Racism in Comedy

Every first and third Tuesday, Brew Works in Bethlehem hosts an open mic night for aspiring comedians. I have attended several events, particularly because my friend is interested in becoming involved in the business. Good beer and good laughs – what could go wrong? Every first and third Tuesday, I find myself privy to the uncomfortable silence following racist, sexist, or homophobic jokes. Just this week, a man walked up to the stage and said “I hate women, they’re crazy. I also haven’t been laid in awhile.” He then proceeded to make a series of racist and homophobic comments, and … Read more

Placing Chris Rock in Conversation with Beverly Daniels Tatum

It seems as though anytime there is a widely-publicized instance of police brutality in the United States, my Facebook timeline is flooded with the same grainy YouTube clip entitled “How to Not Get Your Ass Kicked by the Police.” In the faux public service announcement filmed in 1998, comedian Chris Rock provides black viewers with a comical step-by-step guide to follow in order to avoid getting into trouble with the law.   The skit is problematic because it perpetuates negative black prejudices, showing only black men breaking laws and acting in a stereotypical thug-like manner, but also because it victim-blames, … Read more

The Daily Show’s Racism Satire Presents Racism Truth

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-january-24-2011/bird-like-me

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).

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