Racist jokes get laughs by putting down people because of their race. They are mainly based on stereotypes. Some dehumanize, like comparing Black people to monkeys. Racist jokes help to strengthen and spread racism.
Are people who tell racist jokes or laugh at them racist? Yes, at least somewhat. To laugh you need to know the stereotype and believe it to some degree. As David Pilgrim of the Jim Crow Museum points out, few Americans would laugh at Russian jokes about Chukchis.
Some racist jokes are worse than others, like those that assume that people of a certain race are not fully human or should be dead. There is a name for that: hate speech.
The race of the joke teller and the audience matters:
- Intra-racial jokes: jokes told about a race within that race are not necessarily racist. But some are. They depend on, strengthen and spread internalized racism.
- Inter-racial jokes are generally worse. They are told about another race or to another race. The most damaging are those where the joke teller belongs to the race being laughed at. Like Leslie Jones on “Saturday Night Live” acting out stereotypes in front of a heavily White audience.
The self-serving White racist guide to racist jokes:
- Black comedians: Whatever they say that is bad or stereotypical about Black people must be true. Why else would they say it? After all, no Black comedian has ever been known to kiss up to White people and their racist stereotypes to become rich and famous. At least not since the days of minstrel shows.
- Whites are Basically Good: Most White people laugh at or tell racist jokes, so there is no way it could be racist.
- Backstage humour: Telling a joke about other races to fellow Whites is harmless. It does nothing to strengthen their feeling that they are better.
- Frontstage humour: If you tell a joke about another race with people of that race present:
- If they laugh, it could not possibly be racist.
- If they say nothing, it could not possibly be racist.
- If they get upset, they have no sense of humour. They need to “lighten up” and stop being “oversensitive”. Remember, only White feelings matter!
- If they beat you up, you were “misinterpreted”.
- If they try to get you fired, it was “satire”, or at least a “slip”.
- “Just joking”: If you say something that turns out to be racist, just say:
- “It was just a joke.”
- “I have black friends.”
- “I am not racist.”
- Hipster humour: Making fun of stereotypes – while using the very same stereotypes to get laughs, ha ha – is never racist. Those who get upset clearly do not understand satire.
- “If I offended anyone…” – for your White fauxpology.
In the US, racist jokes by or for Whites are by far the worst:
- Many Whites base their self-worth in part on putting down other races.
- Many lack empathy for people of colour, especially Blacks and Muslims, to a frightening degree.
- They have way more power to act on racism thus confirmed.
– Abagond, 2016.
- External links
- Rules of Racial Standing
- Basically Good
- internalized racism
- examples of racist humour:
- Bill Di Blasio’s and Hillary Clinton’s CP time skit
- Chris Rock
- At the 2016 Oscars
- “Niggas vs Black People”
- Charlie Hebdo
- Steve Colbert – making jokes at the expense of Asian Americans
- University of Minnesota blackface video
- Clitoridectomy Cake – not meant as a joke, but taken as one.
- The New York Post – Obama as a dead monkey
- The New Yorker magazine – the cover with Militant Michelle
- Shirley Q. Liquor
- Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs
- alligator bait
- minstrel show
- some elements of racist humour:
- White fauxpology