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Hipster racism in Melbourne

On the weekend I was at a house party in the northern suburbs. There were hipsters there, of course. No better, worse or different from any other house party. There was music in an upstairs living room cum-dance floor and in the poorly lit mini arena we all jumped and danced about. I realised, mid-bounce, I was sartorially off key, for the party seemed to have a theme.  People were wearing basketball shirts, baseball caps and gold chains. When a girl walked in with neon blue tights stuffed with wads of cotton wool to make her arse more prominent, the theme became clear to me.

I yelled into my friend’s ear, above the music: ‘Is this some sort of hip-hop dress up party?’

She noted Ms Cotton Bottom and gave me a ‘who the fuck knows’ shrug.

As if on key, a hip-hop song came on and everyone proceeded to lose their shit. This song featured the N-word – and every single person in that living room (other than my friend and me) screamed the lyrics at the top of their lungs, yelling the N-word left, right and centre with impunity.

The alcohol left my veins. There was something sobering about a room full of young, white, middle-class men and women using that word en masse as if it didn’t matter: somewhere between a gross ignorance and an entitlement that was too much to stomach.  These people seemed grotesque, in the way that only over-privileged people can be: grotesquely lazy in their lack of consideration, in their complete bypassing of what this word meant, for not one person looked anywhere near uncomfortable.

I saw the girl in the neon pants, the N-word spewing from her mouth, bouncing her bulging cotton arse (clearly an homage to black women’s bodies) and I wondered what the difference was between this and blackface.

Worse I knew for a fact that when Eddie McGuire made that awful comment about Adam Goodes a few weeks ago, these hipster theatre makers, full of piss and vinegar, declared ‘there is an issue with race in Australia’. I know for a fact that Neon Pants said that at least once in the past month. And yet here she was, making comedy of non-white bodies, and using racist terms when it suited her. I say when it suited her because, like Eddie Mcguire making his statements in the comfortable company of his white colleagues, she was in a room full of white people. I wonder how willing she would be to dress that way or use that language if a black person were to enter the room.

The question is, obviously, is this a big deal? I say that it is. It represents, above all else, the inability for white middle class people to recognise that not everything is for them. You receive all the wonderful benefits of being privileged, the advantages both implicit and explicit, and maybe, just maybe, you can’t have one thing, and that thing is this one word. It is not yours. I don’t care how into hip hop you are or how you think your hipsterdom sets you apart from normal racism but you aren’t allowed this term.

How hard is that to deal with?

The fact that it is hard demonstrates a belief that all culture, in all its forms, is simply made for your enjoyment and consumption, that if you enjoy the music then you are immediately entitled to every aspect of it, that if someone else has said this word then of course you can say it, too. Because why not? You’re entitled to every other thing in your life – why would this be any different?

It upsets me that this comes from a crowd of people who are the most militant about issues of inequality, who make art and contribute to culture, because it demonstrates one of the insidious parts of political correctness, the way that ugly attitudes and behaviours are only revealed when people are among their ‘own’. It highlights the mental laziness of the young middle class in this country: their vacuous lack of forethought, their lack of consideration of what their behaviour means.

Neon Pants was having a wonderful time. Some stranger pointed to her faux arse and they both laughed. I saw her thinking that black women’s bodies are freakish and noteworthy; I imagined her in another time dragging her friends along to see the ‘Hottentot Venus’ and gasping at how indecent it was. I saw dumb people with good hair cuts who were no better than Eddie Maguire, no matter how many theatre spaces they inhabit or how allergic to dairy they were.

Race is an issue in this country, and racism comes in many guises. Just because you are entertained by something does not mean you should not think about how to interpret it.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

George Phillippov is a Melbourne author who likes to watch the goings on.

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Comments

  1. This article is fantastic.

    ‘No matter how many theatre spaces they inhabit or how allergic to dairy they were.’ – amazing.

