FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Keep Portland White!

by LINDA UEKI ABSHER

Sitting in traffic and staring at the car in front of me, a tastefully muddy Subaru Outback with the requisite Thule bike rack, I spot this on the bumper:

“Keep Portland Weird”

Yet another Portlander proclaiming their uniqueness by slapping on their car most overused sound bite attached to the place I live.

There is an element of truth to the sentiment: to friends who suffer the ignominy of existing in California or New York, I live in hipster Valhalla: a happily ironic place where vegan food carts abound and localvore beer flows from repurposed fixtures.  It’s a place where young creatives commute by fixie bikes, towing babies or dogs to careers involving DIY charcuterie, vintage buttons or recycled wooden paneling.

But as I wander pass the organic coffee houses chock-full of thirtyish men with full-on lumberjack beards and defiant beer bellies, or boutiques filled with mock Goodwill cardigans selling for prices once considered exorbitant monthly rent, the message is unmistakable:  I am not a member of the Keeping-it-Weird club.

I realize that’s the first thing expected from a Portland hipster, but it’s true. I live in a ridiculously overeducated neighborhood riddled with organic farming emporiums and yoga studios. I also have a job that’s the wet dream every liberal arts graduate (librarian), But there’s one thing that makes me different from the exquisitely-toned women feeding chickens in their back yards: I am the wrong color.

Not that I’m harassed for my “interesting” (as one library user put it) looks, but quite the opposite: I am constantly celebrated for being an official person of color.  Not a week goes by without someone insisting upon the opportunity to honor my person-of-colorness, which consists of describing their week/month/year trip to Japan, followed by a detailed rave about the culture, which apparently is only made up of food or interior design accent pieces.  Oftentimes I’m asked to grant the Asian seal of approval for whatever side project they divulge to me, one they claim expresses their inner nature, be it bonsai, hot anime chicks in uniform, or origami bird earrings.

This practice of honoring of my culture or any culture involving people of different pigmentations is starting to wear me down:  those Taiko ensembles with nary an Asian in the bunch, or the blues festivals held on rare sunny days, playing to an audience doused in Oregon-grown Pinot Gris and 75 SPF sunblock, with everyone nodding to music made by the only folks in sight with a claim to an ethnicity. So after years of enduring the eternal parade of skinny white guys possessing pork-pie hats and Asian girlfriends and blissed-out wiggers thumping day-long on African drums, I have come to one conclusion: my race is a commodity—in fact any race outside Caucasian is a commodity.  It’s what keeps the Portland Hipster Machine going.

How?   By providing two crucial elements: cultural authenticity and street cred.  Without us, there’d be no culinary wunderkind studded with tribal ink with three-month-old-yet-already-raved-about-by-the-New-York-Times ramen restaurant, all because he had the wherewithal to track down and apprentice with a Japanese master revered for his secret noodle-making techniques.  And how would the media survive without the Portland small business success meme of willowy girls hacking vintage kimonos into adorable scarves while breastfeeding their Wrens or Atticuses? We’re the raw material mined for the benefit of the Greater Hipster Good, or at the very least provide ammo for those Yelp discussions as to who serves the most authentic sushi.

So the next time a hipster sidles up and grills me as to who serves the best kimchee fried rice in town? I’m gonna start charging….

LINDA UEKI ABSHER is the creator of The Lipstick Librarian!  web site.  She works as a librarian in Portland, Oregon.

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
Murray Dobbin
Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?
Jeiddy Martínez Armas
Firearm Democracy
Jill Richardson
Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students
Ralph Nader
The Rule of Power Over the Rule of Law
Justin O'Hagan
Capitalism Equals Peace?
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: From the Red Sea to Nairobi
Geoff Dutton
The Company We Sadly Keep
Evan Jones
The Censorship of Jacques Sapir, French Dissident
Linn Washington Jr.
Meek Moment Triggers Demands for Justice Reform
Gerry Brown
TPP, Indo Pacific, QUAD: What’s Next to Contain China’s Rise?
Robert Fisk
The Exile of Saad Hariri
Romana Rubeo - Ramzy Baroud
Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Israeli Parliament: Zionist Hasbara is Winning in Italy
Robert J. Burrowes
Why are Police in the USA so Terrified?
Chuck Collins
Stop Talking About ‘Winners and Losers’ From Corporate Tax Cuts
Ron Jacobs
Private Property Does Not Equal Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Mass Shootings, Male Toxicity and their Roots in Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
The Fordist Academic
Frank Scott
Weapons of Mass Distraction Get More Destructive
Missy Comley Beattie
Big Dick Diplomacy
Michael Doliner
Democracy, Real Life Acting and the Movies
Dan Bacher
Jerry Brown tells indigenous protesters in Bonn, ‘Let’s put you in the ground’
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Government-Fuelled Conflict & the Need for Unity
Winslow Myers
The Madness of Deterrence
Cesar Chelala
A Kiss is Not a Kiss: Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children
Jimmy Centeno
Garcia Meets Guayasamin: A De-Colonial Experience
Stephen Martin
When Boot Becomes Bot: Surplus Population and The Human Face.
Martin Billheimer
Homer’s Iliad, la primera nota roja
Louis Proyect
Once There Were Strong Men
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail