‘Yo, Is This Racist?’ Andrew Ti’s Tumblr Has Your (Hilarious) Answer
Andrew Ti, via Colorlines
Photo Credit: Colorlines
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“I am by no means any kind of authority on anything.”
For an authority figure, Andrew Ti has an unorthodox personal statement. And he stands by it, too, regularly reminding his readers that the only authority he has is what his audience projects onto him. The frequent hatemail he receives often makes this very point about his lack of credentials; he publishes it and agrees with it, just to piss off the author even further.
Ti is the sole human behind the Tumblr site “Yo, Is This Racist?”: part advice column, part humor site, part schadenfreude shooting gallery. The concept is simple: he answers questions from the Internet-at-large about whether things are racist (and if you have to ask, the answer is probably yes), while swearing a lot. “If there were a tagline for the site,” says Ti, a photographer who claims no relevant academic credentials, “it would be ‘Fuck You, You Racist Sack of Shit.’”
Topics to date include racially charged pro-life billboards, ‘ Indian pudding,’ and organizing your bookshelf by color, to name a few. And despite Ti only listing one sort-of qualification on the site (“If it’s absolutely necessary for you to know, I’m not white”), YoIsThisRacist.com has blown up. Ti set up shop on November 1, and after 24 hours and a few well-placed blog shoutouts, he found himself with over 2,000 Tumblr followers. He’s answered over 500 questions in the eight weeks since then, with another 4,000 unanswered questions in his inbox.
“It grew out of an office conversation,” says Ti, a native Midwesterner now living in Los Angeles. “I was talking to my friend at work about Yosemite Sam, since that’s what you do in an office, and we were talking about his litany of swears, his fake cartoon swears, and the phrase ‘cotton-picking’ came up within that. And my reaction was ‘Yo, that is racist!’ And it literally went from that, to blog, to people picking up the blog and running with it.”
Of the submitted questions, Ti estimates that only a third genuinely want to know if something is racist; the majority are from people wanting an ‘impartial arbiter’ for a debate with a friend. Or the questions come from trolls hoping to trick him into admitting a deep-seated bias against whites, usually with a few racial slurs thrown in. Do they use the race-appropriate slurs? “No. Never. 99 percent of the people assume I’m black,” says Ti, whose full name appears at the top of every page of the site. “The idea that the word ‘yo’ is the sole purview of black America… that boggles my mind, personally.”
Of the site’s readers, however, it’s safe to say that nearly 100 percent enjoy seeing Ti exercise his unlisted point of authority: his spectacularly profane pyrotechnics.
Question: Yo, I’m an upper-class white kid with upper-class white friends. Is it racist that we all call each other nigga?
Answer: Yo, for real, I wish every hardship and sorrow upon you and your racist friends.—
Question: Asking for a Callista Flockhart when you want a flat white coffee?
Answer: Yo, for real, do you actually do this at your local Starbucks, just so you can then clarify your shitty, sexist joke to the dude pulling the levers on the espresso machine? You know everyone hates you, right?
Question: Yo is it racist if I don’t want to include my really good Indian (dot not feather) friend from my wedding party because all the other bridesmaids are white and I don’t want her to steal attention in my wedding pictures?