For a while now, I would love to have a cup of coffee with you. I know that this offer is invaluable to you because like me, you enjoy dark coffee, usually without sugar or creamer–straight old school and simple. Or maybe you prefer tea. Yes, tea, with the spices you’ve grown on your front porch. In either case, whether you’d like coffee or tea, or anything else, I’ll make sure that you feel welcomed. I don’t even mind riding my bike to the store down the street to purchase anything we may need for our time together. I have done this for guests before, sometimes in haste. In fact, one time I was in such a hurry that my jeans, near my ankle, got caught in the crank of my bike and I flipped over my handle bars to the ground. My jeans tore in several places, especially near my knees. But this was no problem since now a days it’s kind of cool to sport jeans in this fashion.
Anyhow, the conversation I’ve been wanting to have with you is about your rising trendiness. I have noticed that there has been an emergence of young people who are growing more concerned about some of the same issues I am concerned with and who are creatively reflecting an image that I can somewhat relate to. The other day, I walked into a restaurant for a burger where the waiter–dressed somewhat raggedy and had a “Pancho Villa” mustache– served me. He had a sleeve of tattoos going down his arm and a pair of glasses, seemingly held together by a piece of tape. He brought me a delicious order of rootbeer. And not just any rootbeer … a rootbeer served in a jelly jar. Then I noticed that around the room, everyone was drinking out of different jelly jars, having lively conversations.
This made me think about my upbringings: when I was a kid, my mom only had a few nice drinking glasses. We only used them on special occasions. So you know what we used on a daily basis? Yes, jelly jars! When friends came over, this would often embarrass me. So I used mom’s nice glasses, only to be reprimanded by her later. “Mijo,” she would say, “stop using the glasses and use the jelly jars instead!”
Dear Hipster, your friends and their trendiness, young people who happily ride their bikes in torn jeans, drinking black coffee and tea in jelly jars, may not understand the implications of what they are reflecting. You see, I ride my bike because I’m car-less; my jeans are torn because I am clothed in poverty; I drink black coffee because I don’t have money for sugar and creamer; I grow my tea because it’s cultural for me; and I use jelly jars because we’re poor. I don’t choose to live like this. I have to live like this.
You, on the other hand, don’t have to live like this. So why do you imitate our lifestyle? Do you intend to be in solidarity with us, or do you mock us? Are you seeking liberation from your own privilege, or are you capitalizing on our cultural creativity born out of our poverty? If you are in solidarity with us, why are we not invited to your events? And if you are seeking your liberation in tangent with our ours, where is your presence when we protest against the injustices that we suffer in our barrios and hoods?
Dear Hipster, we see your laughter and ease of life. We see it as you enjoy copying our ways and branding them as your own. For us to be in solidarity, all I ask is that as you borrow our customs, will you please invite us to the celebrations that others believe you created? Will you give credit where credit is due? And will you completely immerse yourself in our reality so that our pain will become an inexpressible part of who you are? Then, and only then, will you do justice the creativity you express in your ways of life.
Let us work together.
An Original Hipster