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How to Know If You Are a ‘Hipster Racist’

Take it from me, your black friend, I know the signs.
Images via: Wikipedia Commons 

If you don’t already know, Zinzi Clemmons, writer for Lena Dunham’s feminist newsletter, announced her resignation on Sunday shortly after Dunham defended fellow Girls writer-producer, Murray Miller, who actress Aurora Perrineau accused of rape. Clemmons went on to claim that she "ran in the same circles in college” as Dunham. “Back in college, I avoided these people like the plague because of their well-known racism, I’d call their strain ‘hipster racism,’” she wrote.


In the colourblind-ish, post-racial, white tears era, I know the strain intimately. They’re the apologists and the #alllivesmatter hashtag busters before the storm. The sort that Kanye and Drake stan their way into the culture while getting eight syllabled brews from Starbucks. They’re the completely non-racist of all racists. They’ll often murmur their non-racial tendencies to themselves at night after their all-white crew joked about the use of the N-word: how it’s completely cool, because it’s supposedly so ironic; fuck that My Nigga, YG censorship, they’ll say. And of course, they have a black friend, me—the ultimate key to the racially sensitive mint that excuses it all.

This is the hipster racist Clemmons speaks of, and I’ll speak for the majority of black folks in saying that we dislike you almost more than the hick that brandishes “nigga” like a sword. But hey, if you’re not sure if you fit the mold, here’s how to know if you’re a hipster racist.

You have a ‘black friend’

I’ve been that black friend, many times, and as a hipster racist, you’ll need one too. At times, our roles can be that of the teacher. You can ask us the most ignorant-ass questions you’d never ask a stranger. It’s our role. Universally unanswerable questions can now be answered like, do ya’ll really love chicken and watermelon that much? To which I’ll tiredly direct you to a Dave Chappelle joke. You should do uncharacteristically foolish things like fist bump your black friend, or reply with an “aight” when you damn well know, but still ignore the fact, that you don’t usually say “aight.” And use my name like a shield every time you say some “unintentionally” racist thing. Of course, you can expect the black friend like me to pat you on the head, and repeat the words, you’re not racist, you’re my friend until you can sleep at night. And like a test-tubed black man, racist jokes in our vicinity always are free for experimentation. Just give us the side eye, and at the moment of protest scream, “I’m just joking!”

You play devil’s advocate

If you’re white, the words, “To play devil’s advocate…” may have come up; and it means you’re already on your way. Maybe it was around a discussion regarding black lives, Colin Kaepernick, or white supremacy, maybe you didn’t even say the words but hid it behind an opinion piece: "Not saying I agree with this, but check out this link here, some good points, maybe?" Just know that what you did was dangerous, and borderline grimey. It’s always good to reduce racism to a political disagreement. One that has a completely unreasonable solution for one side. You’re already being disingenuous from the moment you tried to justify your logic over black safety. So go all out with the mental gymnastics that tiptoes and reduces white-supremacy and issues like it, to a bullshit experiment of exchange. Be as Megyn Kelly as you can be.

You’re colourblind

Everyone already looks white to you, because colour absent colour is clearly white; plain, boring, drama-less, spice-less. Yours is a super power indeed; to not see colour to is to be immune to the silliness of that thing called racism that no longer exists. You’re already better than the nation that housed you. Your mantra, “I don’t see race!” defuses accusations, and even in your silence, we hear it. So fuck all that systematic racist shit, all that #blacklivesmatter shit. Ignore the real issues in your very bland world of conflict-less/every body is the same-ness, because if you just ignore it, the “kumbaya’ will come.

Appropriate, appropriate

Oh you’re real comfortable right now. You’ve spotted that old dance, old food, and old hair and made it all brand new. You gentrified the hell out of that shit, and removed the stink of culture to make it user friendly for the white you. Cozying up to the word “nigga” is a past-time to you, so bootlegging your blackness, brownness, Asian-ness, or Indigenous-ness from from the online store of, One Race Fits All seems fitting. Take a cue from Kylie Jenner here; and blacken your look by stealing from black-run boutiques like PluggedNYC. Borrow, take and remove. Come to the cookout without the invitation, grab a plate without asking and put your own spin on that bitch while you’re at it. Because there’s nothing wrong with stealing cultures; kinda like there was nothing wrong destroying them.

You talk about white people as if you aren't white

You’re at the peak. You’re basically black on the inside. You’re free to call the oppressor a piece of a shit because you’re too cool to “be” the oppressor. Practice saying “ugh, white men,” while ignoring you are a white man. Intellectually, you’re above the systems that benefit the sort that protest for white rights. And in this space, you can freely confuse causes meant to benefit people of colour, while promoting the bullshit you really care about (all white feminism, animal rights, or gorillas named Harambe). You can have your cake of allyship and eat it too. And there’s nothing more hipster racist then some good ol’ pretend allyship.

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