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

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

It is, by now, a familiar round. First Lena Dunham, the writer-actor-director best known for creating and starring in HBO’s Girls, does or says something fantastically tone-deaf and offensive. Anger ensues and people explain to Dunham why her activities were offensive. She apologizes.

But she doesn’t seem to listen, because a few months pass and Dunham does something else offensive. And then the cycle repeats itself.

The latest Dunham drama began last week when the actor Aurora Perrineau accused Murray Miller, a columnist on Girls , of raping her when she was 17. Dunham has built her brand on being an outspoken feminist, and has publicly said you should ever belief ladies; that ladies don’t lie about rape. But to some, it seems what she entailed was that white wives don’t lie about rape.

Because Dunham’s first reaction to Perrineau’s allegations was to get together with her Girls co-creator Jenni Konner and publicly accuse Perrineau, who is mixed race, of lying. This was particularly galling to many, since the most recent #MeToo motion that has risen in response to a flood of sex misconduct accusations against powerful men has focused on wealthy white women and largely ignored victims of colour.

Dunham’s defence of Miller( for which she has now apologized) made an immediate backlash and triggered calls for women of colour to “divest” from Dunham. In a statement which proceeded viral, the writer Zinzi Clemmons talked about how, as a student at Brown University, she’d known a lot of people who’d moved in the same circles as the group of friends of Dunham. Wealthy, well-educated liberals, with parents who were influential in the artwork world.

” Back in college, I scaped these people like the plague because of their well-known racism ,” Clemmons wrote.” I’d call their strain’ hipster racism ‘.”

Zinzi Clemmons wrote:’ Back in college, I scaped these people like the beset because of their well-known racism.’ Photograph: Nina Subin

You may have heard the word before. It’s been around for over a decade and seems to have been popularized by an section by Carmen Van Kerckhove in Racialicious. The clause have also pointed out that hipster racism is” a trend we noticed back in 2005, at the high levels of the Kill Whitey parties “. In occurrence they mercifully passed you by, the latter are ironic dance parties in Williamsburg, a then rapidly gentrifying part of Brooklyn, at which white-hot hipsters parodied black hip-hop culture in order to” kill the whiteness inside “.

The Kill Whitey parties are no longer a thing. The same can not be said of hipster racism- it is deeply been incorporated in popular culture.

‘You think you have a right to everything’

But what is this hipsterised racism, and how would we recognise it? Rachel Dubrofsky, a communications expert at the University of South Florida, told the Guardian that hipster racism is the” realm of white, often progressive people who think they are hip to racism, which they mistakenly believe imparts them permission to say and do racist things without actually being racist “.

Another key tenet of hipster racism, Dubrofsky mentions, is that it is veiled in irony.” I think hipster racism emerged as we recognized an increase in ironic, self-reflexive humor in popular different forms of media .”

Examples of hipster racism are everywhere: as Dubrofsky tones,” the sheer ubiquity of[ it] is remarkable .” And because hipster racism is often characterized by “humour” it tends to be pervasive in comedy.

” Some of the most popular white girls comedians are horrible hipster racists ,” Dubrofsky says. In August, for example, Tina Fey is available on Saturday Night Live to talk about lily-white nationalists parading on Charlottesville- which she did while making a joke about Thomas Jefferson raping his 14 -year-old slave, Sally Hemings, calling her” that hot, light-skinned girlfriend over by the butter churn “. Amy Schumer is known for making gags like:” I used to date Hispanic people, but now I opt consensual .” Sarah Silverman has worn blackface on a number of moments; she has since said publicly she deeply regrets it.

Hipster racism doesn’t just present itself in off-colour witticism; you can see it in the way certain on-trend types fetishize other races. A mixed-race employee at Vice Media told me, for example, about a lily-white executive in her bureau who routinely utilizes people of colour as props to induce him seem “cool”. He often tries to banter with her about hip-hop, for example, assuming that she is obviously into hip-hop because she is half-black.

” There was one time ,” she recalls,” when he wanted to have a business dinner for cool creative people and the invite listing was all dark-brown people. It stirred us feel like pets .”

Hipster racism is thinking that you can use someone else’s culture as a prop.

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

” When you’re white in this country you’re taught that everything belong to you ,” he said.” You think you have a right to everything .”

Hipster racism is thinking that you have a right to the N-word, that if you- a liberal with black friends!- utilize it, somehow it isn’t offensive.

‘Racism is not only the domain of the ignorant’

Hipster racism is a racism that is in denial about its racism. However, that is also true of racism in general. As Ibram X Kendi, a professor at American University in Washington DC, told the Protector:” The saying of racism is to fundamentally deny its saying .”

Kendi, the author of Stamped from the Outset: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, is indicated that” in analyzing the history of racist notions, I found that every group or articulator of racist suggestions denied that their thoughts are racist .”

Hipster racists demonstration: but it’s not racism, it’s a joke! Meanwhile , non-hipster racists find justifications for their beliefs in science or scripture or sociology.

If hipster racism is basically merely racism, why bother with the “hipster” bit? Why qualify it? As Dubrofsky clarifies, the word is” important because it forces us to look at the many different ways racism roles. It likewise pushes us to look beyond the question of intent .”

She says:” Hipster racism helps us is quite clear that even though someone might not have intended to be racist, they were. Hipster racism also makes apparent that racism is not a result of a lack of formal education. Racism is not only the domain of the supposedly ignorant .”

Hipster racism may be a 21 st-century term, but progressives unwittingly perpetuating racism while supposedly challenging it has been happening for centuries. In his journal, Kendi chronicles the history of” assimilationist hypothesis- such is thoughts that consider themselves to be well-meaning- they spurn a biological hierarchy but believe in a culture or behavioral hierarchy .” Abolitionists, for example, seen bondage was incorrect but likewise believed it had moved black people into brutes and therefore advocated the educate of black people.

In the 20 th century, the 1965 Moynihan report famously pathologized black families, underlining the fact that the problems many African Americans were facing were down to the instability of their family structures. This idea persists, that broken black families are to blame for ethnic inequality in America. You can see it, for example, in a 2015 New York Times op-ed about the Baltimore riotings in which David Brooks wrote:” The real an obstacle to mobility are matters of social psychology, the quality of relationships in a dwelling and a neighborhood .”

With white supremacists parading on wall street, one might be tempted to reject hipster racism as not as serious as racism-racism. Hipster racists are not Richard Spencer. But increasingly light is been shed on a type of unwitting racism that, at best, trivializes people’s experience. And that is no laughing matter.

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