Deejay's Appeal: 'Kill The Whiteness Inside'

Jeremy Parker plays at parties where he spins hip-hop to a mostly white crowd. He says the idea is to make fun of himself and his origins.
Jeremy Parker plays at parties where he spins hip-hop to a mostly white crowd. He says the idea is to make fun of himself and his origins. (Photos By Helayne Seidman For The Washington Post)

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By Michelle Garcia
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 26, 2005

NEW YORK -- The dance floor throbs to the rapid thump-thump of the hip-hop beat. The deejay, Tha Pumpsta, leans against his booth, and a woman slides up from behind, grabs his narrow hips and rubs hard.

Tha Pumpsta hops onto the crowded dance floor of guys in big T-shirts dangling from slight frames and ladies in short skirts and tasseled boots.

"Kill whitey!" yells Tha Pumpsta into the microphone as he bounces to the beat. "What . . . gonna . . . do dance . . ." he raps to the beat. "Kill whitey!"

The kid by the bar busts out with a break-dancing move. Women drop their booties and the guys slide in close. Tha Pumpsta struts around in an all-white outfit from his headband to his high tops, shouting it again: " Kill whitey!"

Tha Pumpsta, who happens be white, has built a following in the past few years by staging monthly "Kill Whitie" parties in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for large groups of white hipsters. His proclaimed goal, in between spinning booty-bass, Miami-style frenetically danceable hip-hop records that are low on lyrical depth and high on raunchiness, is to "kill the whiteness inside."

What that means, precisely, is debatable, but it has something to do with young white hipsters believing they can shed white privilege by parodying the black hip-hop life. In this way, they hope to escape their uptight conditioning and get in touch with the looser soul within them.

Of course, it also follows a long line of white entertainers, including Elvis Presley, who sought to be cool by emulating black culture. But in doing so, he pioneered something. These newest hipsters aren't trying to be creative -- just ironic. And some think he might be mocking black people.

"I'm throwing this party, and it's obvious that I'm white and I'm kind of appropriating this culture but in an ironic way," said Tha Pumpsta, whose name is Jeremy Parker. The 25-year-old takes his Pumpsta moniker from his high-top sneakers. "Kinda poking fun at myself and my origins and white people in general," he said.

"I'm trying to kill the whiteness inside," Parker added, although his blue eyes, milk-white skin and blond hair might suggest he has some work ahead of him.

A melanin-lacking hip-hop party might be a fact of demographics in a few corners of the United States. But in New York, where hip-hop was born in black and Latino neighborhoods, the all-white parody of black culture can strike a jarring note.

A few months ago, 29-year-old Sharda Sekaran was hitting dance spots with friends when she stumbled into a Kill Whitie party. "There was a bunch of white people acting like a raunchy hip-hop video," she said. "I don't get why that wouldn't be a characterization of black people for the entertainment of themselves."

Sekaran, a native New Yorker from a mixed-race family -- part black, part South Asian -- occasionally works as a deejay and knows all about hipster irony. "That doesn't make it any less disturbing," Sekaran said. "Their attitude is, 'It's our privilege to do this because we're in our own little clique, in our own little world.' "


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© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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