On the “Dear White people” trailer’s extreme backlash

Naturally, as it is with any ethnicity, White people’s attitudes and opinions aren’t uniform, and can’t be generalised. Then again, statements beginning like this are based on the idea that Black people, and other minorities groups can’t say those particular things. In addition, it is important to clarify the fact that these types of assertions are not necessarily accusations of racism; they satirically reveal ignorant and/or insensitive behaviours and stereotypes. Therefore, answering “Not all White people are racist” is very much an off-topic response.

However, even if it is true that you don’t have to be racist to make such inconsiderate remarks; racists undoubtedly do hold such views. And, whether we like it or not, it is important to acknowledge that an alarmingly noticeable amount of Caucasians are racist. Remarks beginning in “Dear White people” are thus not based on the definite assumption that White people are racist, but rather on the substantial probability that White people could be racist.  Moreover, these types of comments serve in essence as a way of checking, of verifying one’s attitude. I.e, if you don’t engage in such behaviour, good for you: you can ignore the underlying seriousness of such remarks and enjoy the humour of it all.

Hypothetically, saying “Dear politicians, stop being so corrupt”, shouldn’t conjure up incensed politicians complaining that “Not all politicians are corrupt”. The fact this that, as corruption is an issue with politicians, racism is an issue with Caucasians; whether or not these issues concern the majority of politicians, or the majority of White people.

As for why Whites can’t say “Dear Black people” without being called racist; this goes back to the most fundamental and yet polarising issue as it pertains to racism: that racism isn’t reciprocal. Why can Black people to Whites what White people can’t say to Blacks? The answer is trivial: races are biologically equal; but social experiences between ethnicities differ. This is especially apparent in this particular instance; as the only reason why Caucasians can’t point out racially insensitive remarks uttered by Black people is that Blacks live in a world where Whites dominate politics, finance, beauty standards, the media and most other facets of society* so much that Blacks know and understand White people too well: it becomes harder for them to have ignorant and racially insensitive opinions of Caucasians. So I don’t think you’d have many ideas for a series called “Dear Black People”, unless you do indeed insert racist viewpoints into it – which is why you’d be called a racist – or state falsehoods throughout. Lack of subject matter, I’m afraid.

What’s comically puzzling to me is the fact that, at a time where people complain about minorities getting “triggered” by “politically incorrect” comments, the same people will be outraged when the comedic arrow changes direction.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LzggK5DRBA

*Relax, I’m not blaming White people for that, so you can stop clenching your firsts now. I’m simply stating a fact; without trying to assess its causes.

On Jokes

I’ve personally never been sure on how to take, and how to answer racist jokes. But this particular issue is a microcosm of a much bigger question, ie, what can we joke about? What is excessively provocative, and what isn’t?

As it pertains this issue, there are two reciprocal notions that separate a thigh-slapper from an insult: the intent of the one who utters the joke, and the perception of the joke that the entity towards whom the gag is directed, holds.

Unfortunately, both of these are completely subjective. On one hand, it is generally impossible – in comedy – to decipher or prove intent. In fact, some would argue that jokes deliberately delivered in a provocative manner can be the funniest ones. In addition, we must consider the fact that we live in a society where presumption of innocence is a fundamental principle. However, since comedic intent cannot be proven, this would imply that we be forced to take people at their word; which is particularly dangerous as, well, people lie.

Comedic cul-de-sac #1.

Moreover, how people react to gags is just as subjective. This idea is only exacerbated when you consider that most humour is based on some form of mockery, whether it be jests directed at individuals, or social criticism. This response to mockery is polarised, even when humour tackles the most sensitive of talking points.  For instance, this particular phenomena even characterises racially charged humour. Check Facebook and Youtube, and you’ll see just as many “White people be like” as “Black people be like” videos. But, interestingly enough, when it comes to such gags, you’ll see far more outraged White people commenting “It’s ok to make jokes about White people, but as soon as you make jokes about Black people, it’s racist! #reverseracism” than any of my ebony brothers and sisters expressing our revulsion at jokes aimed at us.

But the fact is, reactions to quips on these types of topics still are at least somewhat divided. I am by no means saying that the amount of people who laugh is always equivalent to the amount of people who seethe; I’m saying that no cutoff can’t be found without flirting with dogmatism: is a gag morally wrong when 70% of people think it is? Or 80? “Who knows” is the idea that I’m attempting to convey. And even if such a societal consensus could be reached, a majority of people assessing a joke as being reprehensible does not imply that they are right in their assessment. Comedic cul-de-sac #2. Checkmate, mate.

Naturally, I do apologise for bringing forth so many comedic complications without the complementary solutions, but I will expose a guideline, that certainly will help you filter out some of your more controversial witticisms: if you’d get offended if the joke was directed at you, Tipp-Ex that one out of your brain. Ask yourself, before you make a racist joke, how would you feel if that joke was intended for your ethnicity. Ask yourself, before you banter about a personal tragedy, how would you feel if your own were the subject of such banter. And if the answer is what I presume it is, use that cerebral Tipp-Ex.