Far East LA and other sh*t I don’t like.

I found a new phrase.

Hipster Racism, I found it at Racialicious, the ladies over there are so smart.

“I define hipster racism (I’m borrowing the phrase from Carmen Van Kerckhove) as ideas, speech, and action meant to denigrate another’s person race or ethnicity under the guise of being urbane, witty (meaning “ironic” nowadays), educated, liberal, and/or trendy.”
AJ Plaid, Racialicious

I used to just call it the “tattooed, pseudo progressive, over-educated, asshole” problem, but this is much better.

Back in the day (the 90s) an ethnic minority in Los Angeles only had to stay away from Republican areas and never visit the Southern part of the United States (or the South Bay, oh let’s throw in Covina and Tujunga too) and they would be shielded from being openly mocked owing to what they were ethnically (not from being harassed by the cops, they will always be a problem), but those days are over.

We can now enjoy being mocked by Obama supporting, vegetarian diet, Ivy League graduate liberals, with “multi-colored” sex partners. Well thank god. We’ve come so far.

I first noticed this phenomenon at a party in Culver City during an Al Gore support party. Lots of white liberals, saying all kinds of appropriate things, you know referring to black people as African-American. The kind of liberal that learned a second language on a mom and dad financed gap year in some “exotic” locale, you know the type.

As the drinking started there seemed to be some kind of consensus that Armenians were a menace. Joke after joke was told about them. Some Asian people can’t drive jokes where also thrown in for good measure. I asked them, “WTF?” And they told me to loosen up and stop being so, “PC”.

At that point I left and went back to Silver Lake. I thought this must be some kind of 310 thing. I decided to never return to the 310.

But as a few years passed, my little 323 began to change. Silver Lake, became SILVERLAKE and the bohemian artists (with day jobs as baristas and office temps and maybe an AA from up the street and cheap college) types moved away to be replaced with more refined richer artists (with day jobs as film production big wigs and ad people with a BA from NYU) type people with very expensive tattoos, not the type you get in exchange for a cool zine collection, but the type you get when you have 500 dollars to drop at one time on some nice ink.

Hell, even Beck moved the hell out of there.

But it wasn’t just Silver Lake that changed. It’s changed across the whole country.

Racism has gone from being an old man game of the greatest generation and baby boomers to the Generation X and Generation Y set. I foolishly thought people of my generation wouldn’t be that way. I thought people of my generation, regardless of race, if they were educated and liberal they would never be racist, but unfortunately that has not happened.

In Williamsburg, Brooklyn (hipster capital East) at the Air Guitar Championships the ugly face of racism popped up:

Here’s an except of a letter than recounts what happened in Williamsburg.

“Many of us were shocked and astounded that US Air Guitar would allow one of the judges (the man on the right) to spew racist comments about Asians (apparently referring to Japanese or other Asian contestants as “nips” and “riceballs”). The gist of his rant was that Americans had to defend their honor by not letting Asians dominate the competition” from a letter to the US Air Guitar Championship Organizers by Francis Hsueh and Steven Hahn Jimmy Lee Christine Lee

(source Angry Asian Man)

And it’s not just incident like this. It’s how people and neighborhoods are referred to on blogs. The term illegal is viewed as a free speech issue (a very entertaining one in fact), the fact that it is insulting to human beings who live here seems to be a minor point.

The San Gabriel Valley a predominantly Asian-American suburb in Los Angeles is called Far East LA and that’s supposed to be funny and clever. It’s not funny nor is it clever.

And the use of the term bitch in the blogosphere to denigrate women and to denigrate men (which is a double insult, because it implies acting like a woman is weak.) Bitch is used so much, I almost forget that it’s sexist until I look at the staff and topics of the blogs and magazines that like using it.

This sarcastic witty liberal humor is also in our high schools (no doubt encouraged by the very youth geared blogosphere.)

At Charter Oaks High School in the Los Angeles suburban community of Covina the yearbook staff thought it would be funny to change the African-American students who were members of the Black Student Union to the “entertaining” names of: “Tay Tay Shaniqua,” “Crisphy Nanos” and “Laquan White.”

Pretty fucking funny, isn’t it?

People in the past always said, “We didn’t know.”

So for your information I’m just putting it out there that we don’t like it.

