Romantic racism is a form of racism in which members of a dominant group supposedly project their fantasies onto members of oppressed groups. Feminist scholars have accused Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac, and other Beatnik authors of the 1950s of romantic racism. They point out that the dominant mainstream culture of the 1950s in the United States, which stressed conformity and held up middle-class suburban families as the cultural ideal, was indifferent to art and literature, upheld racial segregation and anti-Semitism, and despised or ignored black achievements, such as jazz. Those, like the novelist Norman Mailer, who felt limited by or alienated from mainstream culture, sought out influences from other cultures as form of rebellion. Mailer, a great fan of jazz music, created his concept of what it meant to be "hip," or a member of the white urban counterculture, largely on his perception of the culture of urban African-Americans (with whom the expression "hip", meaning "in the know", originated) and articulated his vision in his essay "The White Negro." Mailer, who considered himself an opponent of Victorian sexual repression and regimentation, idealized what he saw as the sexual and other freedoms of minority and other counter-cultural groups, overlooking the fact that in these groups sexual exploitation of women sometimes occurred. These critics consider his depictions of what he imagines African-American life to be like as an instance of what they call "romantic racism", contending that he implies that in urban ghettoes—filled with sex, drugs, and violence—life is somehow enriched, rather than hurt, by poverty and crime. Mailer's essay has also been criticized for spreading the stereotype of African-American men as hypermasculine and hypersexual.
These critics also identify numerous other examples of romantic racism in depictions of Native Americans in popular culture, along with other unfounded stereotypes and oversimplifications that create caricatures of various racial and ethnic groups.
Romantic racist stereotypes about East Asians include notions of esoteric "oriental wisdom", supposedly incomprehensible to unsophisticated westerners.
- Breines, Wini (1992). Young, White, and Miserable: Growing up Female in the Fifties. Chicago: University of Chicago Press[page needed]
- Hoberek, Andrew (2005). "Liberal Antiliberalism: Mailer, O'Connor, and The Gender Politics of Middle-Class Ressentiment". Women's Studies Quarterly 33 (3/4): 24–47. JSTOR 40004417.
- Wallace, Michele (1990) Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman. London: Verso[page needed]