribute to the conversation any further given the–forgive the pun–black and white mentality going on from both sides of this ‘argument.’ And, to be quite honest, I’m not sure how the tone of this blog (surprise surprise) is any more noble, respectful, or culturally sensitive than a hipster putting some change in a coffee tin for nameless, faceless children in Africa.

    Actually, both sides of this make me angry. I feel as though both sides are missing the bigger picture. And, on a side note (re: the video), I had a black cultural anthropology teacher stress to me YEARS ago that there’s only ONE race– the human race. So, I guess that black Ph.D. having hipster was WAY ahead of his time. That racist S.O.B.

    Anyway. Both sides suck. Sophisticated argument, I know.

    February 19, 2013
    • “I don’t really see the need to contribute to the conversation any further ”

      And yet you continue for two paragraphs?

      February 19, 2013
      • Natalie #

        Yes, I can see you all deal very well in specificity; I should have clarified as ‘beyond this comment.’

        Now, get back to your utterly meaningful and world-changing debate on an Internet blog–we all know that does A LOT for nipping racism in the bud.

        February 19, 2013
  19. I'm no expert... #

    “to be fair, as a white person” who has been trying to understand, for quite some time, what exactly the “correct” response is in the ongoing privileged dialogue. Am I allowed to join in, and, if so, am I allowed to disagree? Are educated people (some more so than others) allowed to disagree about complex issues social issues? What the heck, I’ll go for it. I mean, what harm could a white, educated man do? And I have good intentions (or, at least, not bad ones).

    People obviously feel strongly about this issue, and differently, but I would passively suggest that battling technicalities of who did what to whom first, or who occupies the worse position on the spectrum of privilege (or is it oppression) is confusing, and ultimately never-ending. (Hey now, don’t get defensive…)

    In all seriousness (ha), I don’t understand why hipsters get all the blame for being cool. I mean, it’s extremely difficult to conform so precisely to one exact set of completely uniform characteristics. Anyone who’s ever talked to one of “them” knows how hard it is to tell “them” apart. (You know who I’m talking about. When I say hipster, what image pops in your head. Don’t deny it!) You might even say they all look the same. Maybe it’s genetic. But I’d hate to claim anything without proper citation, so don’t quote me on that. I can’t understand how some people believe that being “hipster” is nothing more than fashion statement. They’ve obviously never heard of the rigorous indoctrination exams.

    But some more about me (in order to qualify my experience, right?). So I live in the suburbs currently, and I honestly can’t remember if that is “right” or “wrong” this week. And don’t really know the ethnicity of the person who built the house, what his pay was, or if he had health insurance (I’ve heard construction is quite dangerous). Does that make me a bad person? I should have done more research. What about the fruit I ate for breakfast? Was it picked by a 10 year old, working a 14 hour day?

    If only there were labels on more things: “Assembled by Asians (what’s the name of that large communist country again?) in a factory that burnt down, killing 100s, and expedited halfway around the globe, emitting hundreds of tons of emissions, which will raise the sea level….” You know, so everyone could know that the “truth” behind the phones WE use, food WE eat, cars WE drive, land WE live on, taxes WE pay to wage the wars WE fight by the people WE elect. It’s so easy to “forget” sometimes, so who’s really to blame?

    And I know the first several chapters of A People’s History were kinda boring with all of the rape, famine, disease, and genocide, but maybe the “hood,” as well as the much, much larger surrounding area, may not have be yours originally (maybe just a minor technicality). There have to be time limits on this kinda thing right? And I guess it was really hard to tell whose was whose before titles. And now that the papers say one thing you wouldn’t dream of giving back the land, especially when it’s been so long.

    And to be completely honest, every privilege that you enjoy as an American is rooted in the highly profitable slave system. So why not appreciate it? In comparison you possess so many more privileges than people from other countries. Not to mention the post-colonial policies that enrich your life everyday. Some days you’re the big spoon (nationality) and some days the little spoon (ethnicity).

    So yes, these women of color have every right (finally) to express their rage. And, of course, they should also have the right to make as much money as their male counterparts, so they can pay taxes to further unjust wars, and consume increasingly more in order to further carbon emissions that will destroy our planet. Hell, everyone should have the same oppressive rights.

    Okay I admit it, I’m a hipster, but only so I can go out of way to prove how unique I am. And don’t deny it, your only follow social justice issues so you can prove how politically correct you are.

    However, I did enjoy the “colorful” jab at the powerless fellow citizens (they’re so cool!) and not the powers in charge, so we can continue to be oppressed together.

    And finally my humble white American (mostly) heterosexual male suggestion: maybe we should all get our glasses checked (hipster or not), so we see past the next rung on the privilege ladder. (But only if a socialist’s opinion is welcome.)

    “What they refuse to grasp is that racism is way more complex than that.”

    February 19, 2013
    • Reading this in the tone of “snarky tact” sarcasm made it all the more enjoyable… Thanks Hipster!

      Wait… what am I saying? :-P

      February 20, 2013
    • Colby Rasmus #

      what the fuck did i just read? Is there a coherent point here?

      February 20, 2013
    • Nuñez #

      @I’m no expert.
      all I heard is: “Let me mansplain to you my qualifications.” and I’m saying that as a male (albeit a PoC genderqueer male). FYI look up mansplain if you don’t know it.

      You are so close to making some good arguments, but the fact is you don’t want to make any concessions. Someone else mentioned this me vs you mentality is counter-constructive.. and ultimately, it is. But we can’t go beyond that argument before you realize,

      1) yes there is a divide. first know yourself, your true best self, including all the privileges you’ve been born into. then get over yourself and over your white-guilt, actually, just stop being you and explore Life with Humility and Graciousness. so you can….

