Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Blipsters?

I heard someone use the term “blasian” yesterday to describe Tiki Barber’s biracial children. Apparently the word is used to describe people of black and Asian descent. Somehow this term sounds offensive to me and I’m not black and Asian. Why do we use these racial terms to describe minorities? Are there similar racial terms for white people? Why not? Maybe I need a coffee, it’s been a long day, I can’t think of any at the moment.

If you happened to read the article by Jessica Pressler titled Truly Indie Fans that ran in the NY Times on January 28, 2007, perhaps you have an opinion about the new term that’s been created to describe hip black indie music fans. Somehow I don’t think the term “Blipster” is going to go away.

Initially, I was perturbed by the term for the reason that it widens the gap between the races. I thought great, one more thing that will make black people stand out in a crowd. But after mulling it over (and I do love to mull), I decided that it is high time for the world (all colors) to realize that (gasp) it’s true! Black fans of rock music do in fact exist!

The mere fact that there are people that live in this world today who cannot fathom this concept is simply astounding to me. For the love of God, it is 2007!!! And by the way, I think it is worth mentioning here that black people invented rock music! Did racist narrow minded people forget this important piece of musical history? And why do we (especially Americans) feel the need to compartmentalize everyone?


For many years, I have not been what people expect for me to be. I have seen it frustrate the living hell out of some people. I have found this experience enjoyable but also exhausting on some level. On the one hand, I am always happy to broaden a person’s understanding of how multi-faceted and well-adjusted a biracial person can be, what it means to be in an interracial relationship, and what it means to exercise tolerance. On the other hand, I am sometimes overwhelmed by the stupidity that exists in the world and I feel there is some pressure on me to be both multi-faceted and well-adjusted. Otherwise, I fear I may become some negative stereotype thought up by some narrow minded racist fool.

I ski, play tennis (okay, I’m learning), work out regularly, knit, and I read about three substantive books a month. I do these things because I enjoy them, not because I want to prove anything. I’m a vegetarian (who would be vegan if I had more motivation), I have an advanced degree, and a high paying job. I studied four different languages. As a child, I studied piano and violin. I quit the violin but continued the piano into my twenties. And, I’m damned good! I grew up in one of the wealthiest suburbs in the country. Yet, because of my background, I can immediately be dismissed by some as an outsider. This is infuriating.

As a teenager, my musical tastes were more Billy Idol than Michael Jackson. Somehow I became hooked on the alternative WLIR radio station and was obsessed with Depeche Mode, New Order, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. A couple years later, I was most interested in hardcore bands like GBH, Social Distortion, and Husker Du. At that point, I was wearing black nailpolish, fishnet stockings, and Doc combat boots. In college, I mellowed and listened to the Dead, Allmans, and Phish. At many of the concerts I attended, I was usually one of just a few biracial and black people. Of course I noticed the absence of minorities. I usually felt some fan group camaraderie at the concerts I attended but I would have loved to look out upon the sea of faces and see ones that looked like me enjoying the show.

No one ever told me that they were surprised by my taste in anything. Maybe it’s because I’m biracial and not black. Perhaps my racial makeup doesn't stand out in a crowd the way a black person might. Either way, I find comfort in a diverse setting.

Hearing that there is a growing group of black indie music fans is exciting to me. While I wish our great country were more racially mixed, it’s not. I think part of what prevents people from mixing is narrow mindedness. The inability to think in a new way. Perhaps we need someone like Pressler to spotlight black rock music fans to give them a name and a face. I hope they grow in numbers to the point we don’t need to slap a label on them. Until then, I say, rock on Blipsters!!!

2 comments:

Rob said...

Congrats on declaring your independence. After all, shouldn't we all be able to enjoy the things we want, free of anyone's orthodoxy?

Anyway, feel free to join the conversation at http://www.boldaslove.us

Allen said...

Hi there! Thanks for the comment at IR Haven btw. I thought I'd return the compliment...

Blasian is not an offensive term, it's just a very literal interpretation to offer a term for a mix where one did not exist before. I frequent a forum called Blasian world and other blasian-related sites and forums exist, just like Hapa sites exist for the Asian mixed race community.

My kids are biracial (black/white) but my wife and I write an online comic called Due East, where the main characters are two Blasian sisters. If you want, you can check it out at http://dueeast.comicgenesis.com/d/1.html (the first comic strip)

I like your blog, too. You have a very engaging and in-depth perspective. Thanks for starting this blog.

Best Wishes,
Allen