i wondered how young black dudes and dudettes felt about being a twenty something nowadays and dealing with racial tension, especially in the indie/American apparel/hipster social scene. black girls who like white dudes, white girls who like black dudes. what are the underlined feelings and issues that arise? when will this heavy feeling go away? and how come someone can refer to me as ‘white’ and it’s no big deal, but if you refer to someone as ‘black’, you take the chance of them being offended? why is that taken in a negative way? the worst part about it, is that it’s a case by case scenario. so, since there are no rules, you never know who you’re going to offend.
my heritage is Russian and German. but i was born in America. but you don’t refer to me as ‘Russian american’. so, why do we have to say ‘african american’? i was told it’s because all black people originate from Africa and that they didn’t leave because they wanted to- that they were taken as slaves and by calling them ‘African american’ it acknowledges this. it’s a matter of respect. but how politically correct do we need to be nowadays? what’s the general consensus? teach me what i should do. none of this is written in a hateful way. all of this is meant in a loving, trying to figure it all out kinda way.
and ‘white’ people have to stop being afraid to use the word ‘black’. do you, or anyone you know, ever do that avoidance dance by saying ANYTHING else they can to describe what someone looks like, without saying the word ‘black’? and when they finally DO (because ‘black’ is the ONLY descriptive word left that can be used in a situation because there happen to be two dudes who are tall, wearing a blue sweater, jeans, and are brunette at the party) they say ’(full voice) he’s the (whisper) ‘black’ (full voice again) guy.’ this has got to stop! I’m sorry, i don’t have any negative connotation with the word black, and i don’t have any negative connotation with the word white. they are just descriptive terms. how i JUDGE people is by their actions, personality, and attitude towards me. this is on a person to person basis.
here’s an e-mail from a black girl who reads my blog. i told her i wanted to write a piece on contemporary racism and reverse racism that exists in indie culture between young people nowadays. it’s epic and says it all:
“Actually I think if you wrote about racism as honestly as you possibly could that would be fantastic, especially since it is still unfortunately prominent today. For me and my sister it kinda blows because my mom has always taught us just to like, be carefree and love who you want and all that and try to treat everyone the way you want to be treated and whatever zen mantra you could think of, mind you my mom had me at a young age and was a total club kid so we were raised a bit differently which I am so thankful for!!!
Alot of young black kids are all about thug life and that’s fine, but not all black people are like that! I feel like I am constantly judged by white people AND black people and it truly pisses me off and here is why: I get judged by older white people, which isn’t right but understandable because they grew up in the fifties or whatever and their moms and dads were racists, so I get it- but it makes me sad. I think I am pretty awesome and for Christ’s sake I’m not going to rob anyone so don’t look all weird at me when you see me. Also, the black people have an issue with me because they say i ‘sound white’ and the clothing i wear and the music i like. they don’t understand- so they think I’m white. i mean, my grandparents and aunts even say ‘oh, she’s kinda different’ and they are my own fucking family!! Are you serious!? My sister is the same way, but she is more of a tomboy, she into like, i dunno death metal (whatever, it’s her world) but we share the same issues as a whole.
I have a lot of white girlfriends and alot of black girlfriends, but they don’t hang out together. it’s like I have to like jay-z with one group and Uffie with the other group, soooo annoying! So I end up hanging out by myself. That can be dangerous in a good or bad way. But, while I’m on the topic, me being black sometimes gets in the way of trying to find a new mate. like I said, the boys on your site are what I’m into- but I like all guys; black, white, Spanish, Italian, whatevs. It’s just hard because if I see a guy I like, my first thought is ‘oh boy, is he even down with the ‘ebony persuasion’ or am I wasting my time?’ The first white guy I dated, I was head over heels for. he was very intriguing and was in a band and just like sooo gorge! Super pale skin tone reddish brownish hair and a lot of tattoos and he was so sweet to me and I was super into him. He introduced me to his friends and at first they were sweet to my face but I could tell they were giving him a look like ‘is she Spanish or is she black or what?’ His brother also felt compelled to listen to rap or r&b around me, which wasn’t bad, but it felt forced- like that’s all we could relate to or that’s all I listened to or something, which was very weird because he knew I liked a lot of other things.
Eventually me and the hot redhead just remained friends, but it sucks that it’s hard for a girl like me to find a guy like me and not have race be an issue. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I’m black. I’m proud of it! but damn! I am sure I’d have to work twice as hard to get the guys you interview (other than Rickey Kim) because of my skin tone. I’m 5’8 and I weigh 120lbs, so I know it’s not because I’m a fat ass and I haven’t been beaten with an ugly stick (at least I think not) so what the fuck?! Okay wow this email got very long winded but um if you want me to elaborate more or if you have a specific question about this topic or anything else feel free to ask! I have a terribly bad habit of rambling… Keep up the great work!!
ps: I just wanted to say that tonight I went out with my white friends and the white guy I liked- my white friend got with!! He looked at me and realized I wasn’t spanish and totally blew me off!! Put that as an example is your race post!!! I have a case of the sads!!! Sorry alexi for emailing you wayy late, just wanted to let you know.”
hi. my name is Alexi Wasser. i don’t know if you know this, but i am white. i’m practically see through. I’m not a ghost haunting you, or following you down the street. I’m just a person. a really pale person. Conan O’Brien could be my father. I’d prefer it if he was my husband, but he’s married and my crush on him is another post all together. the other day, while i was walking around my neighborhood, i stopped in a shop and happened to know the guy who worked there. he was not white, he was not black, he was not Asian. he was something else. I’m not sure what his ethnicity was exactly, so i won’t try to label him. he was a babe, but so far, that’s not ethnicity exclusive. he was talking to an Asian guy. a video of two dudes wrestling or skate boarding or something played on the TV screen, mounted to the wall above us. the shop dude wanted to show me a vimeo video on his laptop.
