The online magazine, The Root, posted an article today called “The Rise of the Black Hipster: What Happens When the Hybrid Hispter Culture Hits Black America?”. I was excited to read something on like this from the perspective of a black writer, especially because I’ve been called this annoying word. Ultimately, though, I was a bit disappointed…
“By now, the traits of hipsterism are easily recognizable to culture vultures: Hipsters are white, urban, occasionally privileged, attitudinally earnest and functionally alternative. They live life at the intersection of Pabst Blue Ribbon and day-glo leggings—worn with irony, or maybe not. They listen to indie darlings like Pavement, or anthem rockers like Arcade Fire. Maybe even a little Wu-Tang. Everything obscure is good; a headband on some longhair of a man; a waifish girl sporting several thick gold chains.
“..So just what is a black hipster—a “blipster” or “alt-black”? Like many recent cultural trends, this one straddles race, politics, fashion and art. For the purposes of discussion, we’ll stick with men (though I have seen some Flock of Seagulls-looking black females out and about of late). As Lauren Cooper, a Howard University graduate who admits to an indie lifestyle, puts it, “It’s probably easier to pick out a black male ‘blipster’ than a female.”
“Say what you will about the blipsters and their crazy tastes—but we should have seen it coming. Black folks have had plenty of role models when it comes to edgy style. Dwayne Wayne, a character on A Different World and one of the earliest templates for today’s blipsters, wore flip-up sunglasses without irony. Black rockers like Prince laid the track for musicians such as Brooklyn-based TV on the Radio, singer Kelis, who famously “screamed on a track” or even hip-hopper Jim Jones, who’s partnered with fairy-funk act MGMT and once declared himself “too fat to fit into those skinny pants.” And don’t forget the sheets, diapers and hot pants worn by Parliament Funkadelic and Earth, Wind and Fire. In short, blipsters are proof that everything old is new again.”
I like that in response to the article someone comments about pointing out the irony of black kids dressing like white kids, who are in turn dressing like Black and Latino kids from the ’80s. This article lumps together all Black people who do unusual things and calls them “Blipsters”, which is unfortunate, especially since “blipster” sounds like a foot callous.