      2) Start to understand that divide!! (including understanding my side, living it, breathing it). If you are in my territory, you play by my rules. Listen to the angst in the voices of these brilliant poets. Their anger = “No I won’t explain to you in polite terms to make you feel better about yourself, you haven’t done that for me.” (paraphrased). that’s some meta-cognitive shit right there. If you still are intrigued, like that point in your relationship when you get angry but then you see the other person for the first time. then come with me and live it! (I would say I’ll live with you, but see, we already live in a world dominated by your power and privilege.. time for you to come to me, give yourself up to me and understand my own special powers that are not embued with your same privileges but some other culturally rich traditions that ACTUALLY mean something, not to be stolen)… then

      3) numbered steps rarely translate to the real world…. go out there, make a mess, but make a mess alongside your community and me. Wait for the community to accept you, be blessed by a full life of struggle (not just, hey, I’m a 20-odd year old hipster, I want to learn from you, and leave 1 year later). See, that rich tradition I shared with you is not a token that you carry around, something you can consume. It’s something you live with.

      then me = you… yay, happy world!

      FYI, this isn’t a solution and there isn’t one.. this is a dialogue, a highly emotional one because our power to be something special is at stake.. it is an on-going dialogue, everyday of my life!! If you can’t see that, then this is where the anger begins, I invested in you, exposed myself, and you leave me. (to tell the truth, I have already given you too much time, because you aren’t going to give me the same time in return). damn hipsters. (my words are highly tied in with the poets, there’s so much more entertaining. So don’t agree with me if you can’t agree with the poets.. they are my sisters in this world fighting for struggle).

      February 21, 2013
  20. Reblogged this on M2wa2 DigiTech..

    February 19, 2013
  21. J Seton #

    This is typical slam poetry becoming a caricature of itself. Artists this young trying to interpret and receive praise from academic critical race theory by attacking some hipster straw man will only further depersonalize the artistic form. And to any tuned ear will be glaringly inauthentic and cliche. Venues such as Brave New Voices are doing an injustice to spoken word and poetry when they reward young artists to conceive some litmus of faux-rage. It’s basically requiring these girls to amplify “angry black woman syndrome” for the sake of competition. Worse, they get applauded when no one’s even questioning that.

    February 19, 2013
    • The “angry black woman syndrome” you outline only serves to reaffirm that everyone should hear/see through the hegemonic white male gaze.

      Slam poetry is hard to hear at times b/c it cuts to the heart of the truth.

      Whether you like it or not is up to you – but don’t demand why every viewer isn’t only looking through your lens.

      February 19, 2013
      • to be fair i hate every one equally i don’t see race i see a bunch of pussies who didn’t make it in school and instead are now prancing around saying look at me whee god humanity is a fucking joke

        April 25, 2013
    • Well, ok, but they’re in their 20s. Hipsters are too. They’re all renegotiating their futures, and that’s important, because these folks are kind of like the elite of society already. They’re the top 25% who are going the run the show when I’m a senior citizen.

      I say let them keep working it out. My generation didn’t complete it. We made some progress, but there’s still more distance to go forward.

      February 20, 2013
  22. June Franco #

    Is no one going to mention that these two are essentially hipsters themselves? Kettle calling the pot bl…sorry , wouldn’t want to offend.

    February 19, 2013
    • Yes, and they are dealing with the issue of hipster-on-hipster racism.

      February 20, 2013
  23. blah blah blah #

    What? the word POSER doesn’t cut it anymore???
    “Hipster Raciscm” seems a little blown out of proportion dont ya think?
    funny, i i dont know if im white?
    Im half, but i was raised usa, but im poor, but i got a good education, but i work in the service industry, but ive always lived the ghetto, but ive never traveled to my ‘mother country’, but my hoods getting nicer?
    im confused, why dont you lay out my outfit for me.

    February 19, 2013
  24. YES! So eloquent and so true. Reminds me of the time I was living in a very hipster neighborhood. All the things these poets mentioned, I’ve experienced.

    http://PheOnixReview.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/oh-the-irony-a-word-on-racist-hipsters/

    February 19, 2013
  25. CaptainConfrontation #

    Hipsters suck, but don’t rip on somebodies hair when you didn’t even finish you own dye job.

    February 19, 2013
    • CaptainConfrontation #

      *your

      February 19, 2013
  26. Don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the level of blatant internalized white supremacy revealed in a good number of these incredibly defensive responses from white folks, which use a particularly violent form of communication to get their racist points across. I won’t begin to discuss the craft of poetry and the use of one moment, idea, etc. to speak to a particular experience. So the only thing – really y’all?!?

    From “letter from a birmingham jail” by MLK Jr.:

    First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

    I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

    February 19, 2013
  27. Dana #

    This article automatically assumes white people as the hipsters. I’ll tell you from experiencing different groups of hipsters from Vancouver to Tennessee (Van being the worst) they reach across demographics and race. In today’s world if you don’t think for yourself there are millions of people, corporations, and institutions more than willing to think for you. With a strong family and culture you can thrive from strong roots, if not you can easily slip away into the vicious winds of a culture spinning out of control. Lets not be so naive as to put a white face on something as complex as this hipster fiasco, it’s too late for that. As with many other toxic perspectives and modes of thought, it has mutated into a ‘Psycho Kinetic Disease’ in which we act out ignorantly while promoting infection. With no community how can we affect each others lives? In a city of strangers it’s simply none of our business. If you want to raise awareness don’t appeal to the darkness of our shadows or the absence of love if you will. Be strong, be an example, love, and love your neighbor. You lost me at the first casting of the stone with aggressive tonality.

    February 19, 2013
  28. Just an observer #

    I feel like people are looking for racism where there is not necessarily racism to be found. These people are not expressing hate or are cognitively trying suppress one race over another. In fact the fact that they borrow aspects from other cultures to incorporate into their own I feel almost opposes what racism is. Now one could argue they are stealing aspects of other cultures and “claiming it” as their own, but hipsters do not try and kid themselves of this, because they wouldn’t be fooling anyone. One should take the fact that they borrow from other cultures and incorporate it into their own as a sign that they really value that aspect of that culture (which they clearly do) instead of trying to find a reason to dislike someone’s particular action.

    This reminds me of a story when I was in community college in Seattle. I was in a English class and we had projects and presentations to do and give throughout the semester. An international student from Vietnam was giving a presentation on the Civil Rights movement and referred to African American’s as “blacks”. One student became really upset and exclaimed “Do you know anyone the color of your shirt?”, (she was wearing a black shirt at the time). To which she replied “No”. He responded “well it’s African American, get it right or get out”. She was not trying to be offensive, but it was construed that way.

