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Is Lena Dunham’s hipster racism just old-fashioned prejudice?

Last week, the Girls co-creator was accused by a former colleague of hipster racism. Arwa Mahdawi reports on an unwitting racism embedded in popular culture

It is, by now, a familiar cycle. First Lena Dunham, the writer-actor-director best known for creating and starring in HBOs Girls, does or says something unbelievably tone-deaf and offensive. Why her actions were offensive individuals and outrage ensues describe to Dunham. She apologizes.

But she doesnt seem to listen, because a few months pass and Dunham does something offensive. And then the cycle repeats itself.

The hottest Dunham drama started last week once the actor Aurora Perrineau accused Murray Miller, a writer on Girls, of raping her when she was 17. Her new has been assembled by Dunham on being an outspoken feminist, and has said you should consider women; that women dont lie about rape. But to some, it seems what she supposed was that white women dont lie about rape.

Since Dunhams publicly accuse Perrineau, who’s mixed race, of lying and reaction to Perrineaus allegations would be to get together with her Girls co-creator Jenni Konner. This was especially galling to many, because the movement which has increased in response to a flood of sexual misconduct accusations against men has focused on white women that are wealthy and mostly ignored victims of colour.

Dunhams defence of Miller (where she has now apologized) caused a direct backlash and sparked calls for women of colour to divest from Dunham. In a statement that went viral, ” the writer Zinzi Clemmons talked about how, as a student at Brown University, shed understood a great deal of people whod transferred at the same circles as buddies of Dunham. Well-educated liberals, with parents who were powerful in the art world.

Back in school, I avoided these people like the plague because of their famous racism, Clemmons wrote. Their strain hipster racism is called by id.

Zinzi
Zinzi Clemmons wrote: Back in school, I avoided these people like the plague because of their famous racism. Photograph: Nina Subin

You may have heard the expression. Its been around for over a decade and seems to have been popularized by an informative article by Carmen Van Kerckhove at Racialicious. The article noted that hipster racism is a trend we noticed back at the peak of their Kill Whitey celebrations, in 2005. In the event they mercifully passed you by, they were ironic dance parties at Williamsburg, a then rapidly gentrifying part of Brooklyn, at which white hipsters parodied black hip-hop culture in order to kill the whiteness inside.

The Kill Whitey parties are a thing. The same can not be said of hipster racism it is deeply embedded in culture.

You think you have a right to what

But what’s this racism, and how do we recognise it? Rachel Dubrofsky, a communications specialist at the University of South Florida, told the Guardian that hipster racism is that the domain of white, often progressive people who think they are fashionable to racism, which they wrongly believe gives them permission to say and do stereotypical things without actually being racist.

Another important tenet of hipster racism, Dubrofsky notes, is the fact that it is veiled in irony. I think as we saw an increase in types of media in self-reflexive comedy hipster racism emerged.

Cases of hipster racism are as Dubrofsky notes, the ubiquity of [it] is remarkable. And because hipster racism is often characterized by humour it will be pervasive in comedy.

Some of the most popular white women comedians are horrible hipster racists, Dubrofsky says. In August, as an example, Tina Fey appeared on Saturday Night Live to discuss white nationalists marching on Charlottesville that she did while making a joke about Thomas Jefferson raping his 14-year-old slave, Sally Hemings, calling her that sexy, light-skinned girl over from the butter batter. Amy Schumer is known for making jokes like: I used to date Hispanic men, but now I favor consensual. Sarah Silverman has worn blackface onto quite a few events; she has since said publicly she deeply regrets it.

Hipster racism doesnt present itself in humour; you could view it at how races are fetishized by certain types that are on-trend. A worker at Vice Media explained, as an instance. He often tries to banter about hip-hop, for example, supposing that she’s obviously into hip-hop because she’s half-black.

There was one time, she recalls, when he wished to get a company dinner for cool people and the list was all brown people. It made us feel like pets.

Hipster racism is currently thinking that you can use someone elses culture as a prop.

Another pervasive illustration of hipster racism is the number of people who dont seem to understand that there’s no means if you are not black to say that the N-word. Earlier this month, the author Ta-Nehisi Coates was requested at a panel about if it was OK for white hip-hop lovers to rap along when they hear black rappers use the N-word in tunes. As he eloquently explained: no, its not.

When youre white in this country youre educated that everything belongs to you, he said. You think you have a right.

Hipster racism is currently thinking that you have a right that if you a liberal with friends that are black! Use that it isnt offensive.

Racism is not only the domain name of the dumb

Hipster racism is. That is even true of racism in general. As Ibram X Kendi, a professor at American University in Washington DC, told the Guardian: The expression of racism is to essentially deny its saying.

Kendi, the author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in the united states, says that in analyzing the history of ideas that are racist, I found that each and every group or articulator of ideas that are racist denied that their ideas are racist.

Racists demonstration: but its not racism, its a joke! Meanwhile racists find justifications for their beliefs in sociology or scripture or mathematics.

Why bother with all the hipster bit if hipster racism is essentially only racism? Why qualify it? The phrase is important because it forces us to have a look at the many ways racism functions, as Dubrofsky clarifies. It also compels us to look past the question of purpose.

She says. Hipster racism also makes evident that racism isn’t a consequence of a lack of education. Racism is not the domain name of the ignorant.

Hipster racism could be a word that is 21st-century, but progressives inadvertently perpetuating racism whilst challenging it has been occurring for centuries. In his publication, Kendi chronicles the history of thoughts these are ideas that consider themselves to be well-meaning they reject a hierarchy that is biological but think in a behavioral or cultural hierarchy. Abolitionists, as an example, thought slavery was wrong but believed people had turned into brutes and therefore advocated the civilizing of black people.

From the 20th century, the 1965 Moynihan report famously pathologized households, arguing that the problems many Americans faced were down to the instability of the family structures. This notion persists, that families that are broken would be to blame for racial inequality in America. You may view it, for example, at a 2015 New York Times op-ed concerning the Baltimore riots in which David Brooks wrote: The real obstacles to freedom are things of social psychology, the quality of relationships in a home and a neighborhood.

With white supremacists marching on the streets, an individual might be tempted to discount hipster racism as less serious as racism-racism. Hipster racists are not Richard Spencer. But increasingly light continues to be shed on a kind of racism that, in the best, trivializes peoples experience. And that is no laughing matter.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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