I saw him sit down next to me on the train, one seat away. Tall, skinny, pale, meticulously groomed dark goatee, black thick frame glasses, black skinny jeans and striped shirt. All of it warned me that my face down in a book would not be taken as a nonverbal “don’t talk to me” but an invitation. A very hipster invitation.
He didn’t actually address me, he just kept leaning over, glancing at the book and away. I rolled my eyes, looked up, and met his gaze.
“Oh sorry! I just wanted to see what you were reading.”
I tilted the front cover towards him.
He nodded. I returned to the line I was reading.
I nodded, continuing to read.
“What’s it about?”
This was inevitable I guess.
“Mostly race and representation in the media.”
I read on.
“So, what exactly is the focus?”
I place my pencil between the pages I was on and shut the book.
“Have you read bell hooks before?”
White Hipster looked around in thought as if to say, “of all the many authors I’ve read I just can’t recall off the top of my very smart, very cultured head.” But he decided to answer honestly.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Well her work is mostly on antiblack racism and feminist theory.”
I tried to open my book.
“And by antiblack racism you mean…?”
I looked directly in his eyes as he struggled to seem like he knew exactly what I was talking about. I really wanted to hear this.
He was waiting for me to finish.
“It’s just a term that addresses how all global racism is founded in the hatred of blackness.”
“Oh right, right.”
This made rational sense to White Hipster.
I turned back to my book.
“So what’s the answer?”
I think he caught that eye roll.
“There is no answer.”
“Then what’s the point of reading it?”
I should’ve slapped Hipster White right there. But to be honest, maybe he deserved a round of applause, because that was the whitest thing I have ever heard. I’ve been blessed to grow up in some pretty white towns my whole life, but this took the cake. The very white cake.
I held eye contact to make sure this was actually a serious question. I thought of going on a rant. Reading his entire entitled white male hipster life. But I was patient with White Hipster.
“It articulates things you feel but you don’t know how to say.”
He nodded his head as if to say “While I still don’t understand what black mythology you’re reading, I see your point and sympathize with your plight, black woman.”
White Hipster got off at the next stop.
I don’t know what the answer is to European globalization and white supremacy. I have ideas, but zero solutions. I don’t pretend to know all the answers either.
If my writings, on this blog and on social media, or even my rants if you know me in person, make it seem like I do – you’re greatly mistaken.
All I have is my perspective. And I am very unapologetically vocal about my perspective. It’s taken me a long time to recognize and appreciate my perspective, so, if only for now, I won’t stop yelling.
Please never mistake my perspective for absolute truth. I have not read enough, seen enough, listened enough, or lived enough to know even half of the truth. I only know what I’ve felt and experienced. I write that out in the hopes that by doing so I can better understand what it all means in the context of the world. And my joy is finding that there are others who have felt the same way.
I believe supporters of this blog appreciate my writing because they too take joy in having feelings, often invalidated but nevertheless there, articulated.
There is power in having your experiences validated.
This empowerment could not be understood by White Hipster because he has never experienced such a level of rejection and denial. As a white male, he will never have to experience such erasure.
For those who are forced to live on the margins, a simple acknowledgment that our reality is as we feel and not what we’ve been told – empowers.
Do not let White Hipsters and the like convince you that engaging in content created for and by marginalized people is a waste of time.
White Hipster is just frustrated that for once he is confronted with something that will not bend to fit his narrow, self-centered view of the world.
You do not have to have all the answers.
Just keep reading.