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.”—
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.