  2. Everything is for everybody. The main question should be: is there dehumanization in this? That’s the key element of racism and sexism: the exclusion of others from their entitlement to rights and consideration on the basis of a lesser humanity.

  3. This article made me feel uncomfortable. I realise that Overland’s primary online (perhaps hip white upper middle class) readership may need this reality check, but reproducing the scene the way you have is really distressing to me. I have now experienced yet another horrific act of racism I didn’t really have to experience today. And why? So that a bunch of middle class white hipsters, who likely won’t be enlightened anyway, get told off? This is a ‘see how racist people are’ post. It is not enough to justify reproducing and widely disseminating an act of racism. I appreciate and respect your horror at the hip hop party scene you describe, but what I want to know is this: what did you, as disgusted and drunk as you were, do in this situation to make a difference? Yes, it sounds horrible. What did you do about it? Did you call it as racism, publicly? Did you embarrass the perpetrators and make them feel as small as reading this makes me feel? Did you turn the music down and scream and rant explain how racist the scene was? Did you find the party host to express your disgust?

    • Really struck by your comment, Maxine. Without comment on the original article, I wanted to say that personally I appreciate realising the implications of reproducing and widely disseminating an act of racism. Just quickly: I am undeniably squeamish about ‘calling people out’ on racist attitudes and behaviours when I’m in a situation (like that in the article). Perhaps I’m letting myself off the hook for my squeamishness and fear of social faux pas (?) — but I wonder whether there’s a way to address racism that is more effective than confrontation? Suggestions more than welcome.

    • I’m with you Maxine. Non-Black people creating a writing industry over anti-Blackness or less perniciously posting links on their FB pages to Black thinkers while saying nothing in person when the anti-Black racism actually occurs.

    • Maxine—

      Avoiding the question of what the author *should* have done at the party, it is nevertheless appropriate that these stories are told.

      For some (this possibly includes you), this article adds nothing to what is already known. For others, it solidifies belief in what has already been recognised as a problem. For some others again, it expands a developing issue—making one realise, for example, that racism extends far beyond the domain of football commentators and suburban layabouts. And for others still, it can (and WILL, if read widely enough) shake them by the shoulders for the very first time, saying “hey, this is not alright”.

      Education can often be unpleasant. But to imply that an article such as this (one that may upset some but educate others) should not be published is, ultimately, counter-productive.

      NB: Saying all of the above, I do think the article is left wanting in several aspects, and in that vein I hope that everyone who reads the article also reads your comment; you fill in a lot of these untouched gaps.

    • I’d like to back Maxine on this. To be honest I found this a strange and distressing post with a kind of gossipy tone (and a hint of misogyny) that didn’t help its case at all.
      In response to Alyssa’s anxiety about ‘confrontation’ I think that naming things clearly and honestly as they happen is very important. Otherwise we collude with the violence even as we wring our hands.

  4. The image of the girl with stuffed pants is disturbing. It sounds as though her costume choice was tasteless and inappropriate, and I’m sure there was a disappointing lack of awareness amongst some of the people there. But I don’t think I can buy your point about the song – or even the basketball singlets and gold chains. The fact is, the majority of hip hop is aimed at a mass market. It is ‘for’ these kids; it’s for whoever likes it. That includes the clothing: a lot of hip hop artists make a lot of money from their own labels and I’m sure they don’t want to restrict their sales and their influence to an African American audience. And there’s a lot to enjoy in the colour, fun and ostentation of mainstream black American street fashion. Moreover, people will sing along to a good pop song. Were these people supposed to sing the lyrics but fall into a collective silence every time the ‘n’ word – which has been so successfully reappropriated by African Americans that it is often easy to tell from the context whether its use is derogatory and hurtful – was uttered? We’re no longer in the era of gangster rap, where the music was part of an aggressive act of defiance towards the white community and helped shape a deliberately separate culture. This isn’t to say there’s no racism in America or Australia, or in any other part of the West, or no need/desire for blacks to define themselves in opposition to white culture, but popular hip hop these days is more often a kind of celebration, a ‘Look – I made it. I’ve got more power and money and influence than any of you’. (You could certainly debate the usefulness of that position when there’s a massive inequality problem along race lines in America, but that’s hardly the point here, and it’s not for a white girl to dictate anyway). In a lot of cases, hip hop is about the production, the musical innovation, and although it draws from a particular lexicon and is a part of a discourse that has been going on for many, many years, the primary concern has little to do with race relations. I think it’s hard to argue that white kids in Australia embracing this music are being particularly racist.

