ugg classic short leather boots The problem with being a ‘basic white girl’
White people can be such nerds.
There. I said it. Human beings of western European ancestry have historically proven to be, at times, total squares who occasionally struggle to think of cool stuff themselves, so they look to young, urban trendsetters (read: not white) to blaze the trail when it comes to music, fashion, dance, even language.
It happened with RB. It happened with headdresses. It happened with the Harlem shake. It happened with twerking. Theres even a word for it. Columbusing: The act of discovering something that is not new and claiming it as ones own.
Take the concept of basic, for example. You know, the word used to describe women who love leggings, Ugg boots, infinity scarves, autumn scented candles, shopping at Target and reading US Weekly. They clutch Pumpkin Spice Lattes in gel manicured hands. They fill their Pinterests with fake quotes from Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. They are excruciatingly banal. They are moderately privileged. They are almost exclusively white.
But basic was a thing even before it was a thing. The good people at BuzzFeed tracked the words first known contextual usage back to the 1984 song Meeting in the Ladies Room by the all girl RB band Klymaxx. (Side note: That is an amazing band name). It describes a basic woman as someone who, basically, consorts inappropriately with a non single man.
Urban Dictionarys first entry for the term basic bitch is from 2009, citing black comedian Lil Duval and black YouTuber Spoken Reasons as the sources who inspired the concepts popularity. The term popped up in hip hop songs over the next several years, describing an uncouth, uncool, inauthentic woman.
Then Kreayshawn, a white, female artist from California, rapped about basic bitches and their lust for the status brought by mainstream designer goods in her viral 2012 song Gucci Gucci. She performed at UW Madison that same year, and I suddenly felt relieved I never forced my parents to buy me a Coach purse back when those were cool. Basic had been full on Columbused, much like YOLO, bae, and my personal favorite, ratchet.
Thats when white people started going crazy. Google Trends data show the basic bitch phrase entering the public lexicon around 2011, but the pumpkin spice madness seems to have reached critical mass now, in the fall of 2014. The whole Internet is overrun with listicles describing the habits of basic white girls, tips on how to tell if you are are one or not and musings on why fall is the most basic season of them all.
Some women have decided to bask in their basic ness, calling it a much needed celebration of unbridled femininity. Others revile it, calling the stereotype a form of veiled misogyny and consumer anxiety. Is there anything more basic than pseudo intellectual think pieces deconstructing and overanalyzing a dumb meme that doesnt even mean what people think it means?
As a white person, I fully acknowledge that I cant even begin to understand the minority experience. But I can learn about it, talk about it and try to be part of the solution.
Basic started its linguistic life as a term within African American vernacular English and ended up slapped on some white girls Instagram feed with a hashtag in front of it. Thats probably not as contentious as Iggy Azaleas rise to fame imitating black Southern hip hop, but isnt it kind of the same thing?
Some decry it as cultural appropriation;
some defend it as cultural appreciation. Im sure there are elements of both, because not all people are monsters. Culture is dynamic, as is the exchange of ideas.
But good intentions dont trump ignorance. Because at its very root, borrowing things from other cultures, piecemeal, without giving due credit and respect to their origin, reinforces white Western societys time honored domination (and dare I say exploitation?) of other cultures.
White people, why do we have to make everything all about ourselves? Thats just about as basic as you can get.
Wait, am I using that word right?
I created an account with this site JUST so that I could comment on this article. Allison, I think you did a great job. I have been wondering what the word basic means for a couple of months now and you did a really good job of not only clarifying it but also tracing it and blowing it up. Don’t listen to all of the haters. They’re privileged white people who aren’t interested in societal and self improvement. This IS important! This is meaningful and worthwhile. Systematic oppression, economic inequalities, militarization of the police, the corporatization of universities, and the for profit prison system are ruining this country. Allison, you don’t sound racist to me (because, hello, white people have been in power since FOREVER) you sound social justice oriented and well informed. I seriously, whole heartedly commend you for writing articles like this in small town Wisconsin. That is rough but I’m so glad that you’re doing it. Your article gives me hope. Keep your head up.
I am absolutely flabbergasted that the La Crosse Tribune feels it appropriate to publish such racist drivel. I challenge you to consider if you would have posted this article if you replaced white with black and vice versa.
Racism definition: The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
Your article starts with Human beings of western European ancestry have historically proven to be, at times, total squares who occasionally struggle to think of cool stuff themselves, so they look to young, urban trendsetters (read: not white) to blaze the trail when it comes to music, fashion, dance, even language.
This is the very definition of racism! Allison, you are a racist plain and simple. It doesn’t matter who you target. Tribune editors, you are complicit in projecting her racist beliefs.
I have never understood the concept of white guilt as this woman talks about. As a white man, I have never felt guilty over the actions of whites in the past, most if not all of whom were unrelated to myself. There is a simple saying that we have all heard before: The past is the past. It’s who we are now that matters. Not only does this apply to individuals, but to groups of people as well. But when you have race hustlers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton ect it is imperative to keep white guilt alive, its a money maker for the black folks. Whites are not only better off without white guilt, but minorities are better off without it too. When whites help elect black politicians under a sense of white guilt, those black politicians steal from their own people and hurt the community with poor leadership.