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Just A Whole Lot of Hollerin’: A Response to the Response to Jezebel’s White Girl Hip Hop Article

16 Jun

Screen shot White Girls Covering Hip Hop Hits article

On Monday, Jezebel editor Irin Carmon posted a short piece called “White Girls Covering Hip Hop Hits” (obviously) about the apparent growing phenomenon of Caucasian females covering hip hop songs on YouTube. I thought it was decent and intriguing and I was very curious to see what kind of comments people would leave below the article. Because subject matter like that should definitely inspire some interesting comments.

And oh, how it did.

What started off as a discussion over the point of the article in the discussion thread turned into a heated, long-winded, and often confusing internet fight about discrimination, appropriation, reparations and all those other fun race topics. I wasn’t surprised that a heated discussion happened, but I was a bit surprised by how quickly it blew up. When I first read the article earlier this week, I didn’t feel the need to comment (I often don’t comment on random articles because it seems like no matter what you say, someone will pick a fight with you), but after reading through the comments today, I decided to get a few things off my chest here. So here’s what I’d like to address:

The “What is the point of this article?” Question. I wasn’t confused by the article, but I was thoroughly confused by this question. I thought the points Carmon was making were that a.) you don’t see white girls rapping that often, so it’s still a novelty when you do, and there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just out of the norm; and b.) the lyrics, which are at times misogynistic, are reappropriated when they come out of the mouths of white females instead of non-white males. Done and done. Why wasn’t this clear to more people? (Seriously, I really want to know, drop a comment if you have some insight on this. Totally open to disagreement.)

The “New Generation” Sermon. After people got all sorts of pissy, one of the most vocal posters, who goes by the username VisforVanity, repeatedly asserted that she is not racist because she is part of a diverse, aware “new generation” “where racism is watering down.” I’m sorry, but comments like this make my eyes literally roll all the way to the back of my head. I don’t know anything about whoever VisforVanity really is in RL other than the fact that she says she’s 19. But I’m only 28 and not too far removed from this “new generation,” and I’ve had people my age and younger say blatantly prejudice or accidentally racist things to me, and recently. No, my experience with racism is nothing like my mother’s, who went through desegregation; or like my grandmother’s, who was probably called “gal” more times than she’d would’ve liked to admit. My experiences, for the most part, have been a lot more tame. But I don’t believe this “new generation” business. Not yet. I’ll credit this kind of hopeful but ignorant thinking to VisforVanity’s youth. I don’t think she’s racist, just young.

The Tangents. Somehow commenters start going off about reparations and Israel. Seriously? I thought we were talking about YOUTUBE VIDEOS. Yes, I get that the mostly seemingly harmless pop culture minutiae can justifiably inspire larger necessary social conversations, but let’s take it down a notch. ‘Cause you know, THEY’RE YOUTUBE VIDEOS.

I’m going to repeat myself, but I really feel the need to reiterate that in the end, this piece was about novelty. Imagine if Ice-T or ODB or 50 covered “On the Good Ship Lollipop.” Tell me that wouldn’t get seven million hits on YouTube.

The article was also about irony, which Carmon also notes. In the all-girl, a cappella video cover for “Bitches Ain’t Shit,” the chicks are rocking flipped collars, knee socks and tennis rackets. We all know that’s fashion code for WASP. Homegirls knew what they were doing.

Sigh. I feel better, but I’m fully aware that I might need to brace myself for a possible internet fight with someone about this post, seeing as how my blog is so popular (up to four readers now). Let me know what you think y’all.

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised…It Will Be Tweeted

27 May

So as my readers (or reader — ha!) know, I only recently converted to the blogging and tweeting community after having ignored it for a long time, and, to be honest, I never really took Twitter specifically that seriously. Well, yesterday, I got an education in the power of the 140-character revolt.

Stevie Koerner “I Heart NY” necklace

Stevie Koerner's “I Heart NY” necklace.

Urban Outfitters I Heart Destination Necklace

Urban Outfitters' I Heart Destination Necklace

Yesterday, blogger Amber Karnes, known as @amberkarnes on Twitter, lit up the social media world with a tweet concerning the allegation (and apparent truth) that Urban Outfitters blatantly ripped off a necklace design by Etsy crafter Stevie Koerner. Karnes got retweeted at exactly the same lightening speed that bunnies reproduce, and before she knew it, she was trending in the U.S. and the Urban Outfitters necklace had abruptly disappeared from the website. You can read a comprehensive breakdown of how it went down on Karnes’ blog. As of this morning, the necklace is still gone from the UO site and UO’s Twitter page hasn’t been active in almost 24 hours.

Now, it should be noted that a.) UO has apparently done this before, b.) folks say design-stealing in the fashion world is a pretty common thing (doesn’t make it ok though), and c.) a commenter in a Huffington Post article about yesterday’s events says that Koerner herself got the design idea from someone else. But despite all of that, this is still a fascinating, inspiring story. I used to think Twitter was just a silly, self-indulgent waste of time, but yesterday’s events, the fact that one tweet (motivated by a Tumblr and Facebook post) resulted in a huge company getting called out on their BS…it excites the hell out of me. I know, I know, this is not the first time Twitter has had a major impact in real life and it’s not like Twitter is the ’10s virtual equivalent of San Francisco in the 1960s, all admirable revolution and activism, but still — strength in numbers and smart phones, yo. I’m definitely going to keep following this story, and I do believe I’ll be putting the kibosh on my UO shopping for a while and hit up my favorite Etsy and local ground shops instead (where I found some supercool wooden Pac-Man earrings yesterday — WERK).

¡Viva la (social media) Revolución!