I recently took a lovely trip to Austin, TX, to perform a few shows and get to know the local comedy scene a little better. All in all, the trip was great! Met some awesome people, had some fantastic shows, and ate at more food trucks in three days than should be legal.
However, upon reflection, I realized something that frightened me: White people are out of control.
Of course, we aren’t out of control in the way that white people normally are. I didn’t see racial discrimination or a Doctor Who viewing party.
No, what I saw was almost the exact opposite. I saw racial harmony at a pandering level and accidental gentrification of entire neighborhoods by well-meaning but naïve millennials.
A lot of the city reeked of young white people trying to make up for things earlier generations did, but only because they still want to feel superior to someone.
Now, I’m not gonna sit here and pretend like white people aren’t to blame for most of the worst things of the past 250 years. In fact, I’m pretty sure the statistics say that people of primarily white ethnic backgrounds are responsible for 9 of the top 11 mass murders of the last 75 years, but there’s a fine line between righting our past transgressions and treating an entire city like a frat boy treats a Haitian town (“Look how brave it was of me to come to this place and take pictures of myself kind of helping to build a house”).
Racism is very real, and there is still a lot of work to be done to improve the lives of ethnic groups that are systematically oppressed in a country that has barely escaped infancy without collapsing in on itself, I know. But do you know what isn’t helping? Moving into a low-income neighborhood and driving up rent. It’s just creating different long-term issues and making groceries more expensive. These places don’t want Whole Foods; they want Shopper’s Value.
Hell, Austin was too gentrified for me, and I’m practically its target demographic for future residency. A lot of the city reeked of young white people trying to make up for things earlier generations did, but only because they still want to feel superior to someone. They help people of color like a parent who won’t let her child speak for himself because she doesn’t think her kid can handle it. They’re trying to helicopter parent other races of people, and it’s a little humiliating.
That last paragraph was a bit cynical. Obviously, this is better than the way things used to be, especially in Texas.
They’re trying to helicopter parent other races of people, and it’s a little humiliating.
I’m just trying to point out that it’s possible to overcorrect for poor behavior. We might crash the car in an attempt to steer it in the right direction, and I don’t think anyone wants to see that happen.
I honestly commend Austin for taking great strides in trying to improve the lives of everyone in the city. Now, can we try doing that without turning the whole place into a goddamn arts and crafts store?
Some white guy made me the most delicious taco I’ve ever had then tried to sell me bead jewelry, and I went from delicious ecstasy to wanting to fistfight him in the parking lot. No one should have to endure that kind of emotional roller coaster.
Love you, Austin. Can’t wait to go back.