    What I am trying to say is that racism will continue if we continue to see everything in this world in lines of race. Especially, when one wears glasses where all they can see is what they perceive as racial injustice. I think people will end up alienating themselves with this approach and it seems that you here have both alienated yourself with the main group you want to communicate with.

    And “surprise surprise” when you call anyone a racist you are going to make them angry (even those that are severely racist). These people are not trying to be racists, they are not trying to suppress racial minorities, nor are they trying to elevate the status of the “white man”.

    This is not to say we should be completely race blind, since I still think it is necessary use race as an objective term to try and break “bad” race boundaries. It is natural for people of similar culture and race to group together, we are more accepting of things that are familiar.

    If hipsters are anything they are “culturalist”, and believe their culture is superior to others and whether or not being a culturalist is a bad thing, is an entirely different debate.

    To end on a slightly funny note! In my community college class there was another student was doing a report on famous soccer players, and was talking about a famous African Scottish Soccer player. However, he was so nervous about not offending anyone that he referred to the person as an African American Scott (when he had no affiliation with the United States)!

    February 19, 2013
    • I’d approve this comment 20 times just to get it out of the negative…

      February 20, 2013
  29. Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette #

    I’d like to take this opportunity to remark that when I coopt and appropriate elements of other cultures, I do it with sensitivity and respect and wouldn’t ever DREAM of doing it piecemeal… Unlike, say, a U.S. American appropriating Western African kente cloth for her clothes without knowing a word of Asante and probably without ever having visited Africa, let alone Ghana.

    Isn’t the defining characteristic of hipsters their search for a faux authenticity?

    Looks like hipsters can come in a multitude of colors.

    And I’m pleased that these two sisters got up the courage to take a whack at hipsters. Hipsters are EASILY the U.S.’ favorite cultural phenomenon these days. Look at how well respected they are on the internet and in popular media of all sorts! Why, everyone loves hipsters! They’re almost as beloved as emos were!

    So it’s a bold, courageous and orignal step these young women are taking. I only hope they are ostracized for it.

    February 19, 2013
    • macunaima30 #

      Why ostracized? Because hipsters LOVE to be ostracized, of course.

      February 19, 2013
  30. Alison #

    I don’t understand “fighting racism” with blanket statement judgements against a specific group of people making assumptions about those individual people’s values and character based on the race and economic class that they fall under. I think this attitude is unproductive and leads to the opposite effect of what they claim they are fighting for.

    February 20, 2013
  31. Bonny Bear #

    I mean… these two are pretty incredible performers with amazing cadence and rhythm; and to be sure, racism and the subversion or exploitation of anyone’s culture is definitely something to be abhorred.

    But otherwise, I don’t get it.

    I imagine their piece is describing some person or persons they know or have interacted with (and assuredly that person likely sucks), but people with shitty attitudes and naive perspectives are people with shitty attitudes and naive perspectives… not sure how naming your cat “Ernest Hemingway”, or being in to vinyl plays in to that.

    Even just listening to the descriptions they give in their performance, this isn’t some concrete checklist of traits that can be used to positively ID a “hipster”. The whole piece is sort of just a laundry list of (generally) pretentious behaviors and alleged racist conversations (I REALLY hope these young women have never heard anyone say “Oh I didn’t realize you were black until just now.”)

    Anyway, sorry for the rant, but hating on someone because you think they fit the description of a word that doesn’t actually mean anything is just as fucking stupid as hating democrats/republicans, pro-life/pro-choice, or atheism/Christianity/etc…. By buying in to that kind of mind-numbing pablum (and thus alienating all your prole sisters and brothers) you’re only fucking yourself and letting the powers that be divide us up.

    February 20, 2013
  32. Sarah #

    This is amazing. I don’t even like slam poetry, but I loved this. As for the rest of the comments…I actually think I saw someone laugh at the term “person of colour,” as though it was outdated. Good to know that being “colour blind” is still a thing. /sarcasm

    February 20, 2013
    • Well it’s a US specific term. In Ireland it would be a pretty racist term. (And anywhere else I can think of) I personally think it undermines the very specific historical racism that’s been suffered by African Americans by trying to equate it with ‘all types of racism’ suffered by a multitude of demographics. But such is the nonsense coming out of the United States these days.

      February 20, 2013
  33. Ian Free #

    No such thing as a hipster really, other than a style of dress and mannerisms. Beyond that it is a stereotype that is based on a proximity of what it should look or act like. Do we label people based on what it (this supposed thing hipster) is supposed to look like. I have friends that have been called a hipster, simply because of the clothes they wear; at that point, they not even knowing what hipster was. Have we gotten so ignorant that we have started labeling people be their closeness of resemblance to a made up, stereotyped phenomena??

    February 20, 2013
  34. Agent Dale Cooper #

    Why are they lumping in the smelly street kids smoking weed in the park with the guys getting $90 haircuts? I think these girls should stop using the term “hipster douche” and just say what they really mean…”young white people.” I totally get the whole “hipster racism” thing, but I honestly didn’t feel like these girls were describing the same type of person in their poem. Especially the mentioning of seltzer water. Guess I have to start drinking grape drink and sunny-D or else I may be labeled a douche hipster. However, I do agree with the point they were making…as a white person.

    February 20, 2013
  35. That’s the thing about racism that these “liberal hipsters” don’t get, you don’t have to participate to benefit from it. As they point out, gentrification and our economic system are racist structures that provide benefit to those at the top (mostly white). Sitting idly by or undermining resistance by trying to temper activist’s messages is still a political choice, and an extremely dangerous one at that, because they try to pass their motives off as benign.

    February 20, 2013
    • Yes, this is something everyone (not only white hipsters) should realise. And Americans should realise the privileges that come from being born with a US passport. If you want to concentrate solely on hipsters or white liberals, then you’re not working very hard. What are we, 16 year olds in the high school cafeteria?
      Personally, I think two African Americans attacking developmentalism in Africa are displaying privilege. Using the politics of their own lifes to speak directly for people much worse of than them.

      February 20, 2013
  36. oddmanic #

    As a white person….

    Oh wait. My bad. My opinion is worthless.

    Progress. Ain’t it a bitch?