    • Annie, the answer to your question is yes these people were supposed to fall into collective silence rather than call out a word that has a totally racist and violent history (not to mention current use) and has been reclaimed by and for Black people only. The “context” of it’s use is broader than the context of any individual song. You’ll find a lot of useful things to read on the internet and countless articles and books written on this topic by people who know what they’re talking about (ie Black folks and other folks of colour) rather than a bunch of white people in Melbourne debating whether or not something is racist.

  5. The stuffed pants are certainly troubling, but I do agree with Annie’s comment, above. Almost a decade ago I wrote about the issue of white women consuming club hip-hop (PDF here, and while race privilege does shield white women from some of the grosser implications of emulating blackness, I feel as if people’s attraction to the tropes of hip-hop is more complex than simply portraying it as a sort of droit de seigneur – wanting to possess what a subaltern group values just because you can.

    The ‘hipster’ in ‘hipster racism’ also seems to speak to a search for cool (or an ironic pose) that isn’t really addressed by just calling it thoughtless. I’ve blogged a fair bit about the attitudes and desires that might be behind hipster trends and while honestly I don’t think I’ve ever really ‘nailed’ it, perhaps we need to engage directly with the weird double-think that people seem capable of (“Racism is bad/But racialised stuff is also cool and funny”) rather than disavowing it because it’s grotesque.

  6. My initial reaction to this is, yeah you’re giving us an inside view to a run-of-the-mill melb youth party, and your stance as ‘observer’ does not evolve or change, but how are you going to change these people? What makes you more righteous by not yelling out nigger at the top of your lungs with your friend? Do you engage with the african community, with people of colour? Yes, it is easy to be sickened, I would be too, but isn’t the real issue here that people don’t empathise quite enough?

    There is a separation between people of colour and middle class whites that can only be pulled together by not fearing the other, making it clear to these people with their mocking/supremacist behaviour that you don’t tolerate it. Turn off their music next time, and leave.

  7. “You know what I love? When people don’t see my race. There is nothing more affirming for me as a person than to have essential parts of myself and my experience completely disregarded. I mean, inside we’re all the same. And there’s only one race: the HUMAN race! Amirite??? Ugh. Listen. If your ability to respect someone’s right to exist requires pretending that they are just like you, that’s a problem. We are not all the same. And things like race, gender, disability, etc. are exactly the kinds of things that shape our lives and our experiences and make us different from one another. Being different is not the problem. The idea that being the same as you is what gives us the right to exist is the problem.”

    Jamilah King, This Is a Really Helpful List on How Not to be a Good Ally

  8. Who are these hipsters?Why do you find their supposed racism more troubling than the general populace of Australia, other than having a bad experience at a party?My understanding is that, at its best, “hipster” in today’s society signifies a minority youth movement (at least once) dedicated to allowing expression outside of the dominant hegemonic discourse. Be it fashion, music, literature, or all-encompassing politics. For this to be an in anyway meaningful article surely you need to explain why this is an issue beyond this one party, how it is endemic of this movement’s beliefs, or even what you think the movement entails. Rather than, you know, it being an assumed generic evil?

    Otherwise, surely you are just repeating the faux-pas of mocking a sub-culture grown too big for its boots, before it ebbs back into the ether, mutates, & emerges (slightly) popular once again so you can write another article that takes a meaningful issue in a meaningless direction.

