I remember the first time I saw someone wearing this t-shirt. I was at an after party in downtown LA for a comedy show. I didn’t get the message that this was going to be a hipster party. It was obvious that I forgot my ironic eyeglasses and converse high tops. Little did I know that I also didn’t get the message about the obligatory offensive t-shirt. “Jesus is my Homeboy,” “Live and Die in Compton,” anyone?
I had already made a fool of myself when I had decided that the comedian’s jokes about Mexicans were offensive. The blank stares I got in reaction to this comment further confirmed that I just didn’t understand the cool kids. Said comedian now has his own late night show, so I guess the kids over at Comedy Central are cooler than me too. I didn’t say anything about the Obama t-shirt. To this day, I wish I had the nerve to confront the boy donning it.
I get the shtick: “Daniel Tosh is so outrageous that it is ironic and funny.” “This shirt is so openly racist, so of course I’m not racist. I’m funny.” What I don’t get is that it is ok to act this way. Just because you are a hipster and it is cool to be jaded, witty, and ironic, doesn’t mean it is ok to be racist.
I have always thought that I was on the outside looking in, and that I just never really got the joke. However, as I was looking for an image of this t-shirt, I found many articles about this very outlook. Carmen Van Kerckhove over at Racialicious, was the first person to give this phenomenon a name: “Hipster Racism.”
What do you think? Is Hipster Racism really racism or has some of society moved past racism? Are hipsters (and the rest of us) evolved enough to make a derogatory comment in order to expose real racism? In class we have been talking about racism in the past, but we really have been dancing around modern racism. It is easy to say that racists live somewhere else – geographically, socially, and economically. In reality racism is among us. I think true feelings and fears hide inside Hipster Racism, but then again, maybe I just don’t get the joke. Do you?