while i was watching the video, a black dude walked in. the black dude asked the shop dude who the guy on the TV screen was. the shop dude replied “i don’t know. some Asian dude.” he said this in a completely non sarcastic, straightforward way. and even though i was watching the vimeo, because I’m not deaf, i shivered. this could go either way. the shop dude had set up a perfect scenario for someone to be offended. isn’t there a difference between using the words Asian, white, black, Latino, etc to describe what someone looks like in a crowd- and using them in a racist manner? this was no time for logic. i was already feeling guilty and i hadn’t done anything wrong. I’m not even sure if the shop guy had done anything wrong. all i know is that by describing someone by their ethnicity alone, he was setting himself up for trouble.
i was right. the black dude said “oh, he’s an Asian dude?” he lifted the Asian dudes shirt up and said “Is that you? you’re Asian. you must be the same guy on the TV screen. he’s just some Asian dude.” holy shit. the shop guy had triggered some gnarly shit that was weighing quite heavily in the black dudes soul and because of all my white guilt, i wanted to hug the black guy and say “I’m so sorry. he didn’t mean it. i love black people. people are not ONLY their race. duh?! I’m sure the shop guy didn’t mean any harm!” but i didn’t. i tried to mind my own business. this wasn’t about me. this was about the black dude and shop dude. but mainly the black dude was projecting all his internal issues with a group of three young people in a shop that hadn’t done anything wrong.. really.
well, at least i tried to mind my own business – that is, until the black dude pointed at his white gf/wife whatever she was, who was at the other end of the store shopping with their kids, looked at me and shouted “Are you two related?!” i was shocked. wtf? i was watching a fucking vimeo. i looked up, looked the black dude in the eye, and looked at his white gf/wife and said “huh?” he repeated himself “i said, are you related to her? you two look the same!” i stood there, dumbfounded. my worst nightmare was coming true. i was straight up being accused of being racist. and i hadn’t even said anything remotely stupid and cavalier like the shop dude had. how did i get dragged into this? i should have just laughed, but my white guilt and need to be liked took over. so instead, i said “are you asking me if we’re related because we’re both white?” the black guy nodded. that’s when i knew i should/could have taken the high road and been an adult. but I’m Alexi, i don’t know how to do that most of the time… unless I’m being paid. than i can be totally logical and rational. at a crossroads of ways to respond, i finally picked a road and shouted “i am NOT racist! i’m not racist! what did i do? what did i do?” it was like bad middle school theatre.
the black dude yelled to everyone in the store (including his family, which i thought was super inapro-pro) “i guess all all mother-fuckin’ ni**ers look the same! fuckin’ bullshit!” holy shit! he said the ‘n’ word. hard ‘r’ and everything. i was shocked. i couldn’t handle it. i told the shop dude goodbye and left immediately. for some reason, i still had the urge to win over this crazy dude- but i kept walking and blew off some steam at urban outfitters.
what was i feeling? a multitude of things. i realized, i live my life constantly worried that black people think i’m racist. and this day made me confront that. i suffer from reverse racism. i can walk down the street and not smile at a single white, Asian, Latino person that crosses my path, but the minute i see a black person, i feel the need to exude warmth and smile so they know that i am NOT racist. why do i do this? I’m pretty sure it’s because my dad is 22% racist. not in an ‘i want to kill black people/ ku-klux- klan’ kinda way, just the occasional insulting joke. which to me is pretty fucking fucked up enough. i also always got the impression that he wouldn’t want me to date or marry a black dude. i had black friends growing up and he had friendships with black people and has taken amazing photos of Martin Luther king, etc. but, it was just this underlined ‘thing’ i felt was being taught and instilled in me. it didn’t stick and, instead, it made me not like my dad. which makes me sad. his behavior made me not like him. i don’t speak to my dad anymore, for a number of reasons. he made gay jokes too, just as much as he made comments about black people and cultural stereotypes.
all that aside- now, i have this whole reverse racism thing happening, and i’d like to find a happy medium and lose the guilt. once i even paid a house cleaner (who just happened to be black), even though she didn’t do a goddamn thing and I caught her sitting on my futon eating chips, watching TV when I got home. And not only did I pay her, I over tipped the shit out of her. That is an example of white guilt. how does this help ANYONE? i am not racist. i like people. if you are nice to me and we get along, great. if we don’t, we don’t. it isn’t based on what your skin color is. I’ve been talking to a lot of my black friends (yeah i have black friends), and we’ve been discussing the struggles of racism that exist even now in 2009- and more specifically the problems that arise in this bizarro hipster culture that my target demographic exists in. after the shop encounter, one of my white friends said, “earth to Alexi, some black people just don’t like white people.” i was shocked. “what? why? how could they hate ME? what did i do?” i mean, of course i understand why black people would hate white people. i obviously understand that, which is why i feel so guilty and am so eager to please.
other things I’d like to get off my chest and get over- which stem from my being super white, is that i feel embarrassed listening to Lil Wayne in my car with the windows rolled down, because i think it just looks too retarded. but that’s a whole other post. i don’t think of Lil Wayne as ‘black music’ exclusively for black people. i listen to jazz and oldies and Motown and can have the windows down. i think the lil Wayne thing just has to do with the lifestyle he paints and how everything i look like, down to the car i drive has no place in that life style. i drive a scion, have a leggo haircut, and am so white i could be dead. me listening to gangsta rap looks ridiculous. i hope we can all agree on that. i will forever remain the white dude from office space when it comes to listening to rap. but i love Lil Wayne. he’s such a great lyricist…. and his voice makes me wanna sexxx. (to be continued)