  9. Your beef should be with the people who made the music. Stating that certain music is only for certain ethnic groups is the real racist issue here. Yes, drunk hipster kids can be annoying, but you have an issue with the music they love, not them.

  10. Are you shitting me? First of all, how is putting cotton wool in your pants in an attempt to make your arse look bigger in any way racist? Do white people (or people of any racial persuasion for that matter) not have fat arses? Is it not a racist assumption that she was in fact pretending to be African American by virtue of her costume choice?

    Have any of you people getting your knickers in a knot not seen a hip-hop film clip from the 90’s? You will find girls of all colours in tight pants shaking their voluptuous behinds. Not to mention the fact that it is a pop cultural reference (see the song: “I like big butts” by Sir-Mix-A-Lot).

    Secondly, in regards to the use of the ‘N’ word, should you not be taking aim at the people whose song it is? Like Annie above notes, were these ‘hipsters’ who were singing along supposed to go collectively silent when the ‘N’ word appeared throughout the song? Are you not allowed to listen to a song that has the ‘N’ word in it if you are white? What are you trying to say here?

    This is political correctness gone mental. It is exactly this paranoia and up tightness that perpetuates the notion of an ‘us’ and ‘them’ between races and cultures.

    • I was at this party. It is an interesting point that you raise MediaOcrity: “Is it not a racist assumption that she was in fact pretending to be African American by virtue of her costume choice?”

      I know for a fact that she was not dressing up as an African American. She was dressing up as one of the white girls from this video clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hR-NXv5Tma0

      I also think a joyous celebration of hip hop culture is in no way racist. If anything, isn’t it kind of the opposite? These people weren’t taking the piss – they were legitimately revelling in a culture that they love.

      I do agree that the N word represents an issue and that white people just shouldn’t use it. But if you put that issue aside, do you really have a problem with this party? Isn’t it a teensy bit racist of you to make an issue out of this? “oh my god there’s hip hop at this party that’s disgusting. White people should listen to white music and black people should listen to back music.”

  11. Yes, the Hipster is/was not much more that a disturbing reaction to multicultural society that attempts to reaffirm ‘whiteness’. It is a soft white-power movement. Frankie Magazine is a classic example of this bilge – frantically celebrating the aspects of White Grandma’s culture that they fear is being ‘lost’. Scanning Frankie’s pages it is quickly apparent that it is as White as all hell, especially given its obsession with Melbourne. It fits in well with the current rash of TV series’ like Mad Men set in times when racism/sexism was the norm – screenwriters can be as racist or sexist as they wish.

  12. Firstly excellent article,

    Secondly.

    Wow, you have really booted the hornet’s nest of Australia’s mild undercurrent of racism! Look at em all fly!! It’s pretty easy guys, you just cant say the N word, just that one word you can’t say.

  13. To quote the author firstly- “The question is, obviously, is this a big deal? I say that it is. It represents, above all else, the inability for white middle class people to recognize that not everything is for them. You receive all the wonderful benefits of being privileged, the advantages both implicit and explicit, and maybe, just maybe, you can’t have one thing, and that thing is this one word.”

    I do agree with you that the N word should not be used however do you share the same belief in regards for someone being maliciously called a white cunt?

    Secondly the N word is condemned by such great African American leaders as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton who have urged the hip hop community to stop using this term. No one should use this word, you shouldn’t just stop white people from using the term, everyone should refrain from doing it. If the hip hop community is using this term indiscriminately then what you are suggesting here is a form of censorship and that my friend is bullshit.

    As for your comment about white middle classed kids being privileged, well lets look at the facts here. They don’t receive any more welfare payments higher then any other minority group (the same cannot be said in reverse) if they are unemployed. The majority of middle class kids are hard workers who contribute to society.

    They don’t get special consideration based on their background (by ticking a box) when applying for jobs or government monies paid to employers if they get the job. Now days if you are a white middle class male, you are automatically seen as a racist homophobe which 90% of the time is again… bullshit.