    February 20, 2013
    • Oh boo hoo. This whole thread has been white people (myself included) complaining. If you really think your opinion is worthless b/c your white then you need to get a little perspective

      February 20, 2013
      • your – you’re

        February 20, 2013
  37. Pedro #

    And then what??? In the end we all have choices some come easy for some… some come harder for some, and if we believe the axiom “what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger!” then there is only one way forward and that is self-realization with no concern for anyone regarding your life’s path. There is no law implementation, no course curriculum requirement at any level that will undo any wrongs done in the past. Ultimately it is your belief in yourself, and if you feed the other’s belief then their belief’s including their’s about you will inevitably will grow. Truth is truth and does not need to be spoken only shown. The Sun, The Moon and the magnificence of the universe’s adornment need no prelude…they simply are. And there are some that noticeably shine brighter than others. Yet night after night it seems that those less than brilliant stars are there shining all of their light perhaps waiting to finally exhaust in a final moment of wonderful brilliance as it explodes and another star is born. In the end it is your belief about steadfast yourself. Ex. Dr. Benjamin Carson Chief Director at John’s Hopkin’s, married to a black woman, (World Renowned Physician) to out into perspective for our times. All he needed to be successful was what he was born with and what he was born into was a completely disadvantaged start. My point is the more you try to cram something down someone’s throat the less receptive they will be toward it. It’s human nature… I believe that not the the disbelief in racism will bring about the solution to the ills it has created, but rather a belief in something bigger, stronger and beyond the level of the racism mentality perpetuation itself is the key to a transformed paradigm. Truth needs no parade… it need only be shown, and when it’s revealed in all it’s splendor it is the subtle aspects of it’s essence that liberate us.

    February 20, 2013
  38. jerrykil #

    u guys are gunna hate me but, as a white person, i think black culture has a lot of counter productive characteristics. there is a lot of gangster idolization, anti-intellectualism, inter and intraracial hatred, violence and…well i could keep going. I understand that history, poverty and oppression feed into cultural identity, so i want to clarify that I am not distributing blame. No doubt you will call me racist, and I AM. I am racist. i make prejudices based on race; asians like to take pictures, whites like to line dance, and mexicans like taco bell. Its a fact that we are different. We are not all created equal. However, we should not hate one another. Unfortunately this video is hateful. Clever, but hateful. The chief complaint of the girls is that hipsters…well…they just aren’t black enough. They don’t understand. As a jewish immigrant and refugee, i don’t think these black ladies understand what it means to be white. I don’t think they get the drive that a hipster has to try to understand the culture of the ‘underclass.’ Instead, these girls are threatened by hipsters shopping at their resale shops and gentrifying their neighborhoods.

    I understand what they have a problem with. I don’t understand what the want to change. Do they want the white privilege? Do they want hipsters to actually be poor, black, and unemployed? Maybe they are frustrated that with all the progress in equality, there are still major hurdles?

    In my understanding, racism, to a degree, is part of our code. We form tribes of about 100 people and our behaviors in these tribes are parallels to behaviors observed in primates. Apes commit genocide, wage wars, oppress, and rape. These are observable facts about higher primates, including humans! The lines that define our tribes can change, though. We can define tribes by skin color, because it is VERY easy. Skin color is obvious. We could define lines based on CD vs vinyl, or inheritance, or power, or social status, but it would be going against our instincts to go without these lines altogether. In the meantime we need to work on making our tribes more diverse. Rich and poor, black and white, male and female: this is the challenge.

    The ladies in the video have the right to be upset, but, as i often see with blacks, the rage isn’t organized and directed in a meaningful way. Hipsters, for all their faults, should not be attacked for trying to understand and relate.

    /honesty

    February 20, 2013
    • Sal B #

      How much are they really “trying,” as opposed to coopting the very best of other cultures without carrying the burdens that other cultures have? If you want to actually try and relate, RELATE, don’t mimic with some crude approximations of other cultures.

      February 20, 2013
      • It’s becoming a trend in a way….trotting out the word “privilege’ as if it answers every question and excuses non whites from their own brand of hatred. So tired of everyone – from all races – defending their own bigotry by labeling entire races with their predispositions. This poem – while entertaining and delivered with great cadence – typifies the cyclical hatred we see everywhere these days. Sad.

        February 20, 2013
  39. Paul Laverack #

    Black leftists go after white leftists—a classic circular firing squad.

    February 20, 2013
    • Sal B #

      You need to broaden your paradigms, brother. This isn’t about “leftists,” it’s about racism, which transcends all creeds, classes, and certainly political affiliations. It’s about how under-the-radar “leftist” racism can be by virtue of the supposed commitment to pluralism, and social justice.

      February 20, 2013
  40. Sara #

    To those leaving comments like this:

    “Black leftists go after white leftists—a classic circular firing squad.”
    “This is just folks from one group of people hating on another group of people.”

    These women beautifully expressed their hurt and anger about racism through poetry. They aren’t going up to people on the street and screaming, “You are all racists!” Please show them some respect.

    Bravo Kai Davis and Safiya Washington

    February 20, 2013
    • Sara #

      Oh… and to people leaving comments like? “u guys are gunna hate me but, as a white person, i think black culture has a lot of counter productive characteristics.”

      Please seek therapy. No I’m not being sarcastic.

      February 20, 2013
  41. EKFrance #

    I am conflicted about this. I am a white and thus incredibly privileged woman. First, I am not denying in any way that “hipster racism” exists, and that it is a particularly insidious form of racism because it is supposed to be “ironic” or well-intended, but ultimately does the same amount of harm. I understand this. But there are also deeper forms of systematic racism that do more damage than a young, ignorant member of a pretty harmless subculture. Focusing on hipsters (annoying as they might be) seems like blaming a scapegoat for a much wider issue.

    Second, I don’t believe that my whiteness (although a major source) is the only thing that constitutes my privilege. I also derive privilege from being a citizen of the Western world, from my upper middle class upbringing, from my heterosexuality, from my cisgenderness, etc. We can’t draw lines based on race and stop there. Privilege is incredibly complex and multilayered, and someone who is oppressed in one way can be privileged in another. Focusing on your own oppression while ignoring the ways in which you might be privileged is destructive and dangerous. As evidence of this, I find the poets’ deriding comment about being “13% Native American” highly offensive. Although I am not Native American, I have loved ones that identify strongly with Native American culture, even if they are only 1/8 Native American. To rob people who identify as Native American of this defining identity because you don’t think they “qualify” is blatantly racist and hypocritical. Just because you are oppressed in some way doesn’t mean you can get away with making derogatory comments about another oppressed people.

    Third, I am not convinced that many of the characteristics of a “hipster” lifestyle are necessarily bad. Many “hipsters” that I know are incredibly environmentally conscious and try to lead a life that hurts the environment as little as possible (biking, recycling, and yes, even feeding your pet organic food, which I do). Perhaps it is a position of privilege that allows us to do so, but I don’t think respecting the environment can be labeled as bad, let alone racist.
    I also know many so-called hipsters, myself included, that are engaging in real, well-meaning, educated, and inclusive activism. There are many “hipsters” that are deeply cognizant of their privilege, as well as systems of oppression that they contribute to, and many are doing their part to be an ally and help dismantle these inequalities. While I recognize that “fake” activism, like the Kony 2012 campaign, can do more harm than good by perpetuating antiquated, savior-victim perceptions, I know many hipsters that are trying hard to recognize and rectify their privilege through real, meaningful activism. Alienating these people, whether they’re white or not, is destructive.

    Fourth, many of the characteristics that earn me the hipster label are my way of reacting against my own oppression as a woman. Maybe dressing in tomboyish clothes and having short hair is annoying, but it is my way of bucking stereotypes of femininity that limit and oppress me. Expressing curiosity about other cultures in the world is not necessarily racist either, although it certainly can be. Learning about other ways of life can be eye-opening and transformative and can even help dirty hipsters form a recognition of their own privilege. I think it’s dangerous to assume that all hipsters are ignorant of their privilege. Most of my hipster friends are very aware of their position in the world and are doing a lot to transform their position as oppressor by seeking widespread societal change. Demonizing these people is not the way to go. Of course there are racist hipsters. There are racist people in all subcultures and societies. And I understand the need to vent frustration and anger toward “hipster racism.” I just think that it’s also important to avoid being hateful and similarly racist in doing so. Why fight fire with fire? Why work to dispel stereotypes by propagating them?

    February 20, 2013
  42. It’s all the candy bars I’ve ever eaten, drunk with unfocused resentment over how life sucks no matter who you are or want to be. How could it be any different with 7 billion sucking on the same pipe? Pink skin or white, brown, yellow or black, we’re all going to die looking back wishing we’d made things just a little easier for one another before leaving our earthly mother. Like the leaves on an autumn day, first we wither, then decay. -amicuscuria.com/wordpress-

    February 20, 2013
  43. I agree with pretty much everything in this poem. While I agree with all of their points all I would say is that it is a little too general, they are creating a negative stereotype which includes people who are not racist, but are seemingly judged along with everyone else in this piece, just for liking a particular type of glasses, eat organic or live in a particular neighbourhood.

    Not all of these people are responsible for gentrification, do things purely because they are dope and I personally think saying “I don’t see colour’ is the most ridiculous and offensive thing ever, yet I feel like I am included in this category because the stereotype this piece creates is too broad.

    Be aggressive by all means, but don’t villify people based on style, who probably don’t identify as hipster, who may like rap music for reasons that have nothing to do with trying to attain ‘cool’ status via attaching themselves to black culture by listening to rap.

    I personally love the lyrics in Scorpio by E.V.E.. Does simply saying this make me someone attempting to be cool by saying it? Are you not projecting that interpretation onto my statement?

    That said, I would muchrather this piece out there than not, it’s hitting a problem dead on in many ways and I say all this not as an attack but simply to further discussion

    Amazing performance.

    February 20, 2013
  44. MeeMee #

    I listened to a lot of hip-hop until I was told that I was co-opting African-American culture, so I stopped. Happy?

    February 20, 2013
  45. This post makes segregation seem like a positive thing? hmmm. . .

    February 20, 2013
    • I’m not following your logic here, doofus?

      February 20, 2013
      • colby rasmus #

        the post is arguing that gentrification is bad. gentrification here is defined as white people moving into black neighborhoods.

        February 21, 2013
      • Well then shouldn’t he argue that gentrification is bad rathe than segregation good?

        February 21, 2013
  46. karen #

    I think the real problem is upper middle class people with shallow, consumerist lifestyles, maybe connected to media, advertising, fashion etc. They’re mostly white. But there are black middle class people too, who also do their share to perpetuate the system. Which is mainly a system of power and exploitation, a racialized one, but one that’s not just a simplistic conflict between “black” and “white”, even in the US, much less the rest of the world where these categories hardly make sense.

    February 20, 2013
    • I think Smart Phones are the problem.

      March 7, 2013
  47. Individual #

    To begin a lot of the issues these young women raised were important and made me think twice, specifically about the concept of gentrification in various neighbourhoods and how that negatively affects disadvantaged groups and individuals. It’s important for those who have felt and continue to feel oppressed/disadvantaged by racism to have a voice and explain why and how certain actions affect them so that everyone can benefit.

    I, however, do have some concerns. The one thing I find disappointing about this piece is that it categorizes and projects negative attributes on to another group. Although it is human nature to categorize [See: Tajfel & Wilkes (1963) experiment on line categorization, which lead to the creation of social identity theory] and exaggerate the differences between groups. There needs to be a conscious effort to focus on the positives of individuals not the failings of groups. Not all hipsters are racist and implying this is an overgeneralization, negative in the opposite direction. Address the issue, don’t attack a group. Putting a comment like “I didn’t notice you were black, until just now” and liking Zooey Deschanel as an actress in the same category delegitimizes what these brilliant young women are saying and forces an audience who would benefit from their words to disregard it as personally attacking. Ironic racism is an issue and it needs to be addressed but in a way where everyone feels included to participate in the solution. Here’s another article from a university in Montreal that does a very good job at highlighting this issue.

    http://www.mcgilldaily.com/2013/02/of-race-and-privilege/

    February 20, 2013
  48. APerson #

    By listening to the video and reading all the comments we are all missing the big picture. Attacking each other and calling each other hipsters (and the young ladies in the video) is laughable and makes me shake my head as a human being. However, even it makes me shake my head I am no better than anyone. We all need to look deep within ourselves and how we contribute to the problem.

