No, that wasn’t funny, that was racist.

I received a FWD in my inbox today, I don’t often get forwards as I have my spam filters set to block them but somehow this one got through. It was titled “Funnies” and it was peppered with racist, anti-islamic and anti-immigrant humour, it wasn’t at all funny.

It was sent to me by someone who would never consider themselves racist, who would be horrified by such a charge and yet this is precisely how racism grows and is spread, we don’t think, and by not thinking we perpetuate stereotypes and feed racism . Here is a link to an excellent article on stereotyping and why we sometimes laugh at racist jokes and I have posted my response to the forwarded email below.

———————————————

“The Red Cross just knocked on my door and asked if we could contribute towards the floods in Pakistan. I said we’d love to, but our garden hose only reaches to the driveway”

I was devastated to find out my wife was having an affair but, by turning to religion, I was soon able to come to terms with the whole the thing.

I converted to Islam, and we’re stoning her in the morning!

Question – Are there too many immigrants in Britain ?
17% said yes;
11% said No;
72% said “I am not understanding the question please.”

“There’s a new Muslim clothing shop that opened in our shopping center, but  they threw me out after I asked if I could look at some of the bomber jackets.”—

Dear….,

This one in particular hurts, insert any of our Caribbean countries or people instead of Pakistan, it’s the same thing. I know you didn’t think too hard about these “jokes” but I was deeply upset when I saw them. Dehumanising people who are not like us through popular “jokes” are the actions that make it easy to act in racist ways, these types of actions, when directed at black people- President Obama as a witch doctor or as a dreadlocked, weed smoking drug dealer- offend us greatly and with justification, we cannot stand by and do the same thing to Indians and Muslims.

When I visited England to stay with my ex’s parents this was precisely the kind of thing his family found funny and I was told racist things like this on more than one occasion. Regarding immigrants in England I was told “this is a white country you know” all this said while I held my little brown half-English baby in my arms.

We cringe (or at least I cringe) when I hear of Iraqi civillians dead from the war, mothers, children, sisters, brothers, babies I cringe because I see my own family in their faces, they are human, with human wants, human needs and human loves, when we help spread the belief that Muslims and Pakistanis are not human, that they “sell bomber jackets” implying that they are all terrorists, or that the way to “help” flood victims in Pakistan would be to add water presumably so more Pakistanis can die we reduce their humanity and make it easier to accept the atrocities committed against them.

These are the same tactics used against black people in the early twentieth Century and still in play today, all the mockery, the coonery, the “humour” about black pickanninies stealing chicken and eating watermelon, the blackface, the “jokes” about black people living on welfare, or having multiple babies by multiple fathers, about our women being overly sexual-a charge often still leveled at young black victims of sexual assault in the media and in popular culture- all of that desensitised a nation so that when pregnant Mary Turner was strung from a tree by her ankles, burned and disemboweled and her foetus stomped on no one was prosecuted, no one was charged, few people even remember and even fewer care.

“Snow White and de Sebben Dwarves” featuring the over sexualisation of black women and the Mammy caricature, it also portrays us as stupid, uneducated and more interested in money, sex and bling than in self improvement…sound familiar?

I took the time to write all this because I love you, because this hurts, because I can see some unthinking person saying these things about my brown, vaguely Arab/Muslim-looking child and mostly because it matters that we brown people not fall into the traps set for us by white supremacist culture.

Here are some “jokes” about us from around the web, I don’t find them funny and essentially they are the same thing.
BLACK:
1.Q:why are black peoples nostrils so big?
A:because thats what GOD held them by when he was painting them.
2.Q:what do you get when you search for the word baboon from the dictionary?
A:a picture of Robert Mugabe.
3.Q: What is black, purple,and yellow?
A: A black person goin to church.

4.Q: What do you call a black guy who goes to college?
A: A Basketball player.

5.Q: What does it mean when you see a bunch of blacks running in one direction?
A: Jail break

6.Q: Why do black men have bigger manlinesses than white men?
A: Because as kids white men had toys to play with

7.Q: What does FUBU really stand for?
A: Farmers used to buy us.

8.Q: Did you hear about the black who died yesterday on Rt. 80?
A: He stuck his head out of the window at 100 mph and his lips beat him to death!

9.Q: What do you call 400 black people swiming in a river?
A: An oil spill

http://www.authentichistory.com/diversity/african/3-coon/5-chickwatermelon/index.html  A really good link about racism in popular culture. I’ve also attached some images that were considered both amusing and appropriate when they were released.
love…
____________________________
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8 thoughts on “No, that wasn’t funny, that was racist.

  1. Good text, thank u for sharing it. It is so weird sometimes to see/hear people talking like this, making jokes like this, while immediatly starting to defend themselves when u start to talk about those words/jokes being racist. One of the biggest problems in our societies is this “unreflected” and “unnamed” racism.People have to learn to reflect themselves, their way of thinking and talking. No one of us is free of biases, but only when we start to reflect ourselves and start to work on it we have the chance to become better and building up a better world…for all of us.

    • Thanks for commenting, the most painful kind of racism isn’t the KKK version it is the foggy kind that our friends, neighbours and family members participate in because “its just a joke”.

  2. Thanks you for this post! I am a student and am currently taking a class about race, gender, and sexuality. I feel that it has been really important for me to learn how people of different races experience racism. I think it’s important that people continue to speak out like you have done and it’s equally important for people to listen, to try to understand with an open mind and heart and not invalidate others’ experiences. Yes, this is a very real problem and it needs to be addressed. Thank you.

    • You are welcome.

      Thank you for taking the time to read, so many people just dismiss issues like this as “oversensitivity”. I am happy to hear that the post resonates with you.

      R

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