Seattle, Washington based author Ijeoma Oluo recently penned an article entitled “Uncomfortable Fact: Hipster Racism is often-well intentioned” published in the Guardian. Her article opens with the erroneous proclamation that racists of the past are extinct. While I agree traditional racial-hate-inspired lynchings have ceased, they’ve been replaced by our law enforcement’s habitual murder of unarmed minorities, primarily Blacks and Latinos. Racially motivated murder is still a hate crime…regardless of method. Those racists aren’t extinct, they’ve just gotten off the streets by co-opting our criminal justice system.
According to the Sentencing Project’s 2005 study “Uneven Justice”, Blacks are incarcerated in Washington State, at a higher rate than the national average, which is far higher than the Caucasian incarceration rate, even though per capita, the crime rate amongst both racial groups is similar.
Ms. Oluo then attempts to justify that racist conduct of hipsters doesn’t make them racist because they claim ignorance, therefore cannot be called racist. Nothing epitomizes a text book example of entitled white privilege more than this pathetic excuse. It’s as ridiculous as claiming rape is acceptable because the perpetrator didn’t know it was wrong. Her attempt to separate racists from their racist conduct, while well-intentioned, is ill-conceived. When someone commits rape, we call them a rapist. When someone acts in a racially discriminatory manner…we rightly call them racists.
While I agree with her that people of color face passive and institutional racism on a daily basis, by attempting to allow racists to avoid responsibility for discriminatory acts because of the entitled white privilege excuse of ignorance, she undermines her own message.
I’m not saying anyone should take an extremist stance. I’m saying we shouldn’t shy away of calling out a racist for their racially discriminatory conduct. The main reason the Klu Klux Klan and the Nazi movement aren’t the prominent civic organizations they once were is specifically because good people demonstrated the courage to call their members racists as a consequence of their racial discriminatory conduct. History clearly demonstrates the most effective way to address racism is to call out and shame racists wherever we find them, loudly and continuously.
This is 2015…if hipsters don’t know they’re being racist, they’ve been living under a rock their entire life…which is extremely unlikely.
Bob Lewis is a father of four, grandfather of two (so far…), who lives in Washington State. His goal is to inspire his readers to consider my words and hopefully address these issues individually through civic and public engagement. You can reach and find more of Bob’s writings at One Citizen’s Opinion