Women and people of color don’t think this new kind of clever “sarcasm” is funny or clever or thought provoking and while we know you are not going to stop, don’t say we didn’t tell you.

Browne Molyneux

This entry was posted in Blogs, East Los, Greater Los Angeles, history, Media, Politica, The Ethnics and tagged , , by Browne Molyneux. Bookmark the permalink.

About Browne Molyneux

My name is Browne Molyneux. I'm a lady. I'm a radical feminist. I'm black. I'm an Angeleno. I'm an artist. I'm carFREE. I'm a freelance writer. I'm a blogger. I'm a philosopher. I'm a humanist. I'm a journalist. I formerly wrote a column on transportation, Tracks for LA City Beat. The above are all of the things I have to work on being, got questions email me. browne@shametrainla.com My topics of interests include but are not limited to politics, transportation, dark green issues, economics, race relations, feminism, culture, working class urban life, media, art, Los Angeles and literature.

23 thoughts on “Far East LA and other sh*t I don’t like.

  1. These are from the Los Anjealous blog stream (i think). Yes, exactly. The problem is the context. If you see these pictures in a space that doesn’t really go into depth about PoC or social issues and you see that, what do you think? What positive action could possibly come from these pictures, in that context? What are those pictures saying?

    People say a pictures says a thousands words, but to me it’s not just the pictures but the space and context which the pictures are shown, especially when it has to do with people.

    It’s like in your head you think, “What you think this is funny?” No better yet you think this “inspirational,” what am I a fucking dog or sunset or some kind of thing…

  2. I’m really confused by this thing about the photos.

    They seem to be from someone who is known and respected by other LAEastside bloggers, who give lots of props in the comments section. How is Losanjealous involved? Please explain the whole thing, I don’t get it.

  3. Just putting out that I have no idea who the photos were from. Just making an observation from the one of our commentators.

    I was simply commenting from an objective position and I noticed they were from losanjealous.

  4. Hipster Racism, i get it. I’ve seen it and have experienced it. I’ve lived in Silverlake for about 7 years now and i’ve seen that next level transition you speak of. I’m fortunate enough to have latino landlords that live in the building, think of me as their sobrina and give ridiculously low rent for anywhere in los angeles or else i’d move.

    A friend of a friend calls hipsters Hamsters.
    And though I’m sure you’ve seen this here it is anyways

  5. I graduated from Charter Oak High and found it embarrassing that possibly some of my old friends or even friend’s siblings in the yearbook staff might have had a hand in such action. This is coming from a suburb where a number of third and fourth generation Mexicanos have leaned towards looking down on heritage and culture in general. I am not really included as such, being that I am the firstborn in this country in my familia, but I remember several instances of being told things like:

    1. “Gosh, you are being way too chola.”
    2. “Why are you speaking Spanish? We’re in America!”
    3. “Why do you care if they (undocumented workers) have rights? Why don’t you go back with them to where they came from?”

    What’s worse, is that this didn’t come from my Asian, African-American, or even my White peers! It always came from my Mexican/Latino friends who tried to hide who they were, be it with dress, musical taste, or claiming their fair complexion had no ties to any sort of ethnic distinction. I got a sense over time, that maybe they were resentful or maybe they were not taught about culture and their personal ancestral heritage. I am not here to judge, rather I am here to understand the vast complexities of growing up in such a diverse place. This was just one of many encounters I had with the interaction of race and racism in the San Gabriel Valley… where I call home.

    Browne, good observation. It is interesting to see this continuing evolution of racism in our country that is so destructive, yet so veiled in society.

  6. racism? i find what people say in private or at a party with alcohol on hand to be quite different from insitutional racism (slavery, jim crow laws) or blatant discrimination in the work place or in public education. frankly, i dislike what my own “raza” has to say about this country at times…we sound like a bunch of whiners..racism, racism…we should not cry “racism” so much…we are wearing out the true meaning of the word…

  7. As one of the racist hipsters in that photo, I’m going to take a stand and say that I’m deeply offended by being identified as a hipster. As a woman of color, I can’t be defined as racist, so that doesn’t bother me, but the hipster thing…. man… that hurts.

    People should really be mindful of the strong hate words they throw around on the internet, even when they think they are anonymous. Some people would be WAY more offended than I was if they found out that a bunch of elite bloggers were calling them hipsters.