    Equality means equal for all, you can’t have one segment of the population based on religious, color or ethnic background benefiting solely because they aren’t middle class and white.

    That is hypocrisy.

  14. Ugh, some of these comments. Seriously, can some white person come and get their folks so poc don’t have to?

    Try to nurture some empathy, white people. Or just try googling ‘racism 101’.

      • haha, I’m glad some humour can be found in this comment discussion because most of the posts are making me bang my head against my desk!

  15. Haven’t any of you figured out yet that you’re rabbiting on about an issue that is not even Australian. Racist …maybe, you may not know their intent and intent notwithstanding, what were you doing there? – party in Melbourne, yes – so? Boo hoo. These hipster mob are probably completely aclueistic about this anyway – if they’ve been bombarded with this for their entire short lives of course they are not going to know a thing about American history. Is that so surprising? You sound like a bunch of old folks whimpering about your grandchildren using the word ‘fuck’ and blubbering about what the world is coming to when you are probably part of the problem that caused it to begin with – by making it available in the popular media. What goes around comes around – history repeats for a reason. And the real rappers are laughing all the way to the bank – they have your shoes, they have your money. And, it seems, they have your undivided attention.

  16. As the girl this article is about, I am honestly shocked, embarrassed and hurt.

    Firstly, I would like to sincerely apologise for singing along with the ‘n’ word as you have claimed. As an avid listener of hip hop, I have always felt uncomfortable about the use of the word, and I would fall silent in that part of the song. Unfortunately in this instance, I was completely inebriated and am very embarrassed and extremely sorry that that is my only explanation.

    As for my outfit, I find it ironic that you would assume it was “clearly an homage to black women’s bodies”. Do white women not have bottoms? I was in fact dressed as a white girl from a music video. It was a costume party, I was wearing a wig and I stuffed my pants to achieve a larger booty. I was not making a racist comment. I am sorry I led you to believe otherwise, but I don’t believe it is my responsibility to ensure everyone was aware I was white. I think it is a much greater issue that you are racially profiling on the assumption that a girl with a booty, who celebrates hip hop music must be an African American, and therefore could be the only explanation for my outfit.

    Which leads me to your last comment, describing what you saw.
    “I saw her thinking that black women’s bodies are freakish and noteworthy; I imagined her in another time dragging her friends along to see the ‘Hottentot Venus’ and gasping at how indecent it was.”

    What I saw, was a gentleman who was clearly not invited to a party, standing in the corner and profiling a stranger purely on their appearance.

    I am honestly greatly ashamed and embarrassed that I sung along, and had we met, or had you approached me, I would have welcomed you telling me to show some respect and not sing along. But as none of this happened, and rather you stood in the corner and cast your assumptions, I can’t help but feel you are only fueling this misguided stereotyping.

    As a white person, I will continue to listen to hip hop. This does not mean I am racist, nor equally sexist, it purely means I enjoy the music. Should I be at a party and be in a position where I am more sober than those around, and I see behaviour that I feel uncomfortable about I will raise it then and there to ensure immediate understanding.

    Still, thank you for your article and appreciate the conversation you encouraging. I think it is incredibly important that communities discuss and shame acts of racism. Again, I apologise for singing along to the song, there is no excuse for my use of the ‘n’ word, I just wish that you had introduced yourself, and we could have discussed it then. I am glad you could make it t our party.

  17. All else aside Ms Cotton Bottom, kudos to you for taking the time, and having the courage, to explain the situation after such a public shaming.

    • Ditto again from me, for what it’s worth, on Maxine’s comments. Looking again at this post it seems to me not so much a howl of outrage about an instance of racism but a furtive exercise in misogyny.

  18. Are hipsters hip-hop dudes? I had no idea. Ironically cool, would have been my guess. Being drunk at a party is no surprise. I can imagine the reception a sober person would get delivering an anti-racist harangue in such a carnivalesque situation. And to what profit? Either to the sober argument being provoked by the sober person, or to the inebriated party goers slinging insults at the party pooper. Better to wait till the cold light of morning, I would have thought. Which is what the writer of this piece did / did not do.

