I’ve watched and shared this video so many times that I figured I should blog about it. The poets are Kai Davis (left) and Safiya Washington (right) of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement performing at last year’s Brave New Voices semi-finals.
The term “hipster racism” was coined by Carmen Van Kerckhove at Racialicious and refers to using racist language “ironically”. But I would go a step further and say that the hipster lifestyle is quite racist in and off itself and Davis and Washington’s performance perfectly encapsulates why that is. As s.e. Smith explained back in 2009:
Hipsters are a driving force behind gentrification, driving out low income people and people of colour. They consistently co-opt and appropriate elements of other cultures, piecemeal, and often without any cultural sensitivity or respect. They regularly draw upon the work and legacy of people of colour, usually without crediting them, and most of their contact with people of colour comes in the form of the service personnel serving them their food, cleaning their wine bars, and picking their organic produce.
This can be seen in the reaction to the video. In my experience, people either love or hate it and those who hate it are more often than not (surprise surprise!) white hipsters who complain that Davis and Washington’s performance is too angry, too aggressive. They’re basically demanding that people who are routinely insulted and oppressed by the world around them temper their criticisms to spare the feelings of the oppressor. Fuck that!
By Robert Stanton | February 19, 2013 | Updated: February 19, 2013 5:51pm
Marcus Davis is resolute. As many times as vandals paint over a mural of President Barack Obama, he will repair the damage over and over again.
“There is an endless supply of paint,” said Davis, 41, who opened The Breakfast Klub in 2001. “This mural is symbolic of the presidency of Barack Obama. He wakes up every day to obstacles and challenges far greater than a doggone mural being defaced. If he has the level of courage and type of character that causes him to continue to go on, I’ll be damned if I stop.”
Just days after Davis stopped a possible vandal from defacing a mural of President Obama, the restaurateur said he’s not about to let his guard down.