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Happy White People's Day

July 07, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 199

If it's OK for a black comedian to make a joke about White People's Day on a major U.S. holiday like the 4th of July, Independence Day, then it should be equally OK for a white comedian to make a joke about Black People's Day on a major U.S. holiday like Martin Luther King Jr. Day, right? Don't get mad at me, I'm both white and black (mixed race), and I'm not a comedian. I'm just an inquisitor. Surely, you've heard about comedian Chris Rock's recent Tweet to his followers in which he said, "Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren't free but I'm sure they enjoyed fireworks".

Chris' comments have created a fire storm of both outrage and agreement. That comedians enjoy a special license to offend others and 'speak the truth' as they see it is unquestioned in our culture. Sure, they often cross the line and say things that many people think but don't dare say, for of fear of being branded a racist, bigot, homophobic, chauvinist, or worse. Usually, what determines if something is funny or not are its truth content and the speaker's intent. Most would recognize that the latter often carries more weight, yet tends to be more a matter of public perception and opinion than an accurate reflection of someone's actual intent. Let's look quickly at this template for funny with the intent of determining if a white person could get away with a joke about Black People's Day as quickly as Chris Rock could pull off his White People's Day joke.

Truth content and intent; an interesting formula for funny. It is common knowledge that much truth is said in jest. A little sugar makes the medicine go down easier, right? Well, did Rock's comment contain truth? Why would he say such a thing? What was he saying, exactly? As a master provocateur, ala, a Rush Limbaugh, he's got us all asking these questions. It seems Rock was re-stating the fact that the founding of this country was accompanied by much theft, deceit, murder, and most importantly, on the backs of black slaves. Furthermore, it's quite ironic that for years, while the country celebrated its freedom, it enslaved and oppressed black people. That's it? As Rock would undoubtedly say, 'Yep! That's it!'

Ok. We know the history and the truth of what he said, but why did he say it? Simply put, it was a denunciation of this ugly part of our history. It's like pointing to a scar and reminding all who inquire about it (and even those who don't) how one got that scar. As the template for U.S. race relations and dialogue goes... Many black people are by-and-large still suffering the effects of four centuries of slavery and countless more years of oppression at the hands of, well... white people. This is a deep wound, and an ugly, protruding scar. Those who understand this template and operate in accordance with it generally support Rock's comments because they understand his point in making them. He was denouncing those actions that occurred in the past. Those who don't ascribe to this template generally deplore his comments.

The trouble is that most who don't follow the template also denounce those actions of that occurred in the past. Yet, they are made to feel as though if they don't perpetually revive their memory and point to them as proof of continual modern racism then they support such actions. To suggest that someone is guilty for the sins of his father's father's fathers is absurd. The facts of history are the facts. The question is whether constant rehearsal and regurgitation of those facts enhances race dialogue and advances the real-life situation of Americas, and more specifically, of black Americans. On a similar note, it is interesting to remember that the Jewish people suffered atrocities at the hands of the Germans. Though painful memories of the Holocaust are often retold, do Jewish people generally hate Germans for what their forefathers did to their people? Are Jewish people perpetually held back by 'The Man' because they were oppressed in the past? Different templates produce different results. This leads us to intent.

As we've stated, a man's intent often tends to be more a matter of public perception and opinion than an accurate reflection of his actual intent. Can we really know someone's intentions? Precisely? Consistently? The unwritten laws of culture seem to erroneously suggest that we can. This is both fortunate and unfortunate at once. Based on one's track record, and far more importantly, on one's affiliations (political, racial, religious, etc), main-stream society has deemed it possible to know who the 'good guys' and 'bad guys' are. Naturally, each side's criteria for good intentions and ill intentions are contrasted with the other side's criteria for the same.

It is generally assumed that Chris Rock's intentions are pure and right toward both blacks and whites, and that he can thus, get away with a joke the likes of his White People's Day joke. Conversely, an even more controversial figure like Rush Limbaugh is generally judged as ill intentioned toward black people. Having listened to Limbaugh extensively, and familiar with his actual track record, I vehemently disagree with this sentiment (as does Snurdley!). This is the modern, main-stream race temple that is promulgated by the likes of Rev. Jessie Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton and Rock, himself. Still, one's intent remains part of the rubric of funny in America. Not conforming to the template is why blacks like Congressman Alan West, Chief Justice Clarence Thomas, and Bill Cosby (wasn't he a comedian at one point) are repeatedly attacked and labeled racists.

Why are people mad with Rock's White People's Day joke? Firstly, most don't understand why he made such a joke. They don't know why he's still upset about our history. Additionally, and more importantly, people are upset with the double standard. Could a white comedian ever be considered to possess pure intentions toward blacks approaching the caliber of Rock's assumed pure intentions toward whites? It depends on who he is. It depends on his affiliations and history. Well, actually, as we've seen in the case of Limbaugh, whose actual history is as white and clean as the wind-driven snow (no pun intended), being judged simply on one's affiliations can exclude a lot of candidates. Even if there is one, or per chance, a few worthy white comedians who could wield a Black People's Day joke successfully, wouldn't he be met with the same censure that meets any white person who even attempts to use the 'N' word, albeit, with good intentions?

So what would such a comedian look like? What would such a joke look like? Would it need to be in a formal comedy set, or would a quick Tweet be its best vehicle? Happy Black People's Day... Uh... Today we celebrate... Uhm... Clearly, as I said, I'm not a comedian. I do, however know what it's like to be told that I'm unacceptable by both whites and blacks because of my race, and because of some truth I've cited. I'm not a comedian. I'm just an inquisitor. There's something wrong with the race template in America. Couldn't a white comedian cite a truth like the black slaves who were bought by white Americans were already slaves to blacks and were actually sold by blacks? Couldn't he bring up the fact that slavery existed for centuries before America did and that America eradicated slavery quite quickly? These are truths that seldom surface. Wouldn't these truths further advance the cause and state of blacks by balancing out the actual imagery of slavery in America? Instead, selective truths alone are repeated. Selective truths which often serve to divide blacks and whites and ensure a constant state of bitterness in black hearts toward whites?

I have a dream... that one day little black comedians and little white comedians would be on a level playing field... That they would be judged, not by the color of their skin nor by their affiliations, but by the content of their... Oh, forget it... It's just a dream, right?

Curtis Bradley is the father of three and a full time writer and entrepreneur, residing in Connecticut. He holds a B.S. Finance, Summa Cum Laude, from Sacred Heart University (Fairfield, CT). Curtis is an avid reader and enjoys learning immensely. Currently, he's reading through his list of the top books of all time and writing extensively.

Source: EzineArticles
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