Memoirs of a Wigger

Being a white hip-hop head in the early ‘90s

I was branded a “wigger” in 8th grade.

I’ll never understand why it happened, other than because I was popular and people knew I could take it without getting mad about it.

The people calling me it were reciting every line from Doggystyle and watching “New York Undercover” every week, so it’s not like I was being profiled by a bunch of Cobainiacs. In fact, the grunge kids were cooler about it. Their feeling was, “Do whatever makes you happy.”

Moreover, I wasn’t dressing like this:

It’s different now. Hip-Hop culture is everywhere and influences everything. Big-budget Hollywood films use rap songs in the trailers and, every year, Forbes (not The Source, not Vibe, but Forbes!) publishes a “Hip-Hop Cash Kings” list of the richest hip-hop artists. The most successful musician of the 2000s was a white MC that wore doo-rags.

But 20 years ago, immersing oneself into the hip-hop culture (rather than being a detached fan of only the music) made you different. Liking Outkast made you an outcast.

I wore Champion hoodies and baggy jeans, but it’s not like those were bold fashion choices in 1994. Hip-Hop became a multibillion dollar industry because of white kids that didn’t live in cities like myself, but my hometown was really white and there was always an undertone of racism. Of course, the 14 year-olds didn’t know it (because most had been programmed to be that way by their parents), but their enjoyment of Wu-Tang and Das EFX and Onyx was an updated version of enjoying Vaudeville. They were amused by the music. I was inspired and moved by it.

That was the difference and I think that was the reason why people gave me shit about it. They felt threatened in some way and so they lashed out. Eventually, many of those people began dressing (and speaking) the way I had been for years. I suppose I could have called them out on it, but I didn’t for two reasons.

First, I had moved on. I left my hometown and barely looked back. I don’t go to reunions and I don’t visit anyone.

Secondly, I truly didn’t care, mostly because I had seen what was coming long before anyone else.

Hip-Hop was taking over and no amount of name-calling or public shaming could stop it.

Christopher Pierznik’s nine books are available in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.