The link included in this post is an excerpt from The Daily Show. I don’t watch the show on a regular basis, but I find that I agree with a lot of the ideas and opinions that John Stewart and the other people involved in the show try to convey to their audiences. I stumbled upon this video, which is a satirical representation of an actual community in Mississippi called “Turkey Creek.” Turkey Creek is a historic black town that was founded by freed slaves in 1866, and has been an impoverished community for their descendants ever since. The video presents Turkey Creek as located in a very racist state that contributes nothing to help improve the town’s horrible conditions. Once the town’s background is introduced, the narrator discusses how the only organization who has offered help to the people of Turkey Creek is the Audubon society, which is an organization that is interested in the conservation and preservation of the environment. As you will see in the video, a black newscaster interviews a white man who is a spokesperson for the Audubon society and dissects what is truly in the interest for the organization. Their primary interest in helping Turkey Creek improved its community is to preserve an area for the birds. This blatant disregard for the lives of the residents of Turkey Hill, with the sole motive to help the birds with the secondary effect of helping the people, is the premise for the video and a way to open up discussion among people who refuse to see racism, intentionally or unintentionally, and who think that our country, and in particular the south, has overcome racism since the abolishment of slavery. Throughout the video there is discussion with some residents, as well as with the spokesperson of the Audubon society, and it is clear that racism continues to run deeply and structurally, as seen by the way the black residents are expected to live and the priority they are refused by surrounding towns and organizations. I found it to be enlightening, yet disturbing; especially the part when the Audubon society spokesperson stated that after Hurricane Katrina the society came together to make hundreds of bird houses for the community’s birds (as opposed to helping the residents of Mississippi and Turkey Creek who could not afford such renewal).
Yes, this video was meant to be funny, but I see it as the kind of humor that people laugh at because it makes them uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable to be labeled as a racist, even if it not a label on an individual person, but on a geographic location. It is uncomfortable to think that while sitting in a house, on a couch, watching The Daily Show, there are people suffering from institutionalized racism, who are neglected and have no way to improve their lives. The video is a bit ridiculous in such a satirical form; however, it brings a lot of assumptions and understandings to light in a way that people can hopefully recognize. Its discussion about the unequal treatment of black people compared to a big green bird is a seemingly exaggerated expression of racism, but it is a remarkable way to show a relation that we may not see or choose not to see. It can be seen by the comments at the bottom of the video page that viewers of the video have very different opinions about what the video is trying to convey. One of the comments is from a white man (there is a picture) from Mississippi who tries to defend his home by stating in clear-cut points how Mississippi is not racist at all and that racism has nothing to do with the horrible state that Turkey Creek is in. This comment presents an example of the type of justification and avoidance of racism that is such a problem in our country. It is fact that racism is pervasive in our society, and defenses to that fact indicate how much work we have ahead of us.