March 21st, 2011 / 8:49 am

I’m not racist: I love white people

In their song “Hahahaha jk,” Das Racist proclaims, “We’re not racist: We love white people!”

[Sorry, I wanted to find a video of a live performance, but YouTube is sometimes inadequate. At least you can listen the song?]

I love Das Racist. They are smart and clever and funny and their lyrics are just plain fantastic. But that one line, it sticks with me. Partially because it’s true, partially because it speaks to racial issues in a very pointed and problematic way.

Imagine if Eminem had a lyric like: I’m not racist, I love black people. How many people would be pissed? (Come on. It’s not like we don’t all know it’s true!) But because Das Racist has at their easy disposal the “race” card, it’s not only funny, it comes to embody a certain degree of truth.

As a woman of color, I can say: I’m not racist, I love white people. No one would call me racist, at least not to my face.

And I mean it. I do love white people. BUT my declaration of love of whiteness isn’t seen as problematic. After all, it’s signifies my “assimilation.” It shows that I embrace the hegemony. Whereas Das Racist actively challenges whiteness and racism through their lyrics—here and otherwise—it goes without saying that such a pointed lyric is in fact racist, even if it serves to undermine racism.

The song goes on to list the items they associate with whiteness:

Ford trucks, apple pies, bald eagles, Cheetos, Doritos, Fritos, Pringles, Kraft Singles, Slim Jims, Sierra Mist, Butter crunch cookies, Sour Patch Kids.

Obviously, there is a conflation of whiteness and Americanness, only who would challenge them?

I ask this in all seriousness: could a white person stand up and call them racist without having a bunch of non-white people turning around and calling the white people racist? Once the race card is pulled, it trumps other arguments, no matter how logical they are.

Except I really do love white people. Most of my favorite writers are white. Most of my favorite people are white. Most of my clothes come from the Gap or Banana Republic (do you get any whiter than that?). Growing up, the Asians never accepted me because I had too many white friends. I dressed too white. I liked too many white things. So, I just came to embrace it.

But what’s funny is that academically, people expect me to be an Asian American specialist, whether it’s for a job or for research. At almost every job interview I’ve ever had, I’ve been asked if I can teach an Asian Am lit course. During my Geography PhD, it’s been assumed that I could incorporate Asian Am lit into my research. (Clarification: I have about as much knowledge about Asian Am lit as… um… let’s say… Medieval lit, and yet, by virtue of my positionality, I should be—and am tacitly accepted as—an expert. How fucked up is that? And the same is true for many Asian Am writer-academics I know.)

Or, let’s reverse it for a second. Whereas I specialize in “conceptual” fiction, which—let’s be honest here—is very white, if a white person specialized in Asian Am or African Am fiction, I’d approach them with complete skepticism. I’d probably go so far as to assume they were fetishistic. It’s a problem. It’s my problem. It’s a lot of people’s problem. I’m not a fan of this double standard. I don’t know where I’m going with this. Just some thoughts, you know? What do you think?

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  1. Anonymous

  2. mark leidner

      double standards / hypocrisies / paradoxes are a source of cognitive dissonance and so are, in a sense, necessary for poetry. everyone has their own set of racial, economic, sexual, etc contexts to exploit because no one’s identity is exactly identical. writers should make hay of whatever angles they are offered, play the cards they are dealt, race or otherwise, all for the glory of the form. if people get tired of playing whatever cards they hold, they can sometimes get new ones, or play against them, or play their hand so well they change their hand, or take the old hand to a different table, where the same cards mean something new. or they can stop playing

      it seems like das racist is making fun of a kind of white person – redneck or poor or stupid or whatever – makes me wish more parodists would make fun of smart, literate, bougey white people

  3. M. Kitchell

      I don’t think Das Racist is making fun of a kind of white person at all. I think it’s a point of comparison to middle america, in which there are people who justify their hesitance towards alterity by an insistence that “no it’s okay I like these people!,” which, of course, highlights the otherness.

      The listing of the middle-class food items (and I think it’s important to highlight my insistence that these are middle-class items, not inherently ‘poor or redneck’) I think furthers this by insisting upon an object-hood that ties into an identity, specifically at this level of capitalism in which the Item is the new identifying factor (perhaps also drawing a parallel to the idea of an Indian being either “dot or feather”– this is identity where language is not signifying, but an object is [i.e. welcome to capitalism]).

  4. Anonymous
  5. letters journal

      I’ve recommended it elsewhere, but I want to recommend it again here because it was such a good book: Losing My Cool by Thomas Chatterton Williams. Definitely relevant to this.