  19. These Saul Williams lyrics sprang to mind today re: this post:

    “i gave hip hop to white boys when nobody was looking
    They found it locked in a basement when they gentrified Brooklyn / Left a list of instructions, an MPC and a mic
    My sci-fi library and utensils to write/ Right or wrong, I think hip hop is where it belongs…
    ….So substitute the anger and oppression
    With guilt and depression and it’s yours, it’s yours
    Substitute the anger and oppression
    With guilt and depression and it’s yours, it’s yours”…

  20. A song lyric / racism play off: great idea.

    Consider too the famous Sly and the Family Stone song, covered in far more menacing ways, particularly by Ice-T and Percy Farrell in dialogue at Lollapalooza in 1991, after the Rodney king beating:

    Don’t call me nigger, whitey
    Don’t call whitey, nigger

    Well, I went down across the country
    Ana I heard the voices ring
    People talkin’ softly to each other
    And not a word could change a thing

  21. Of course not even close. Serves here to demonstrate the extreme insult of what has been called, somewhat squeamishly in this comment thread, the ‘N-word’.

  22. If only everything in life was black and white and so easy to read.
    Perhaps instead of judging books by their cover you should pick one up and read it.
    I suggest this one for starters :
    http://www.amazon.com/Decoded-Jay-Z/dp/0812981154/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373284188&sr=1-1&keywords=decoded+jay-z

    If you had befriended anybody at this party I am sure they would have let you borrow it.

    It may not change your mind but it should give you some insight in to the reappropriation of the term by those dropping it. However, as this video shows not everyone will see eye to eye so perhaps it better you agree to disagree and then brush up on your party etiquette.

    http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Jay-Z-on-the-N-word-Video

  23. um, seriously. why are all my white peeps getting so defensive and trying to put it back on the person who wrote this article. They are describing an experience and highlighting that we are out of touch with reality, privilege and what is goddam appropriate.

    clearly you all fucked up. we all know that white people don’t say the N word. EASY. ya gotta leave that one alone.

    and, whoever posted that link to the ‘bubble butt’ song in attempt to defend miss cotton ass, FAIL. That song clearly depicts black booty culture and werking it, or whatever it’s called. I wouldn’t know because I love Bon Iver and other soft melodic white type indie folk music. So to put it simply, we can’t assume that we (meaning white people) can just do whatever we want without questioning the original source or intent behind something. That pop video main theme, was not white girls with big butts.

    And why are people asking the author what did they do at the party. AS IF they could go up to people at an intimidating drunken insensitive hipster party and say, ‘hey, this shit is racist’. I highly doubt you would all respond well.

    we can all love a bit of hop hop, but it doesn’t mean you have act black or misappropriate black culture etc. c’mon.

      • congratulations, you have proven i am also capable of making a mistake.

        i shall apologise and make an effort to use proper english and not abbreviate anything, especially if the slang is derived from cultures with people of colour.

        i will also tell people to stop saying ‘yo’ and ‘bro’

    • I agree that this article raises some interesting questions, and I know that I am privileged as fuck etc.

      But I want to address your final point “we can all love a bit of hop hop, but it doesn’t mean you have act black or misappropriate black culture etc. c’mon.”

      No one at this party was ‘acting black’ unless you call embracing hip hop ‘acting black’ (which you seem to to do – oops that’s racial stereotyping, sorry you are now a racist too). Misappropriation of black culture? If you think dressing up hip hop and dancing to hip hop is racist if white people do it, then I will have to assume you think acts like the Beastie Boys are racist. Which seems pretty fucking stupid to me!

