OK, let’s get this straight: No, I’m not going to dedicate this post to vomiting a list of racial microaggressions I’ve encountered over my young yet eventful life—wait a second… Who am I kidding? Hipsters and indie music lovers alike (or anyone willing to listen), lend me your ears: I’m talking to you. Grab a seat and listen.
I’m angry. As a black woman living in South Carolina, a conservative state dedicated to tradition, normalcy and homogeneity, I stand out. I’m a liberal. Gay marriage? Of course I support it. Pro-choice, progressive, and left-leaning. It’s frustrating living in a state that discourages and, in many instances, condemns opposing perspectives; people like me feel excluded rather than included, noticed but erased, underrepresented and invisible. Oh, I forgot to mention: I’m a black hipster. I don’t necessarily enjoy labels but hipster is brave. Hipster poignantly describes my interests.
Hipster: staid and indifferent to trends, one with cultured tastes, a penchant for fine art, craft beers, obscure music, literature, freethinking and minimalism. Sure, my definition appears fixed but in actuality it’s an umbrella term: I’m holding the handle safe and comfortably underneath, constantly changing direction to fit my needs.
Like many individuals who identify with certain social categories or labels, hipster is malleable and dynamic. Despite its fluidity in theory, several encounters with members of the hipster community suggests an unwavering, fixed rather than fluid group. Whether I’m testing new equipment at Guitar Center, supporting an indie band at a local venue, or chatting with concert-goers for example, naturally, I’m aware of the public’s grimace: bold, surprised, fascinated, paranoid.
I don’t belong: Black bodies, historically and socially, were not meant to exist in white spaces. America’s extensive history of oppression, marginalization, and exclusion undoubtedly plays a huge role in normalizing this feeling of Otherness. By defying cultural norms and adopting interests associated with whiteness, I’ve endured [racial] microaggressions cloaked in ignorance, masquerading as compliments: “Woah, a black hipster? I’ve never met a black girl who likes indie…you’re not really black!” “You talk so white.” “You’re not like those black people.” “You’re the whitest-black-girl.” On numerous occasions I’ve held back tears, averting my gaze to conceal shame. Hoping to gain acceptance from a community that treated me like a science project, an anomaly; a strange find even to the most experienced collector, I silenced and minimized my experiences.
The biting, icy truth is this: the hipster community is a reflection on how America confronts, interacts and understands difference. More specifically, how black bodies fit in a predominantly white male sphere, deeply rooted in power and privilege.
What will it take, America? Society promotes individuality but condemns those who go too far, immobilizing many who dare to speak up. I beg you, open your eyes. Embrace those clinging on the rim of society, they, too, matter. Don’t ostracize, include.
I enjoy indie/rock music. Sometimes, I listen to country (gasp!). Yes, my skin is black. My skin color is not an invitation for ignorance. Sure, my passions don’t scream “black-girl-livin’-in-the-South,” but as long as society fails to promote inclusivity, many will continue to feel like outsiders.
We all matter.
Republished. Originally Posted at Noise Porn