  6. Joseph Young

      i think i agree with mike that it’s not poor whites that are being touched here but more white in general and even just american in general. what’s cool about the lyrics here is how slippery they are, from the we love white people part to the ghetto part with the dirty mattress, eg, so that where that list of products comes down, white or black, isn’t quite clear. but double standards, sure. like, who is it ok to be prejudiced against? not black people right now but certainly poor whites, ‘rednecks.’ a while ago some people yelled at me here when i called them out for their prejudice against ‘hipsters.’ i mean, saying this person’s character is to be judged based on their hair cut is the very definition of prejudice, pre-judgement, and yet most people i know are entirely ok with such statements. my own prejudice tends to run against ‘suburbanites.’ do humans need to divide themselves up such? maybe we do. perhaps its part of the structure of our brains, against which some resist to varying degrees.

  7. lily hoang

      Hey Mark. I tend to agree with Mike here. Das Racist parodies the smart, literate, bourgie white person. In other songs, they talk about Frankfurt school etc. Their jokes are aimed the educated. They speak not to overt racism, per se, but invisible racism, to the people who consider themselves too pc to be racist. At least to me.

  8. Anonymous

      when im in other countries i kind of feel like i don’t really fully belong(nothing ever makes this feeling go away no matter what) and i notice the things about those people that have nothing to do with how i grew up

  9. Anonymous

      about the “asians in my ucla library” video i saw some (more than 1) asian bloggers talking about it refer to white people as “euro-american” which made me think “nah dude, we’re just american. the hyphens are for people not from europe, like you”

  10. Daniel Bailey

      living in colorado makes it very hard to like whites. is it racist to refer to them as “whites?”

  11. Anonymous


  12. Anonymous

  13. ac green

      It’s not hard to be racist against white people at all. Most all of us are. It’s usually couched in “class” terms, though, such as prejudice against “rednecks” or “suburbanites” or “WASPS” or “hipsters”. All of these are primarily or stereotypically “white” groups, to a greater or lesser degree, though their defining characteristics are economic and social. But so are the defining characteristics of stereotypical racial groups, the “ghetto” or “thug” or “rap” culture of black people. The difference is that there is a strong notion of “black identity” in America, and so prejudice or hate against a subgroup or stereotypical minority is seen as an attack on the whole race. This doesn’t work for white people because white people have no “white identity”. I mean, how many times have you seen a white person been asked “what are you?” and they reply with the three or four European nationalities of their grandparents?

      How many times do we here the refrain “oh, you’re one of the good ones” or “it’s those people over there”? We see this as racism, which it very much is, but its a racism that’s heavily influenced by economic and social stratification. When directed at white people, it isn’t seen as racism because white people have been the dominant race in America for whole time. There’s an element of power inherent in racism, power that is lacking when directed at white people.

      I don’t particularly have a problem with “racism” against white people. They’ve been the oppressors for so long that a taste of their own medicine might open some eyes. Of course, these days its just “white people wear lame clothes like khakis” rather than lynching, but oh well…the times are changing.

  14. ac green

      also, the expectation that all members of one race must be experts about that race is the unfortunate result of racial awareness. white people finally realized how much they had been oppressing minorities’ voices, and so they say “no, you tell your own story now.” but then that’s the only story you can tell, and every member of your race is expected to tell it. its just a different way to keep oppressing minorities. instead of not letting them speak at all, now you only let them say what you want to hear.

  15. ditch the funhouse mirror
  16. deadgod

      xmkdz: To all Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Franco-Americans… please disband your coalitions at once to serve my point.

  17. beardobees
  18. kerpoppa

      I have also noticed the weird expectation of Asians to be well-versed in their culture. I go to a school where the different Asian-American cultural organizations are a REALLY strong presence, to the point that Asians who don’t join one of them are seen as strange. “white-washed” is the word that comes to mind…

      It’s weird, because I didn’t have these expectations BEFORE I went to college. They developed in my time here. So much for the young generation being colorblind..

  19. Johnny Sakkis

      you are a moron.