    February 21, 2013
  49. By all means people here can speak of leftist racism or class driven gentrification, but that would mean implicating themselves in systemic racism/classism, and we couldn’t have that, could we?

    February 21, 2013
  50. Rennie #

    I like this performance a lot, mostly because it’s raw and an expression of their honest feelings, how these “hipsters” make them feel. I respect that, and share opinions with them. From my experience, people who say they are not racist, are usually the most racist of all, without realizing it often. It’s a racial world and we all struggle with those inner conflicts, some people can identify that within themselves, and deal with it going forward. Some don’t and just hide behind “we are all the same” and “I don’t see colour” or whatever, much like the “hipsters” featured in these girls performance. However, what hasn’t been pointed out, is that these girls are talking about themselves as well. I would like to think that they identify that. It would have made this performance even more powerful if they put themselves on blast in conjunction with others. Remember, hating the word “hipster” is the most common hipster trait of all. (Just like racism, ironically). If you are going to call white hipsters out for not getting Hip-Hop and only liking ATCQ, well then dying your hair pink makes you a pretty easy target.. “Nice pink hair, very punk rock, what is your favorite Exploited record anyway?” as does wearing Buddhist prayer beads. This is what “hipsters” do, brilliantly pointed out by these obviously very clever young women, they take bits of other cultures and strip it of it’s deeper meaning, turn it into an ironic fashion look… and honestly, people have been doing it for ages, young people of all colours. It’s cool to point your finger at something that makes you mad, but you also have to be willing to point it at yourself too. -RF

    February 21, 2013
  51. tupi #

    you only learn when you’re uncomfortable. a lot of the defensiveness in the comments and in the white hipsters responses occur because your identity is being challenged. i grew up in the fillmore in san francisco and i had many friends of all different races. hipsters come in all colors. that doesn’t mean that they aren’t influenced by white supremacist and patriarchal culture. i watched my neighborhood slowly transformed, largely because (mostly) white hipsters gentrified it, artists, activists and all. north oakland and berkeley are experiencing the same issues. recognize what power you have and how you can be violent towards other people, specifically people of color and low income folks who have historically had less political and social power.

    power is complicated, but listening to those who are disempowered is a start.

    February 21, 2013
    • EKFrance #

      Gentrification is largely a socioeconomic issue, with deep racial undertones. Gentrification also isn’t violent per se, and it definitely is not intentional, at least not on the part of “hipsters” themselves. It is an economic trend that, unfortunately, further marginalizes the poor. But telling hipsters not to move into poor neighborhoods isn’t ever going to stop gentrification. It is a system-wide problem that requires a system-wide solution. You see the same trends in large cities in developing countries with mostly homogenous populations. Blaming those you think are responsible for a problem you clearly don’t fully understand is immature and unhelpful. If you’re looking for someone to blame for gentrification, start with your local politician, your city manager or mayor, business owners, landlords, and people in authority positions. Young, sometimes ignorant hipsters aren’t the decision-makers, and I bet many of them are working to address these very problems in their academic, professional, and even personal lives (even if you don’t like their style).

      February 21, 2013
  52. last echo #

    If all privileged classes and races woke up tomorrow morning with a full and clear understanding of their own privilege, I wonder what would actually change?

    February 21, 2013
    • EKFrance #

      Everyone is privileged in some way or another. What about privilege based on sexuality or gender or gender identity or able-bodiedness? You’re putting people into very strict boxes. Of course it would be wonderful if everyone was aware of their privilege, but it certainly does not stop at class or race.

      February 21, 2013
  53. Great video, skilled poets. But it would like it if the audience would keep quiet until the end…. then scream and cheer

    February 21, 2013
  54. Reblogged this on Kingdom Living: and commented:
    I wish the sound was better, but even as it is this is a remarkable poem, performed very well.

    February 22, 2013
  55. Warren m. #

    Wow! I commend these young ladies for having the strength and conviction to engage the issue in such a way. I think it does exacatly what it is ment to do, whether people like it or not. The Idea that people are so turned up by it(in comments and in audience) proves that there IS an issue!
    Although I appreciate this performance and its message. Their intension comes off more “Fuck you” than “Listen to us”. I feel like this is why people are so resistant. It is always a challenge to educate others on an issue(especially regarding race) that you are so invested in and connected to, without making them feel uncomfortable, belittled, hesitant, angry or the like.
    I can attest to this as a Native American living in “today’s” America, it is a constant battle to maintain my culture and Indigenous identity. No Matter how much we appreciate our identities or make statements like “I AM” Black, Native, Asian etc, we are all products of a shared history of genocide, gentrification and cultural exchange. Even as a person directly connected to his heritage through participating in cultural practices and still residing where my ancestors lived 1000 years ago, to say that I am full Native is a FALSE statement. The fact that I dont live in an adobe home, I speak english as my first language, like Zoey Deschanel; proves that I am also a product of the world around me. It is never possible to become only Native again. In the more literal sence, because there is “Mexican” in my lineage(Most likely even Anglo and black) to say that we are black or Native or White or Fuckin Purple is denying the percentage of me that isnt! Which in turn is not being genuine to who I really am. I only speak to this point because the thoughts that these ladies are provoking is truly complex and not so easily delineated, as long as this nation continues to be a melting pot of numerous cultures and perspectives. Our culture will always be evolving. Only with intention and thought will we maintain the connection to what is real and who we are for the sake of our people(all). Lastely, it is most definantly important to take ownership and responsibility for your culture and to promote a proper way to participate within it and to educate any and all who are not of that culture(and even some who are!). These ladies do this in an incredible way. It is also important to recognize that no one type of person is responsible for the issues regarding race or culture. Everyone is responsible.(Minus the soap box) Thanks

    February 22, 2013
  56. Warren m. #

    I DO LOVE THE SECTION ABOUT ANIMALS!!! HAHAHA For real!

