[Editor's note: As should be abundantly clear by now, the opinions expressed in posts on Serving Tea to Friends are those of the authors and not of the other writers or editors. We encourage our writers to explore their opinions and express them here—that's what this space is about. That being said, please read West's article (also linked below) before critiquing this one. If you still have beef, we want to hear about it. Comment here, on Facebook, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hearts, Lyzi and Anna.]
By now it seems that everyone on the blagoblag has read “A Complete Guide to ‘Hipster Racism’” by Jezebel columnist Lindy West. I’ve read it three times now. Honestly, when a coworker tossed this article my way I didn’t think much of it. Then I saw my friends reposting it on Facebook, and skimming through the comments I saw droves of people saying “This” over and over, and I suddenly became very concerned.
Like West, I believe people need to call each other out on their bullshit, and I’m afraid I might have to step up and do so here. So, I have for you today:
A Complete Guide to ‘Feeling Superior and Deflecting Your Own White Guilt’
Good little self-conscious citizens of the world know that you always have to acknowledge your privilege. This, of course, means you have to simply state that you are a white, middle class, suburbanite. The more obscurely you do this, the better. If you can put it in a footnote at the end of your rant, that’s best, but at least put it in parenthesees (emphasis mine):
It’s the gentler, more clueless, and more insidious cousin of a hick in a hood; the domain of educated, middle-class white people (like me—to be clear, I am one of those) who believe that not wanting to be racist makes it okay for them to be totally racist.
or set off in em dashes (emphasis mine):
People benefit from racism—hell, I benefit from it every day—and things that benefit powerful people don’t just suddenly get “fixed” and disappear because Halle Berry won an Oscar or whatever.
Pay as much lip service as you have to in order to get people to believe that you have humbled yourself, but do not spend more than a sentence on it. Under no circumstances are you to actually think about how your privileged position affects what you have to say and that by drawing attention to things that matter to you as a person of privilege that you might be damaging the cause you are pretending to care about.
Step 2: Trivialize the Oppression You’re Addressing
Your goal here is to make everyone who doesn’t agree with you feel like a complete imbecile. You do this by stating that racism is so simple that even you understand it. Better yet, say that it’s made up! Comparing it with a mythical figure is best.
Race is one of the least complicated issues that there is, because it’s made up. It’s arbitrary. It’s as complicated as goddamn Santa Claus.
Be sure to ignore the fact that there are entire fields of academia devoted to race and that race intersects with sex, class, and gender in a myriad of different ways that increases the complexity of the issue. No, my friend. Race is ‘made up.’ And anyone who doesn’t see that is idiotic. This allows you to elevate yourself above all the plebs you ridicule. The more people who agree with you, the more superior you can feel. You can all be superior together.
Step 3: Isolate a Group of Other People who are ‘Bad’
The key to feeling superior and deflecting your white guilt is focusing as hard as you can on people who do something that is ‘bad.’ Because of step 1 and step 2, whether or not these behaviors have any relevance to people of color’s lives is now irrelevant. Your task here is to take the guilt that you feel for participating in and benefiting from a system that favors you and shove it onto a group of people who are popular to make fun of.
Hipsters. Pick hipsters. Everyone fucking hates hipsters.
Be sure to ridicule this group of ‘bad’ people as much as you can. Everyone hates them, so it doesn’t matter how they feel. By focusing intently on what they do that is perpetuating the disgusting racist cycle, you are now completely absolved from thinking about the things that you do that perpetuate the racist cycle.
Step 4: Protect Defenseless Minority
As we all know, people of color are poor, ignorant, defenseless people who have absolutely no ability to write, read, or criticize those who wrong them. They don’t have a community of people or a diverse set of leaders from different places in the political spectrum who can speak out against the atrocity that you have identified. Therefore, you MUST use your power to defend what YOU think is the greatest threat against them: the inane conversation of your friends. Be sure not to listen to any particular individual person of color in the vicinity who might have his or her own thoughts about such statements. S/He can’t have an objective opinion on the matter. Because racism is so simple, and because you understand it so thoroughly, you are adequately prepared to defend that person’s honor.
Better yet, write an article.
Step 5: Profit
Publish your work for a site widely read by white people so that there are very few people who will call you out on your bullshit, because they are so busy attempting to deflect their on white guilt. They will upvote, share with their friends, say “This.” over and over again, and perhaps get into a debate about whether ‘thug’ truly applies only to black people. This will get you and your website millions upon millions of hits, which your advertisers will love, and you will rake in 1 cent more per hit than you did before. Not only that, but now not only are you not-guilty, you are in fact far superior than you were when you started out.
Don’t you feel better now?