Friday, May 20, 2016

Why racial jokes are NOT okay.

If, after reading my explicit racism post, you thought, "Hmmm, those frat party costumes don't seem so bad.  It's just a joke.  It's just funny."

Think again.  I want you to open your mind with a beginner mind and re-think about those parties after considering this post.

First, from the beginning of the year, we have tried to make Michael Schwalbe's sociological mindfulness a goal.  Even Schwalbe used racial jokes as an example.  In being aware that we affect society, we should realize that we can't see how far our influence goes and it helps to re-affirm or challenge social norms.  In this case, a funny joke might also help to re-affirm stereotypes, make other people feel like outsiders and, even in small ways, help justify violence against others.

Remember that these "jokes" are being conducted in a society that has widespread stereotypes.  As one example, let us consider Donald Trump.  I do not want to attack Trump personally but as a representative of the larger society.  Mr. Trump represents a very real possibility of being the next U.S. President.  He garners enormous media attention.  So he is an important cultural barometer for the U.S.  And despite his large media presence and serious political aspirations, he has said outlandish, offensive, outrageous and erroneous things about minority groups in the U.S.  For reference, from the Huffington Post, here is 9 outrageous things he has said about Latinos, including that Mexican immigrants are rapists and killers and criminals.  So, when these ethnic jokes occur, especially frat parties, realize that they are happening within the context of a country that is already tolerating hurtful, hateful ideas about these ethnic groups. 

Furthermore, think about the ingroup-outgroup mentality that we learned about in unit one.  I believe that often these parties do not involve anyone from the ethnic group that is being targeted.  In otherwords, it is not an inside joke, but it is a group of outsiders making fun of other people.  In many cases, those other people are on the same campuses where these jokes occurred!  Imagine seeing people who are not a part of one of your own groups making fun of that very group.  For example, imagine a group of Latinos dressed up like Donald Trump calling themselves white people and saying "I am white so I hate black people and I hate hispanics."

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