Mipsterz started coming into its own sometime last year. It began with a few conversations, grumblings of discontent over $50 a head networking iftars and model minority pathologies in “the community” on one hand and the persistent negative portrayals of all things Muslim/Brown/Foreign in media and society on the other. It came from a group of young people in urban America upset with the way their role as “Muslim” and “Hipster”, two poles that carried radically disparate expectations of life, would be defined for them. More than anything else, Mipsterz was born to create a space where important critiques of popular culture, class, race, gender and identity could be discussed and where a real, sustainable, open community could be allowed to emerge organically.
One of the values that define that community include a willingness to engage, critically and constructively in shaping public conversations. There is no “Mipsterz video” just as there is no individual expression that captures the essence of what has become a living, breathing community of individual voices. The video, created through the hard work of a range of people who identity (and don’t) as Mipsterz is part of that. Hipster Shaadi was another example of people inspired by conversations they had in the community to start something new, radical and addressing felt needs. The dynamics of the internet are such that our far more important values are ones that remain the least understood and discussed. These are the values that shape our day to day gatherings, working to build networks, groups of friends united by experiences of displacement, oppression and marginalization and a desire to build a better life for our communities.
Twitter and Facebook may be great place to hash out debates over hijabs and hipsters, but the real test is what we do in our communities, building spaces that are open in equal measure to pious believers from Manhattan and equally pious radical queer activists from Brooklyn, open to affluent start up millionaires and struggling students and everyone in between. Mipsterz is not about reproducing tired, assimilationist apeing of Hipster culture or a an equally problematic, uncritical reading of Muslim culture. It’s about building a community where folks can gather and, if but for a moment, suspend judgement and engage as equals and peers, at a chai party, a potluck, jam session or whatever else that Mipsterz do. Mipsterz is a badly needed cultural home for a lot of folks, a place where we can finally be ourselves and allow our identities to develop on their own terms.
So again, Mipsterz….does not make videos, does not make matrimonial sites, does not comment on what women are wearing and why. Mipsterz is a space and a community of individuals with a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives. Income, race, class, gender, religiosity, sect - a bit of every variety of those things out there.