Hipster racism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hipster racism is engaging in behaviors typically regarded as racist and defending them as being performed ironically or satirically. Rachel Dubrofsky and Megan W. Wood have described it as being supposedly "too hip and self-aware to actually mean the racist stuff one expresses".[1] This might include wearing blackface and other performances of stereotyped African Americans, use of the word nigger, and appropriating cultural dress.[2][3] Talia Meer argues that hipster racism is rooted in what she calls "hipster exceptionalism", meaning "the idea that something ordinarily offensive or prejudiced is miraculously transformed into something clever, funny and socially relevant, by the assertion that said ordinarily offensive thing is ironic or satirical."[4] As Leslie A. Hahner and Scott J. Varda described it, "those participating in acts of hipster racism understand those acts as racist when practiced by others, but rationalize their own racist performances through a presumed exceptionalism."[5]


Carmen Van Kerckhove coined the term hipster racism in the article "The 10 Biggest Race and Pop Culture Trends of 2006", citing "Kill Whitey" Parties and "Blackface Jesus" as examples.[6][7] "Kill Whitey" parties, as described by The Washington Post, were parties held for hipsters in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, by Jeremy Parker, a disc jockey who goes by the name The Pumpsta, in an attempt to "kill the whiteness inside". These were parties in which white hipsters mocked the black hip-hop industry, and essentially a part of African-American culture, for the sake of irony.[8] Sierra and Bianca Casady of CocoRosie were noted as regulars at "Kill Whitey" parties.[9] Van Kerckhove also regarded the use of blackface by white people and the normalization and acceptance of such use from other individuals as hipster racism. Van Kerckhove contends, quoting Debra Dickerson, that the use of blackface by individuals such as these was an effort to satirize political correctness and racism.[10]

Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times characterized the appropriation of cultural artifacts as fashion without recognizing the significance of the article as hipster racism. Examples include wearing Native American headdresses, or more specifically, Urban Outfitters selling clothes with Navajo and other Aboriginal and African tribal prints without giving tribute, acknowledgement, or compensation.[2] Television producer Lena Dunham was described as a hipster racist when Dunham issued a statement defending a male colleague who was accused of rape by a woman of mixed race.[11][12]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Dubrofsky & Wood 2014, p. 285.
  2. ^ a b Pearce, Matt (1 May 2012). "Trayvon Martin, Kony 2012, L.A. riots – and Now 'Hipster Racism'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  3. ^ West, Lindy (26 April 2012). "A Complete Guide to 'Hipster Racism'". Jezebel. New York: Gawker Media. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  4. ^ Meer, Talia (2 January 2013). "Die Antwoord — Are We Missing the Misogyny?". Thought Leader. Johannesburg: M&G Media. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  5. ^ Hahner & Varda 2014, p. 315.
  6. ^ Van Kerckhove, Carmen (15 January 2007). "The 10 Biggest Race and Pop Culture Trends of 2006: Part 1 of 3". Racialicious. Archived from the original on 2 March 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  7. ^ Current & Tillotson, p. 4; Threadgold 2018.
  8. ^ Garcia, Michelle (26 August 2005). "Deejay's Appeal: 'Kill The Whiteness Inside'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Deejay's Appeal: 'Kill the Whiteness Inside'". Washington Post. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  10. ^ Van Kerckhove, Carmen (9 December 2005). "Dude, Where's My White Privilege? Take 2: 'Blackface Jesus'". Mixed Media Watch. New York: New Demographic. Archived from the original on 28 March 2006. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  11. ^ D'Zurilla, Christie (20 November 2017). "Lena Dunham accused of 'hipster racism' after she initially defended 'Girls' writer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  12. ^ Mahdawi, Arwa (25 November 2017). "Is Lena Dunham's 'hipster racism' just old-fashioned prejudice?". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2017.


Further reading[edit]