      White people can twerk. It is not a racist act. If it is, then the Festival of Melbourne is guilty of racism – Big Freedia (a black transgender musician) last year positively demanded that every white girl (and guy!) get on stage and twerk as hard as possible. This wasn’t a misappropriation of black culture. It wasn’t mocking. It wasn’t racist. It was in fact, a celebration of a distinctively black culture by white people. If you argue that those thousands of white twerkers were racist, well…. if we take that reasoning to its logical conclusion, I am racist every time I eat at a chinese restaurant because I am acting chinese.

  24. i agree skinny white boy! as if the bubble butt song makes it in any way excused – that song itself is a parody of black booty culture, and most certainly NOT white girls with big asses. i think that if anyone bothered to do some research they’d realise that ‘twerking’ and ‘booty’ culture are firmly rooted in african american culture. i’m pretty surprised at a lot of these comments and their attempts to defend themselves.

    i dont believe that anyone should stop listening to hip-hop – i am white myself and i adore it. however i agree with the premise of this article; that much of our generation is lazy and reluctant to question their own behaviours, as well as the attitudes of the masses.

    • I really hope for your sake Bon Iver never collaborates with any Hip Hop Heavyweights. Your brain probably couldnt handle that. OH WAIT!

    • What is your point regarding ‘twerking’ and ‘booty’ culture being firmly rooted in african american culture? Are white people racist if they engage in an activity that is rooted in african american culture? Am I being racist when I play jazz clarinet?

  25. I was at that party. I wish I ran into you so I could have told you to go fuck yourself, you hyper-judgmental, misogynist, arrogant shit.

  26. Hi George, I would like to ask a few questions about this article.

    1. I assume George Phillippov is a pseudonym, as I cannot find any other articles from this name on the net. As someone who likes to “watch the goings on” I’d like to know why you would hide behind a moniker rather than own your words? If this is your real name, I apologise for the assumption and would love to see more of your work. Can you show me some?

    2. In your words “I know for a fact that Neon Pants said that at least once in the past month” – from what I gather, you didn’t know anyone at this party. Can you explain how you “know” this please?

    3. In your words, “I saw her thinking that black women’s bodies are freakish and noteworthy” – can you please explain how you saw someone thinking something?

    4. In your words, “I saw dumb people with good hair cuts” – my understanding is you didn’t speak with any other people at this party other than your friend, who clearly didn’t know people either. At what point did you decide they were “dumb” people and what was your reasoning? Also, did you think to talk to anyone to understand them?

    5. How did you get into this party, and why did you go?

    I trust as a person who likes to create debate, you’re willing to continue it. I look forward to your response George. Many thanks.

    I’ll leave you with the words of the great Louis C.K. “Whenever a little old lady with white hair on CNN says ‘the N word’, that’s just white people getting away with saying nigger”.

    Dave Zee

  27. Dave now, what’s going on?
    1. Why do you need to know that? How is this relevant to “continuing debate” ? Maybe he doesn’t want to use his real name because he doesn’t want his name given to (inevitable) hostile people who end up calling him a misogynist fuck (whether that’s true or not. I don’t think it is) when he just wants to start a safe online debate. Seems like a giant pointless diversion to the actual debate.
    2. If he says he knows “for a fact,” then I think we can trust him enough to know that it is actually a fact. It shouldn’t be necessary for him to fill in the blanks like that
    3. The author attempted to express good old’ human intuition, which he didn’t express properly. His use of “Saw” is interchangeable with “imagined” or “pictured” i.e. “I pictured her thinking that black woman’s bodies” etc.
    4. I think if he started to describe/unpack why they they were “dumb,” it would be kind of insulting (even if fair) and he probably shouldn’t have even put that in because that sentence is a pretty tasteless way to set the tone of a scene

    5. How is this relevant? “Why did you go to the party?”
    I imagine he went there to… to… party? Asking how he got there is also incredibly strange. For someone who likes to continue debate, you sure know how to diverge a debate.

    Between the contents of the story and the comments below it, I’m glad I’ve just stayed away from these “hipster” parties.

