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This Week in Racism

"Royals" by Lorde Is Not Racist

Lorde, the 16-year-old pop singer from New Zealand, has conquered the charts with her song, "Royals." Now a blogger has come out claiming that the song is racist because it degrades black "bling culture."
October 4, 2013, 8:15pm

Welcome to a special "You're really stretching the definition of racism" edition of This Week in Racism. I’ll be ranking news stories on a scale of 1 to RACIST, with “1” being the least racist and “RACIST” being the most racist.

- I'm guessing by now that you've all heard of Lorde. She's a 16-year-old pop sensation from New Zealand whose song "Royals" has taken American airwaves by storm. She's precocious, the song is ridiculously catchy, and the New York Times raved about her live show. Naturally someone had to come along and take a big, steamy poop on her immaculately coiffed hair. Veronica Bayette Flores of a blog called Feministing seems to think that "Royals" is racist. Her reading of the song's meaning couldn't be more simplistic:

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While I love a good critique of wealth accumulation and inequity, this song is not one; in fact, it is deeply racist. Because we all know who she’s thinking when we’re talking gold teeth, Cristal, and Maybachs. So why shit on black folks? Why shit on rappers? Why aren’t we critiquing wealth by taking hits at golf or polo or Central Park East?

Could it be that there aren't any songs on the radio about golf or polo that 16-year-old girls listen to? Why would anyone assign their own cultural baggage to someone who isn't even old enough to buy cigarettes in America? Also, are "Jet planes, islands, [and] tigers on a gold leash" or "Blood stains, ball gowns, [and] trashin’ the hotel room" black things?

Flores goes on to say that "several, no, many people listened to this track, and saw no problem with it at all." Hmm. Interesting. I wonder why? "I don’t have to explain why wealth operates differently among folks who’ve grown up struggling." Actually, maybe you do. Hip-hop used to be about the celebration of the struggle for black people to escape the ghetto. It was about "making it." Now, it's about what you do after you make it. That's all fine and great, but does a teenager from New Zealand relate to that? Of course not. Maybe she'll understand Veronica Bayette Flores's dime-store cultural criticism better after she's… gone to college. Why should anyone be surprised that the proliferation of pop songs about conspicuous consumption would get tiresome eventually? I don't care what your race is, the number of people in America that have even seen a Maybach (or can pronounce the word properly) is miniscule. "Royals" is NOT RACIST.

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Please note that the last govt shut down was with the fake black president Clinton. Now they are have a real black president to mess with.

— ProfB (@AntheaButler) October 1, 2013

- In other "Are you SURE this is racist?" news: the United States government has shut down, a woman tried to drive through the White House gates, and pundits across the media landscape are asking why it's come to this. Well, a University of Pennsylvania associate professor of religious studies, Anthea Butler offered her two cents via Twitter. She's not alone in theorizing that there is a racist element to the GOP's insistence on cockblocking every policy effort by the Obama administration. Salon.com's liberal-outrage zombie robot, Joan Walsh is of the opinion that the government shutdown is the continuation of 50 years of Republican race-baiting. She invokes the now-infamous interview where Lee Atwater, one of Ronald Reagan's key strategists, describes his thoughts on the reasoning behind many key elements of the Republican platform at the time. In the interview, Atwater says:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “N–ger, n–ger, n–ger.” By 1968 you can’t say “n–ger” — that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites … “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N–ger, n–ger.”

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Walsh follows that up by saying, "And then you say 'Defund Obamacare,' and everyone knows why." I get that Americans want answers. We all need to understand the rationale (if there is any) behind hitting the breaks on the government and putting people out of work. Claiming that it's all a giant racist conspiracy implies that the entirety of the GOP policy platform is based on hating minorities. It's hard to make that theory stick when the notorious "Southern strategy" hasn't even worked on a national level since Reagan. George H. W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court and George W. Bush was speaking Spanish on the campaign trail, nevermind the two-term electoral successes of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. There's certainly an element of the Republican party that foams at the mouth, eager to make racially insensitive remarks about President Obama, like Newt Gingrich calling him the "food stamp president." This budget impasse is a policy disagreement, though. Republicans intrinsically believe that Obamacare is a greivous legislative error, and Democrats will defend the bill they got passed because they think it's the right thing for America. If the president was white, Hispanic, Asian, or a Klingon, Republicans would still hate the Affordable Care Act. The government shutdown gets a 2,and that's only because of the less-than-savory history of the "Southern Strategy." Also, I imagine Joan Walsh tied up in a basement somewhere, forced to type maniacal screeds, like a liberal blogger version of Jesse Pinkman in the last episode of Breaking Bad.

Stay classy #Indians fans! (h/t @corkgaines) pic.twitter.com/9QHYcUGFBR

— MLB Memes (@MLBMeme) October 3, 2013

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- A group of Cleveland Indians fans who wore red face paint and feather headdresses to the team's Wild Card playoff game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night will do nothing to quiet those who are critical of professional sports organizations that use crude caricatures of Native Americans as mascots. In addition to the Indians, the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Braves are often the target of scorn for sticking with branding that, while perfectly acceptable when the clubs were formed, is now widely seen as embarassing and racist.

One wonders what was happening in the minds of the three gentlemen in the above photo. Could they have been thinking of bolstering their team's chances at postseason success by dressing as obnoxiously as possible? Were they hoping to get their faces on TV? Was it some sort of dare or the result of a lost bet? My guess is the only thing going through their heads at the time was "BEER," and the unintended consequence of coming off as hopelessly racist was not even on their radar. All I know for sure is that getting gas on the way to the stadium was not fun for them. 8

The Most Racist Tweets of the Week:

I try and not be totally racist but then u run into a loud obnoxious nigger and its like nah I'm good.

— billy friggins (@BillyFriggins) October 4, 2013

I'm not that racist, but seriously, fuck all of you Asians that still wear the surgery face mask. The SARS outbreak was fucking 10 years ago

— darklord (@taymit_) October 4, 2013

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Some nigger that's rapping to shitty lil wayne songs sitting in front of me in the bus just called some girl a cumguzzler what the fuck bro

— Nathalie (@naaaaaats) October 4, 2013

Fucking coons. If its not your shit don't touch it. It must be like nigger instinct or something to screw with someone elses shit

— Caleb Overstreet (@caleb_h_o) October 4, 2013

I could never date a "beaner". #SorryNotSorry

— Marissa (@SamayoaMarissa) October 4, 2013

White people ruined my life

— sadgalriri (@SamerSum) October 4, 2013

Last Week in Racism: Forever 21 Wants to Sell Hip-Hop Shirts to White Kids

@dave_schilling