Saturday, February 23, 2013

Seattle conceals its racism in classism

Because despite having putative progressive values, Seattle is a very class conscious and class discriminatory city. It's a city where class is expressed not in terms of going to country clubs but of being sophisticated, of thinking that you're one of the intelligentsia because you read the right books recommended by the right magazines, follow the latest food trends, and buy the right clothing. Folks who don't follow these norms, who follow others, are looked down on as unsophisticated, as being gauche, the canaille. Although, of course, it can be white people who fall into that realm, more often than not it's people of color, black and brown people, especially younger people, who are the ones who are looked down on with disgust by the sophisticated urbanites of Seattle.

 But it's not because of the color of their skin it's because, you know, they act so, so....what? I'm not talking about kids who hang out downtown on street corners, but about observed reactions to regular folks around town. My observation is that if you're a person of color in Seattle and you don't dress and act completely in line with the elite ideal it's assumed that you're potentially a gang member or trouble maker, someone who should be treated with suspicion, who, in any case *is not ONE OF US*, and so doesn't really *get it*.

Racist disdain abounds in Seattle under other names and justifications. People who have less money, or who actually are poor, are only welcome in the trendier districts of Seattle if they're the virtuous hipster poor, people who come from good middle or upper class backgrounds who have decided to forgo making money for their passion making pottery. If you don't fit into that demographic and you don't have much money in Seattle, or even if you do have money, but have the wrong color of skin and not the style as the elite, you're pretty much fucked.    

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