  8. I’m going to make one last comment in regards to the photo. I did not view the people in the photo as hipsters.

    I have no issues with the people in the photos. Since this photo thing seems to be something deeper and more internal than what I’m discussing in this post, I’m going to politely excuse myself from this portion of the discussion.


  9. Angel’s Refugee: To me racism isn’t exclusive to a particular race. It’s institutional. That means a PoC can be racist to other PoC or even their own group, look at Clarence Thomas. He’s black, he’s a racist, he’s using the power of the system to oppress people. It’s a horrible thing, but it’s a thing we should discuss. It’s something we all have to continue to be mindful of. Thanks for the compliment.

    Ritzy: I had never seen the hipster olympics, very entertaining.

    Rosie: Acknowledging something is happening isn’t whining.

  10. Thank you for clarifying of it being more institutional. It makes more sense when we can understand and discuss several points of view. Cheers.

  11. clarence thomas is racist? um, lets see, is that because he is an uncle tom? so, according to my calculator here, hmmmm, ahem, mmmm, okay, ive got it!clarence is a black conservative and that equals racist.

    but seriously, something is wrong with your math Browne.

  12. Rosie, clarence thomas is racist because you are talking stupid. Just fuckin wit ya, but really, how about reading up on him before you talk so much?

    Homeboy is staunchly against affirmative actions despite the fact that he used it when he was in school. Im sure Browne can key you into more on the guy, but really, think a bit before you type, porfeeze.

  13. Rosie,

    You’re in the field of education. I’m sure you read about Clarence Thomas, owing to that if you think he is ok, there is no way am I going to convince you otherwise. I accept that, but let’s hypothetically pretend that Clarence Thomas is a racist just so I can use his position of power as an example of how in most cases individuals can’t be racist, but only prejudice, but his case is an exception.

    Clarence Thomas is not an Uncle Tom, he started out that way, but not anymore, an Uncle Tom is a powerless individual.

    He’s way more of a problem than any Uncle Tom could ever dream of being.

    An Uncle Tom could be a social worker within a racist country and this Uncle Tom social worker knowing that he or she can get away with not doing shit for a particular child that is a member of a minority group, that social worker not doing shit for that child, looking down on that child and feeling superior to that child and being able to get away with it, that social worker with helping the system and keeping that child down would be an Uncle Tom and s/he could be prejudice, but not a racist.

    Clarence Thomas is beyond that. He sits on the Supreme Court of this country he has the power to make people and break people. I would never dismiss him so easily, some would, but I feel he is a huge asshole that deserves the exact same level of mockery as George Bush Sr and Rupert Murdoch.

    Racism only comes with power. That’s why a homeless bum screaming to me n*gger b*tch isn’t racism, but if a homeless bum screamed that at me, threw urine on me, I called the cops, the cops came too late owing to me being in a minority neighborhood and then when they finally did catch the guy, letting him off with a warning, that would be racism.

    In the case of the Charter Oak students, children in my opinion can’t be racist. I would never put that label on a child. The actions of the adults in handling the issue, which were continuing to print the yearbooks and giving the black students whose names were “changed” stickers to hand out to their friends to paste over the offending names under their pictures and pretty much no consequences for the perpetrators, and a “they were just being kids” attitude, well, that was racism.

    The action of the students by themselves wasn’t racism, but the following actions and reaction by the community and school district was racism.

    Air Guitar championships, the action of one asshole doesn’t make it racism, but the nonaction by people who watched it happen. The fact that the Air Guitar Championship was a popular item in the blogosphere and nobody mentioning that happening in the media accept on the Angry Asian man blog, well, that right there, that’s racism.

    My initial example was a personal anecdote that I went into in order to personalize the topic and to localize a broader topic. And I agree that alone it wouldn’t have proved anything, but I felt I put quite a few good examples as well as links to support my initial point.


  14. browne,

    there’s nothing like a having a fresh cup of coffee in the am and reading loong winded posts like yours. first of all, can we accept that there are good arguments against affirmative action? if there aren’t, then lets examine the liberal arguments for it, shall we?

    it goes something like this: affirmative action opens doors for minorities and what they do afterward with such opportunities is up to them…they may demonstrate success or they may not…

    but, one of the caveats of affirmative action by these same pushers of it, expresses a downside or an unfairness that may be tied to the beneficiaries of AA; namely, that their work and successes might always be suspect precisely because of AA.

    it’s wrong, isn’t it browne, to suspect or diminish someones achievements simply because they benefitted from AA? you are doing the same to Clarence. You are targeting him as racist because he has argued against AA, being a beneficiary of it to begin with. but to this i say, so what? if he benefitted from AA, has he not proved himself qualified and intellectually able to give reasoned arguments against it? it may seem like hypocrisy to you, but as i stated above, there are good arguments against AA and id like to examine what clarence thinks about it, which i have not done.

  15. How about looking at Thomas beyond affirmative action. I think affirmative action is bs, not because I don’t believe in what it does. I love the little chances it does give, but I don’ think it levels the playing ground like people think it does.

    I think it’s a band-aid for cancer. I think it’s a way that the US gov’t can say they made things fair and I would never give them that.

    I would much rather fight for real equality than just settling for AA, but lets take that out of the debate in regards to Thomas being a complete threat to the average American’s way of life.

    I can look at Thomas and hypothetically agree that maybe AA could be bad, but even taking out all of those cases.

    He’s a menace to the civil liberties of the people of this country, not just PoC, people of all stripes of life, except rich assholes.

    Printz v. United States (1997): Although the Printz ruling struck down several gun control laws on Commerce Clause grounds, Justice Thomas wrote a separate concurrence holding that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms and would have also rendered the laws unconstitutional, independent of Commerce Clause concerns.

    Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004): In a lone dissent, argued that the president has near-unrestricted authority to classify U.S. citizens as enemy combatants during wartime.

    That’s not all in the Arthur Andersen LLP v. United States, when Enron destroyed documents, he voted that it was ok.

    That’s not all he wanted to limit freedom of speech by making “controversial” speakers pay large fees to pay for permits and police protection.

    He wanted to take away the ability for federally funded legal aids attorneys to assist their clients in fighting welfare laws they felt where unfair.

    Thomas (and Scalia) are menaces on the Supreme Court for many more reasons other than Affirmative Action.

    Take some time look over Thomas’ cases.

    So Rosie do you think anyone in our gov’t or who is a major business figure is racist?


  16. “So Rosie do you think anyone in our gov’t or who is a major business figure is racist?”–browne

    I am not ready to name names. business is run and corrupted by lovers of money and not racists, unless of course they practice discrimination at some level; hiring for one. so i think these are two separate beasts–racism and capitalism. they are often two sides of the same coin. i define clarence as a bona fide conservative, and we are all familiar with that platform of ideas.

  17. Angel’s Refuge, the same thing has happened with Asians, within their communities. There’s resentment and discrimination against immigrants, who the Americans consider an impediment to their own assimilation into society. To be honest, I participated in this kind of racism myself, at different levels. I’m not proud of it, but when you’re young and a person of color, even if you’re critical of the mainstream, you may also want to be part of it. (Yet, at the same time, my best friends were immigrants. Go figure.)

    I asked a Jewish-American about how the Russian immigrants in Hollywood and the Valley are viewed by their community, and it’s the exact same thing. There’s resentment, embarrasment, and a little racism. This is even in the Valley, where their community is entrenched.

    Later in life, things can get more complex. The last time I was told to “go back to Japan”, it was by an “FOB” immigrant of Vietnamese descent, because I was protesting what he believed were “American” things.

  18. Oh yeah intraracial discrimination is something all PoC or can be perpetrators of or victims of depending on our background. In college these upper middle class African-American chicks had an “Eastie” Party. Where they dressed up like “ghetto” black girls and gave themselves “ghetto” names and they thought this was amusing.

    I’ve met teachers of color who work in the inner city and think their students are stupid pieces of trash and have no shame in expressing this view.

    That’s why truly I don’t like separating class, race, or gender. I think it’s all inner related.

    I don’t believe giving people a free pass, because they look like me or aren’t white. There needs to be some kind of retooling of the how people teach multiculturalism, because I think some PoC feel that being culturally sensitive and universally thinking does not apply to them and it does. It’s not just about what white guys do. Anyone has the power to be a prejudice, non-thinking jerk.

    As the world becomes smaller I think this is becoming more and more evident. I made a video parodying this. One day I will edit and share it with you guys.