  20. Amy McDaniel

      I like this post, Lily. I’ve been thinking about some of these things lately because I am preparing to move to Bangladesh to teach at a women’s college where the students come from 12 different Asian countries. I just visited, and it made me think a lot about how race in America works versus how it might work in other places. It always bothered me in middle school when the teacher asked an asian-american or black student for their special perspective when we read asian or asian-american or afr-am lit, as if that student could tokenistically speak for an entire, diverse group.

      at this school in bangladesh, things will work differently, i think. the students are far from home and feel a lot of closeness toward people from their same countries, even as they make new friends from other places. they are also very eager to speak from the positions of their cultures. like one teacher i observed asked, how are dreams symbolized in your cultures, and the students had a lot to say. somehow it didn’t seem tokenistic. maybe that’s because there, it’s impossible to have a view of asia as some kind of monolith; the multitudinousness is always apparent–you can’t even say the sri lankans all come from one culture since students come from both sides of a civil war that ended only two years ago. whereas in america we’ve constructed these ridiculously broad categories.

      this isn’t to say race and racism doesn’t exist there. white privilege is at an extreme there, or, at least, it’s harder to ignore one’s privilege there; whites are ushered to the front of lines etc. it also puts the lie to the idea of reverse racism. whites are certainly stereotyped there as being rich, and white women are apparently seen as being sex-crazed, but that isn’t racism. minority though they are, whites have historically been in power in that region. i agree with ac green above–racism is prejudice plus power, not prejudice alone.

  21. M. Kitchell

      I think the idea of articulating racism as prejudice plus power is a good one

  22. deadgod

      ^ struggling-to-be-sensitive colostomy bag ^

  23. deadgod
  24. goner

      Okay, I think it’s very funny that everyone is speaking super seriously about lyrics from Das Racist. It’s like those people at a party who ruin everyone’s fun by trying to start a deep conversation when everyone else is just getting loaded.

      “They call this joke rap, we kinda weed rap…”

      Come on kids, sometimes it’s all just supposed to be fun.

  25. lily hoang

      You’re right, Goner. Totally right. And i’m the first guilty one.

  26. deadgod

      thank you officer CBDG gosh just let me be

  27. Guestagain

      “Once the race card is pulled, it trumps other arguments, no matter how logical they are.”

      This is one perfect statement. I had a black girlfriend for about two years, she loved Doritos. I used to smoke Kools.

  28. Sean

      Taking the coy/light seriously and taking the serious as coy/light is one of the true joys of life, it is being alive.

  29. Just a thought
  30. lily hoang

      Just to be clear: I know and understand the song and the lyric are satire. My post was some weird cross between seriousness and satire.

  31. deadgod

      ^ make up your own blogonym and be ‘you’, whiny bag-o’-shit ^

  32. Anonymous

      didnt know it was 1860

  33. deadgod

      Once the race card is pulled, it trumps other arguments, no matter how logical they are.”

      T-shirt on security guard at branch where Shawn Carter banks:

      Understanding black people is a white thang.

  34. Anonymous


  35. Anonymous

      *please someone say something hateful in response so i can click Like*

  36. Anonymous
  37. mark leidner

      couldn’t follow this but you’re probably right

  38. mark leidner

      sorry lily wasn’t listening to the songs, just read that list of junk food items and thought it was representative of whatever my point was

  39. Anonymous

  40. Guestagain

      actually, Herr deadgod, it turns out they’re just like anyone else, a pleasant surprise obviating honky skinhead conditioning

  41. alan

      We like you too, Lily.

  42. deadgod


      who‘s like anyone else?

      and who is anyone else?

      who are all these fucking people clattering their kicks on my trap door??

  43. deadgod

      blogonym—that’s a good one, you bag-o’-shitty-portmanteaus

  44. bmichael

      “I’m counting Jacksons with black friends/ I’m counting tens in Benzes with white friends/ Wonderin’ if suicide’s a largely white trend/ Google it later and confirm that, aight then.”

      I’m an asian american, and a recent queens resident. Young, college educated. So–similar to Das Racist, say.

      I think a lot of what DR does is NYC-centric in that race is everywhere and nowhere. A lot of what they’re saying is I think unconsciously Kantian: I have my ‘black experience’ glasses on and I see black experience. (“Jacksons with black friends); I have my ‘white experience’ glasses on and I see white experience (“tens in Benzes”). It’s the slipperiness and almost arbitrariness of race and racial designations that they get at.

      And I think they are consciously twisting the phrase “I’m not racist. I love black people” in the line you’re writing about. So in a way, that’s not what they’re saying. They’re saying something about the saying. So yes, it is racist, but intentionally, in order to point out the vacuity and racism of phrases of that form.