    February 22, 2013
  57. Dane #

    It seems to me the vehemence with which people attack the “hipster” stereotype sometimes has to do with defending themselves against the feeling that they’re “hipsters” themselves, or not as “cool” as they think they are. A lot of people, black or white, are comfortable, middle class, drink “raspberry soda” or something similar, listen to rap music that’s maybe not “cool,” eat organic food, read anarchist literature but maybe aren’t super activists, or whatever else these girls think they’re railing against. I’d like to know what these girls are doing to fight systemic racism and capitalist consumerism. Self-righteous rants like this don’t do much, in my opinion.

    February 22, 2013
  58. Most hipster would agree with every thing you say about racism priviledge then go onto an tell you to go “eastwood yourself”. Which means your rightous self indulgence was a waste of time. In the realm of what it means to be a human being in 21st century: what are the ethical principles your giving leadership to the whole country and the cultural revolution, igknowledging thus transending race class anger hate dehuaniziation to a new american dream of love hope caring sharing. Most apolitical white folks see it as a matter of class “you” getting their loot. Why most americans black and white have ignored our leftest friends over last 150 years.For the next american revolution. http://www.boggscenter.org Larry Sparks

    February 22, 2013
  59. Jon #

    How does generalizing a group of people and using a pejorative term help people come together? It just perpetuates the problem.

    February 23, 2013
  60. Reblogged this on j david osborne and commented:
    WELL DONE.

    February 23, 2013
  61. the people getting mad at this video are white hipsters who fit the bill in the poem. so in that sense the poem is even stronger and funnier…LOL

    February 23, 2013
    • letsbelove #

      the poem is not funny. it’s hatespeak. the more people buy into the us-against-them mindset, the longer oppression continues.

      of course racism exists and of course blacks have historically been targeted with disgusting and vile acts by ignorant bigoted fucks. but whites as a group are not the enemy. oppression exists in many forms all over the world and guess what? it’s perpetuated by HATESPEAK.

      these are important issues and it’s so valuable to have these conversations, especially those which alert privileged groups to injustice they may have otherwise been unaware of, but alienating people, making fun of people for “having black friends”, and saying “shut the fuck up–you’re white” do very little in the way of ending oppression and building bridges.

      February 26, 2013
    • Jon #

      Way to generalize anyone who doesn’t agree with you. Good job being a part of the problem.

      February 27, 2013
  62. awesome. I fit the bill on some, but whatever. THAT WAS AWESOME.

    I think y’all hit the nail on the head with a LOT of that, and I think MORE PEOPLE CALLING OUT MORE WAYS people hide their racism under their individualism is wonderful.

    People who don’t like this video are just selfish fucks. GET OVER YOURSELF. THERE IS A WORLD BIGGER THAN YOUR cultural references and bruised egos.

    well done. thanks for sharing.

    February 24, 2013
  63. Liz #

    I was scared to watch this and with good reason. cutting. Emotionally evocative. Great poetry.

    February 25, 2013
  64. Reblogged this on thebeccranford and commented:
    dang.

    February 27, 2013
  65. If someone really wants to be an ally, they need to listen when people talk, as these articulate and genius young women are doing. I’m white, I grew up poor, but that doesn’t exempt me from privilege. I hang my head in shame at what people who look like me have done. I can’t explain it or try to defend it. All I can do is listen, and try to change the places in myself that might have been brainwashed by a racist society, or might benefit from privilege, and most of all, try to reach a hand out when I can, but be willing to hear the words of someone who may not want me to help, who might not want what I have to offer. All I can do is show up and be present. I am glad someone shared this with me. I learned a lot. Thank you.

    February 28, 2013
    • I am with you @E. Pringle, listening to this amazing spoken word makes me feel uncomfortable. And I need to ask myself why? Own my uncomfortableness. I am a white privileged young woman. I don’t live in America, I am not middle or upper class. But I am white. We all have to be aware and understanding in our privileges, of our histories.

      I am really thankful for this video, blog post and comments, for the fact that there is dialogue. If the world was silent, I would be scared.

      March 5, 2013
      • oddmanic #

        Naw man. Most of these comments are bullshit.

        Dear black people,

        For the first 3/4 of my life people called me a wigger. I’m 36, loved hip hop since I was 9 and have a good grasp of what white privilege means. In turn, I also know what it doesn’t mean.

        Being born white does not mean I also have a whip in my hand. It also guarantees me nothing. Yes, I understand I have a leg up, but this ain’t the old days anymore. People need to understand something crucial to moving forward as peaceful people. I am not born with the slavery version of Original Sin because of my skin tone. You are not born with chains.

        So when I hear a couple of poets dismiss a white person simply because they are white, I may find it powerful but I do not believe it is the correct response.

        Not all black people are obedient servants. Not all white people are whip holding racists. Let’s try to be real here.

        Privilege exists for white folks like me. But it doesn’t mean we take advantage of it. Peace…

        March 5, 2013
      • How exactly do you avoid taking advantage of privilege? It seems like you have no idea what you’re talking about. When you’re offered a job do they tell you there was also an equally qualified black applicant who was turned down? Of course not, because even the person offering you the job wasn’t able to put his finger on his own implicit racism and realize what was the driving force behind his decision.

        Also I think this poem is directed very very specifically at certain people, it doesn’t suggest anywhere that all white people are racists. Although it would be perfectly reasonable to do so, why don’t you take an implicit racism test and find out what I mean.

        March 7, 2013
        • oddmanic #

          If black people aren’t automatically born with chains around their wrists, then white people aren’t automatically born with whips in their hands.

          This bullshit about being white is like being born with original sin is the exact same tactic of racial bigotry that put black people in chains to begin with. You can’t have it both ways. Is the system white? Sort of…it started that way. But the system is now green. Example: Let’s say me, a white guy, wants to get something done politically. And then a black guy wants to do the same. The system listens to the person with a bag of money, not the skin tone.

          Because if any of you here believes that being white is a free pass to a great life, then you suffer from what you accuse other people of having: a tendency to blanket an entire race with one characteristic.

          History sucks, but none of us live there anymore…and none of us deserve to be tarred and feathered.

          March 7, 2013
  66. sarah ginger #

    are hipsters only caucasian? not in my experience…

    March 1, 2013
  67. Ouch, I never know what race someone is, that’s not because I want to deny their heritage it’s because I’m crap with that sort of stuff. I don’t know why. Now I know not to let people know I didn’t know what race they were until they mentioned it. Thanks.