  19. Out of curiosity, where are you seeing “Far East LA” being used as a reference to the San Gabriel Valley because of it’s “predominantly Asian-American” population? The only place I’ve seen that phrase used is by me and a few other people on the LA Metblog, and I originally coined it to refer to any community that was farther east than East LA. It’s got nothing to do with Asian-Americans and isn’t even specifically referring to SGV. Is it being used in another way elsewhere?

  20. “where are you seeing “Far East LA” being used as a reference to the San Gabriel Valley because of it’s “predominantly Asian-American” population?”

    Yes I am.

    The blog you write for is pretty big, so what you guys say people pick it up.

    I’ve seen it referred to several times in that way on several blogs and to me while you may not feel it has anything to do with the Asian-American population it seems that way to me. And some ignorant asshole is going to view it that way and use that as more ammo to f*ck with someone who may be different than them.

    Now I could see that being picking up as a buzzword (at la curbed or something) and being a way to describe the SGV and I want to put it on record that I would appreciate if it was stopped right now.

    You said you coined that? Didn’t know that. This wasn’t me pointing to a particular person. This was me going hey, maybe you don’t know and maybe you didn’t mean it this way, but it was taken that way by me.

    I’m not personalizing the issue. I hope you don’t. I’m saying in general I think that kind of thing shouldn’t go on. And should be challenged. I don’t even bother challenging on the blog that you write for anymore, you guys will just mock my point and put it to some kind of “funny” vote.

    Do you see how someone might think that calling a predominantly Asian-American neighborhood Far East LA, might be construed as being a bit derogatory?

    South Central has a high black population and it’s south of LA, now what if someone started calling it the Dark City. And then when you asked them about it they said, “Well south LA is south of the city and Africa is south of America, so…”

    The term Far East is a derogatory term on it’s worst days and eurocentric on it’s best, you add it on as part of a LA city doubly insulting. Maybe you didn’t know, now I’m telling you. You can do what you want, but again, what I wrote was simply for people’s info.

  21. You hit the nail on the head with a lot of the more concealed racism.

    Although I understand your position on “Far East LA” I coined that phrase a couple of years ago when I started with Metblogs. No one in LA proper seems to know we, nearly 2 million of us exist, and if they do they write us off as some sort of economically challenged unhip dump that is not a part of LA. We are part of LA and “Far East” was added as I wanted to make sure people understood we are part of LA.

    Most people when they first heard me use the phrase didn’t think twice. They understood. We in the SGV are the part East of East LA that no one seems to pay attention too. I can assure you that I never meant more than that when I first started using the phrase and when I continue to use it. Not everything has some dark undertone, or at least not with me.

    FWIW, I am also glad to see you pop into our posts every now and then and speak your mind. Its something we need every now and then. I think you still have my email, I’d gladly talk with you more on this.

  22. Frazgo,

    I didn’t think anyone was trying to be “evil” when the phrase first started being used. Most oppression doesn’t start off as evil, it just becomes evil once people realize that it’s wrong, but keep doing. Not that using the phrase Far East LA is evil in it self. It’s just a pattern of behavior. It starts off with something that’s not prejudice, but then it becomes prejudice through a well this is ok, how about this. It’s a slippery slope.

    That phrase along with the illegal poll at Metblog and the WATTS post on LAist in this mocking way it just put a bad taste in my mouth.

    The unapologetic fuck you, but we’re mainstream. It’s like if you were punk rock and things ok, but it’s like if you have a major blog and you don’t take a stance politically in any kind of risky way, but then you let that kind of thing go on and you continuously shut down ethnic minorities that talk about being ethnic minorites, then what is the public supposed to think.

    If I said something on a post at LA Eastside and you said you were offended, because maybe it was generalization on white guys I would take you serious. I wouldn’t mock you and say you were negative and then dedicate the next month or so to making fun of (but not admitting) all of the subjects you talk about.

    At first I thought truly that certain people in the mainstream blogosphere didn’t know, but quickly realized that it wasn’t that certain people didn’t know it was that they didn’t care and that was shocking to me. I assumed it was ignorance on the part of many, but I later realized it was really a gleeful “fuck you people” and what do you do at that point. Just keep talking to a wall.

    No one likes be thought of as a joke.


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