Here I want to delve into what I’m calling hipster anti-racism. It’s a term I’m using to describe those moments when (usually) white folks perform anti-racist/liberatory attitudes about a racialized issue in an attempt to appear subversive and often “hip.”
Unlike hipster racism, it is not a performance of ironic racism but actually a performance of anti-racist attitude as a signifier of hipness. It is important to understand that hipster anti-racism can be performed by anyone, not just those we characteristically label as hipsters. Hipster anti-racism is defined by by being 1) insincere, 2) momentary, 3) subversive for the sake of being hip and not for a deeper dismantling of systems of power and oppression, and 4) present in rhetoric almost exclusively, with little indication of substantive shifts towards anti-racist behavior or action.
In other words, hipster anti-racism, like much of hipsterdom, is defined by its appropriation and lack of historicity. In this case, it is an anti-racism that is not making an effort to link itself into broader histories and communities of anti-racist struggle. Note that I don’t think every instance of momentary engagement with race and racialization is an instance of hipster anti-racism. Those moments, could, after all, signify the beginnings of an awakening to ideas of privilege/power and anti-racism. It is only when someone’s anti-racism is only and continually displayed through those momentary engagements (rather than a deeper and more actionable shift in consciousness) that I think it wanders into the category of hipster anti-racism. I’m not saying we all have to (or can) become full-time anti-racist activists, but I am saying that if you’re going to talk about racism all the time, your actions had better align a little better with your rhetoric."