    March 7, 2013
  68. GF #

    That italicized print is a massive generalization. Not all “hipsters” are well-financed and white. Sure, people that use the N word “ironically” are scumbags, but then again, so are all the people that use it as a double-standard. As far as “co-opting” culture in a non-derogative sense, the idea of ethnicities laying claim to cultural tropes is silly. African-Americans don’t “own” any form of art or expression and neither do anglos. Co-opting culture/concepts and synthesis thereof is how art evolves. Do these girls feel the same way about Paul Simon?

    There are plenty of impoverished caucasians who have lived their entire lives in Detroit, Memphis, Savannah, Jackson MS, Birmingham, and New Orleans and are more than likely befuddled when they are confronted with the lingering angst that comes from being a disenfranchised minority.

    March 18, 2013
  69. AJ #

    I find this video, like many people, to be nothing short of amazing. I’m a young woman in her twenties and it hit me last year, like I believe it should hit all white people, “I am really fucking racist, I really need to fucking change that.” Despite growing up with a little sister who was half-black and being deeply surrounded by black culture, it dawned on me that I was racist because that is what white culture has engrained in me. It had nothing to do with my parents, and yet, everything to do with them. My parents never said anything that seemed outright racist to me, but all white people are racist until they begin to accept (and change) that fact, and anyone who argues otherwise is probably just… well, racist! So I set out to change me, aggressively, and am I still doing so today. I didn’t ever want to cross a wrong line in my life again. And then I set out to change others, although much less aggressively, since I don’t totally believe that’s my place. But sometimes, I think it’s acceptable for me to do — for instance, I moved in this semester of college with girls who I did not previously know, but their racism astounded me. I have called them out on it and told them why it was unacceptable from the first day I noticed it. (Don’t worry, I don’t think I’m some white hero, and I know that black culture and combating racism can get by just fine without my help, but this racism [and outright ignorance toward it] that we white people have is something that frustrates me and I can’t sit back quietly anymore.) They used all the typical lines when I would call them on it — “Well, I’m from the South, I have a ton of black friends!” / “I say nigga all the time with my black friends and they love it/me!” — just the common stupidity, that I know even I was guilty of in the past. I don’t call everyone out like this, mind you, I just couldn’t stand living with people who were so completely disrespectful and ignorant. I’m not saying I’m perfect, I still slip up on the racist side of things… and my little sister is the first person to pop me in the mouth when I do. But I’m trying to change, because this is a culture that doesn’t deserve to still feel oppressed by white stupidity and privilege anymore, and especially not by my own.

    March 30, 2013
    • This comment is so good, I’m giving it a post of it’s own. Thank you so much for your insight AJ!

      March 31, 2013
  70. justaminute #

    When did the word “hipster” become an alternate word for “yuppy” or “gentrifier”? Hating or blaming groups of people en masse seems self-defeating.

    March 30, 2013
  71. I like this video a lot.

    I think it makes some unfortunate generalizations, though. As someone who really would probably at least in some ways fall into that hipster category and who has friends who would as well, let me point out a couple things:
    1. most of the anarchists I am familiar with personally (myself included) are much more aware of intersectional issue importance than their nonanarchist counterparts. i.e. we understand that our beliefs on political organization are directly tied to class/gender/race oppression are directly tied to environmental issues etc. I get what was being talked about with the anarchist literature thing, but this generalization is not necessarily accurate on a whole. at least in my empirical experience; I cannot speak for everyone.
    2. on the environmental thread– animals, etc– not that I totally disagree with the situational analysis, but these are actually really important issues and as I said in #1, if addressed properly are directly related to the kind of oppression the video was talking about

    I had a couple other minor issues but all in all good critique of society

    March 31, 2013
  72. tai #

    i think hipsters only do one bad thing, and that’s move into what were once less expensive places to live and drive up the cost of living. Not by having jobs themselves, but using their parents money to pay rent for a year-plus in where ever they live. But even then that’s not so much their fault because they’re new to the “real world” as it is landlords knowing that they can milk these kids for their parents money while they try to establish themselves. I’m not a hipster fan, but i like that they wont cross the street when they see me coming. To be more fair, microphones weren’t invented in Africa, nor were most enclosed structures, everyday clothing, the internet, sounds studios, radios. All things we use daily to express ourselves, but never acknowledge that other cultures state of being lead to their creation. As a darker skinned person myself, i can say we usually don’t admit that we do the same borrowing of ideas without learning the history (where are the huge numbers of black engineers making studio equipment and learning about technology), but we complain when others borrow some of culture without learning its history. It’s really just human nature to see what’s available and use it to be yourself. Now, I’m not a huge fan of hipsters because of their nature (black hipsters included) but we shouldn’t be distracted by their existence. People with Beck’s and Limbaugh’s state of mind is still the BIG PROBLEM.

    April 13, 2013
  73. Um…let’s just calls this what it is…an infantile rant that utilizes infantile concepts and buzzwords, all derived from a fear of anonymous others. Now, they are obviously young, and with a certain degree of talent, so I’ll certainly give them props for doing this, but, alas, the slaves patrol the slaves patrol the slaves patrol the slaves patrol the slaves and so on and so on to sons and daughters. I do hope these two continue to express themselves as they develop and hone their craft and consciousness.
    “Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.” – Bill Hicks.

    May 3, 2013
  74. David #

    When I listen to this performance it recalls, as do many slam performances, a trenchant criticism of the style, which Jon Davies gave in an interview. He said:

    “[slam poetry] marches the young onto the stage with nothing but venom, broad gestures, and a head full of hackneyed abstractions and then rewards them with applause. The pleasure of such instantaneous acclaim so easily bought is piping our talented youth into the hills away from the village of study, hard work, and accomplishment. It strikes me as a new species of child abuse.”

    I am inclined to agree with him– indeed the pair’s poetry suffers and (more significantly) it’s emotional resonance quickly fades as a consequence of it embracing sensationalism and sarcasm rather than craft and more subtle (but sharper) irony.

    Still, I wonder how others may feel about this. So please share your thoughts.

    May 18, 2013
  75. D. Lozano #

    Would you get cool points for being only 13% African?

    June 2, 2013

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