A joke goes both ways…it serves to shine an examination light on someone’s ignorance as well as vindicate those who have to suffer someone else’s insensitivity and stupid behavior.
I was married to a black woman for five years and I honestly thought that I was completely immune from racial insensitivity… I discovered the truth was that I didn’t know all that much at the time about black culture, didn’t see a lot of the ignorance and I found myself guilty of saying, “Why are black people so pissed off for?”
You either get it, or you don’t. And I learned some hard lessons during my marriage about racial relations and what it’s like to be black and deal with mixed marriages and people who only see things in black and white.
The thing I didn’t get is that the reality is that everyone’s got a little potential for racism, and it’s not necessarily a GOOD thing to be completely ignorant of it. As I prepared for the possibility that my child would be subjected to harassment, racial bigotry and intolerance from white folk AS WELL AS BLACK, I started to really see that the biggest problem with people is that they modify their behavior around others to suit the situation and that people who make the most noise about racial relations are usually the people who have something to gain or lose by their agenda.
My sister has four children who are going through life being judged by others, my sister in law has two adopted children who are mixed race. When you really pay attention and stop being ignorant, it starts to set in that it’s okay to make jokes about ignorance, it’s not okay to embrace it… Archie Bunker, like Family Guy, was a popular show because it brought out the uncomfortable truths that needed to be addressed- nobody wanted to be THAT GUY, the ignoramus…the elephant in the room.
Comedy works by taking the pain and punch out of malicious and cruel behavior. And the truth is, if you’re the one that it most offended, you’re probably the one who needed the catharthis the most. It takes the hate that someone is feeling and lets go of the anger of the situation. Be thankful that someone is willing to address the elephant in the room, laugh it off and move on. When you start taking it too seriously, you give power to real racism and radicals who don’t have our best interests at heart.
And if someone shames you into apologizing for something you’ve said while addressing that elephant in the room, ask yourself this, “Whose best interests are they looking out for?” If it’s not yours, you might want to leave the room.