Gentrification, Hipsters and “Ghetto Chic.”

This post by Wendy Muse on Racialicious just about sums up (really well) what I have been feeling about the hipsters all up in “our hoodz stealin all our fashionz.” I also feel old as I wore door knockers the first time around (NY in the 80’s) eeek.
Muse is discussing all her personal negotiations and some of the political stakes involved with “ghetto chic.” She says,

For one, it’s a matter of nomenclature. The term “ghetto� is evocative of “negative� images (poverty, housing projects, crime, drug use, lack of education), and remains racialized by the media. Ghettoes and poverty are typically associated with blacks and Latinos, even though as a result of the racial demographics of the United States, there are technically more poor whites. According to a U.S. Census Bureau Press Release from 2003, though “non-Hispanic whites had a lower poverty rate than other racial groups, [they] accounted for 44 percent of the people in poverty,� which makes me wonder why whites are virtually ignored in discussions of class and blacks and Latinos are always assumed to make up the majority of the poor population in this country. . . but that’s another article.

A few months ago I was sitting in a coffee shop in my neighborhood, a coffee shop I can no longer go to as I may fight somebody, and this white “hipster” boy sat down across from me wearing a red bandana tied on the front of his head, Tupac style. That’s right, he was “GANGSTA.” I am not laughing. I shot him the nastiest look and freaked him out so he didn’t want to share the table with me, but I was raging inside.
I worked in the schools in and around San Francisco’s Mission District for about 5 years and am very familiar with the problems that are tearing our schools apart and our communities. Our kids didn’t wear red. And I thought about how this kid, moved into the Mission and was just walking around wearing a flag, like he is on some shit. I thought that god forbid if he got shot (which is highly unlikely, I don’t want to further sensationalize gang violence the way the media does) how the media would cover it. They wouldn’t say anything about his ignorance of any of the local politics or any of the racist ways that these people just move on in and visually violate these communities. To move into a community, uninformed, taking from it, not giving back and flaunting your expensive Ipod and “ghetto chic” accessories, is a form of violence.
I may be sounding like a hater, and maybe I am just too old to get it, but I AM FED UP WITH THESE KIDS. I hate Vice Magazine and I hate this attitude that pretty much says, “I am so passed racist, I can act like this.” Wake up asshole, look around you, you are part of the problem.
This is much less articulate than Wendy’s post, lol. I wrote about this a few years ago, when I had heard about the “Kill Whitey,” parties in Brooklyn. I had hoped that the trend was dying out, but I was oh so wrong. I am so moving back to Oakland (although I hear they are invading there as well).

Join the Conversation

  • JonesingforaDem

    I really didn’t mean to single you out of the whole discussion – like I said, I’ve entered sort of at the very end, and one of your comments was that last one in line that struck me before I entered my own. There have been a lot of perspectives put forward in this string, which is a good thing – it’s better to talk about these things than not to.

  • Samhita

    Thanks JonesingforaDem. Thank you to all of you that put so much time into this comments thread.
    Organizing work, community building and anti-racist work is painful and takes time. It involves crying and literally tearing yourself inside to see things that we are systematically taught not to.
    This conversation may have just made everyone mad and exhausted, but there is a lesson in it, even if it is subtle and happens after the fact.
    Thanks for those being brave and explaining themselves so extensively and thoroughly, even when it is so fucking painful and frustrating when it feels like no matter what you say, people just don’t get it.
    I am going to shut down comments, but am totally open to continuing this conversation via email with a group of you that would like to continue.