    “Not every symbol is for the white hipster’s use.” I appreciate the urgency behind this but it’s simply not true for our world. For a time it was not “our word” but pop-culture regurgitated and sensationalised it and parodied it to the point everyone can use it and defend their use of it under some certain context, contexts that are kind of questionable yet “legit” now, as they were created by this pop-culture regurgitation. i.e. “This is made for us too.” You can equally blame the dance and N-word as being “racist” or defend the dance as not being racist but pop-culturally appropriate from different perceptual levels (on where you sit in the whole “pop culture” spectrum.) This is something that is practically designed so that there’s no one true contextual way of seeing it.

    And I’m just speculating now. The “N” word was originally the white persons’ kind of word, wasn’t it? It was originally used a by racist whites, and it was the blacks who then did some sort of recontextualisation and parodying and made it THEIR own.

    So the whole point of “It’s not ours” is kind of… idk, I don’t want to say that we’ve “reclaimed” it because obviously it’s used ironically now by the average white hipster at parties (irony upon irony?) But the whole status of that word – reaching this point – is no real accident or necessarily even an “out of touch” misunderstanding. It’s grossly offensive to what came before it but so was its use when black people started to embrace it. Its offensiveness has always been a part of its urgent point. It is now parodied and recontextualised to the point of “meaninglessness” – but we all know something about that statement still rings disgustingly false.

    I like that the author tried to link a personal experience with more abstract ideas but I don’t think he really did justice to what he felt, deep down, as it all happened. I think something profound DID happen at the party and I’m glad the author brought it up, but I’m not satisfied with the level of depth he took it to.

  28. Agree with the commenters here who are wondering why so many other commenters have a problem with the article and are so quick to defend their behaviour – or that of their fellow white hipsters. Sense of entitlement perhaps? Short on self-reflection perhaps? Good to see that the woman with the padded derriere has had a wake-up call. Also agree that if the author had tried to voice his concerns at the party he would’ve been lucky to get out of there alive.

  29. That is horrific… I feel like the whole “hipster” (god its a terrible, terrible label but need to make myself clear) culture is supposed to be people who are you know, progressive, aware, and clued up on this shit! Like its supposed to be left wing and you know supporting issues of race and gender etc etc………yet here we are! So called “hipster” fashion is pretty darn close to/possibly the same as much “mainstream” fashion. Result you have people dressing the part who are actually uninformed and not at all progressive. Like you get people who people who just wear the clothes but clearly aren’t true inner-melbournites…bit hard to express myself clearly but all I know is none of my friends would stuff there pants with fucking cotton wool for a hip hop party…….who are these people, hopefully I don’t know them…

  30. I am Australian, I am black, I am in my twenties and I have been called the N word along with every other variation in the book multiple times. My voice and voices like mine are so often left out of the conversation as if people like me do not exist and it is enough to enrage me!!!! The N word though it may not be Australian in origin has been adopted by many an Australian and has been incorporated and used in the same vernacular as coon, darkie, abo and yes even monkey. This is a reality for me and many people who look like me, it is a reality a white person will never know not in the same way. It is vicious, it is ugly and the impact it has on your sense of self is enormous!! To see it used as a throwaway and some party and then to be defended by some on here shows a deep and serious lack of empathy. I could go on but I’m not sure what the point would be…..

  31. Do you know what “the gays” did?
    We took back the words; quire, fag, poof, poofter, lesbian, dyke, homo!
    You name it!
    We took them back!!!
    It gives “words” no power over us!
    I say Oprah is wrong, don’t say the word less, say it more!!
    Take it back!!
    Make it just a word!
    Not who you are!

  32. Do you know what “the gays” did?
    We took back the words; fag, poof, poofter, lesbian, dyke, homo! Etc
    You name it!
    We took them back!!!
    It gives “words” no power over us!
    I say Oprah is wrong, don’t say the word less, say it more!!
    Take it back!!
    Make it just a word!
    Not who you are!

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