  45. deadgod

      ^ portmerdeau ^

  46. deadgod

      *or something meta, please*

  47. NLY

      There’s a kind of (perhaps necessary) one way fiction to racism, in many ways. In my experience I’ve never met any group of people that was more or less racist than another group of people–some of the things the kids down the street from me are taught are profoundly racist. The difference, and the only, very crucial difference, between being racist as a black person and racist in the received way as a white person, is that for almost all of the history of white people interacting with black people the racism of white people has had the backing of worldly power. It mattered more that a white person in America was racist, and so that’s what you focus on. Do I think Das Racist are doing anything unwittingly, or without complete ideological control, or even anything that wasn’t supposed to maybe spark a conversation like this? Nah. Do I think there is a double standard in the way you’ve talked about? Sure.

      Do I think that double standard has been for the best? Yes and no. If you take a historical perspective, and assume that beyond a certain point we’ve culturally evolved past that double standard and perhaps even the issues it’s peripheral to, then yes. It’s easier to talk about the times we’re living through, and less horrifying or whatever, if you look at them as transitional. If we transition it won’t really matter that for a 50-100 year period racial complications took illogical, reactionary turns (including but not limited to this double standard)–if we don’t transition, it will matter.

      I’ll leave it there, for now, I suppose.

  48. stephen
  49. Anonymous

      awful post

  50. NLY


  51. I’m Not Racist, I Only Stereotype White People | Philolzophy

      […] who knows how much I <3 Das Racist sent me a link to this HTML Giant article […]

  52. Somnambulist

      I second that ac green is a moron. I grew up in Brampton (near Toronto), Ontario, and was subjected to racism as a white person of minority in the locality of where I lived, when my best friend changed almost overnight and started touting Tamil Tiger hate speech. He was my best friend, and I still have fond memories of before a relative filled his mind with hate. The apartment building of my youth had a 90% Punjab majority. Funny thing is, the race card seems like a joke in Canada. Multiculturalism has been such a part of our local culture, that we take it for granted. I feel like I’m from 10 different cultures based on the influences of the people around me. Today I study Tabla, an instrument from the north of India. 13 centuries ago, my direct ancestor was a tyrant.

      The fact is: a lot of us are descendent from tyrants, because tyrants had MANY MANY CHILDREN, so this it wouldn’t surprise me if this includes the majority of the planet, because history operates on a long time scale when you stop looking at the individual and start looking at the DNA. (I think we should be looked at as individuals, but the DNA is very interesting in its own way). The descendents of such oppressors are not all themselves oppressors. I’m descendent from a Visigothic tyrant named Rodrigo. That name is now one of the most common last names in the world. Are all with the last names Rodrigue, Rodrigues, Rodriguez, and Roderick deserving of racial hatred? Yes, it’s one large family line, but no, we don’t deserve to be treated to a taste of Rodrigo’s medicine. Rodrigo blinded gouged out the eyes of a relative (Wittiza, his predecessor) in revenge for his father being blinded the same way. He also was oppressive to Muslims and Jews, so much so that the Muslims and Jews got revenge against Rodrigo and destroyed his kingdom very quickly. The crimes HE committed in the name of the Catholic Church were fully paid for in his own blood. I’m not Rodrigo, so please use this great tool of the internet to liberate yourself from ignorance.

      A friend of mine is Iranian. Her ancestors were the ones that killed my ancestors. This doesn’t mean I think she deserves to have racial hatred propagated against her. Quite the opposite. I see the eye for an eye history to be an important lesson. I’m lucky to have evolved beyond Rodrigo’s crimes, as we all are lucky to even be alive and to have grown out of the DNA into something new. P.S.: If your last name is so common to as have 10 to 20 pages in the phonebook, your ancestors were probably oppressors in some way, regardless of your culture. Well, suck it up, stop whining, live your life. You’re not just some DNA

  53. Steffen Collen

      Someone has been reading Zizek

  54. Kateelora

      Ac Greene are you saying white people shouldn’t know which European country their bloodline is from? Of course we have no identity, America is not our Country, not our land. It just so happens a group of our ancestors sailed there to steal it, and stayed, so…here we are! Of course we list off what European countries our grandparents were from, it’s all we have that is real. I certainly didn’t choose to be white, born in the US, and it certainly wouldn’t have been my first choice. And when you grow up with your German grandfather forcing you to speak in the dialect for his friends you don’t forget where you come from. ANY race that touches American soil ends up with Kraft cheese for brains because anyone who enters this country is a media mind slave. The human race is still young although we may think different because we live such tiny short lives, we have poor limited perspective, especially those of us in America who are shunned should we decide to reflect on anything worthwhile. Were like children, arguing over the most illogical basic things in life “my color is better than yours”, “your color does this”, “our color is better because of this”blah blah blah, baby talk. Give it all time, the world will always be changing until it finds its balance, until then the growing pains will be ever so intense.