just a joke


Snow, slush, salt, dates.

Love, dirt, cars, scarves.

The performance he gave her was a copy of how his baseball teammates had acted in elementary school and a few characters from movies about goldfish he watched before the age of five.

       You know what the only thing they didn’t steal in Ferguson?

Her idea was that everyone was programmed in some way, and so people who said borrowed lines, or copied the way other people talked, couldn’t be called malicious, if they weren’t aware.

       Work boots.

If a product was marketed so that nobody knew how it was made – and who had paid for it, and who benefited – people who consumed that type of product were less inclined to know about who benefitted from their consumption of it, and who was paying. Marketing was based on psychology and decades of strategy: they didn’t just guess.

       Have you heard the joke about the white guy?

People can be defensive when finding out how products they consume were built: they try to exhonerate themselves and their guilt because of an assumption that the person sharing their knowledge about the production process is telling them they are a vicious asshole. Reality is that everyone learns different things at different times.

       Excuse me?

If you were lucky enough to not have a personal connection to people who had suffered for the production of a product, it was easier to be patient. With the separation that race privilege provides, for example, when white people talk about racism in post-colonial lit classes, and then go back to their lives, without a brother in jail or sister attacked, or, in the polite colorblind racism of capital, destined to work the toughest jobs for the worst pay, it was easier to discuss. Still, oppressed individuals had never been passive recipients, and had always fought for themselves: it just never made it to textbooks.



       You’re aligning yourself with stupidity. I know you aren’t dumb.

       It was just a joke… you’re so sensitive!

       Have you heard the joke about the white guy?



word by Liam Lachance

colour by Monsta

From the author: “I wrote this piece to confront how new racism isn’t about writing WHITES ONLY on your restaurant menu: it’s about jokes. It’s about keeping the idea that black people are dumber or lazier or more criminal or lesser through the daily repetition of how you and I reproduce it in our conversations.

In the case of the jokes on Ferguson riots – riots that concerned standing up and saying stop killing us; not because of a sports event – a joke suggested that all black people are lazy.

Any suggestion that all people of any race act a certain way is racist.

New racism is not the stuff of Hollywood movies, like how that really nice white quarterback gives legitimacy to the black players in Remember the Titans.

New racism is about highlighting black criminal behaviour, and hiding white murders; about highlighting Islamic extremism, and ignoring Christian mass murders (yeah, they behead too); new racism is about reminding everyone who is intelligent and who is funny to laugh at, like the poor black people of The Chapelle Show (why do you think he stopped?), or YouTube viral hits about interviews with poor black people; new racism is about keeping the order established by romanticizing old ideas: it’s so successful that people actually lament the death of “how things used to be,” as though things were better before because people in privileged positions felt less guilty about what they were doing to people.

Knee-jerk reactions of hate when people become aware of their complicity in systems of violence makes sense, guilty, but tantrums don’t help anyone – ESPECIALLY the kid screaming.

The idea is not hey look what you supported you vicious asshole.

The idea is this was designed for you not to know, so of course you didn’t, but now you do, so do something about it because ‘doing nothing’ is saying ah I’m going to continue to benefit from it.

The ability to sharing awareness relies on your access to class and gender privilege and space and time.

I have faith in the potential of people to come together, after recognizing they are being assumed idiots, whether or not they have tantrums: after realizing that they are exploited by particular interest groups for votes, sales, or support, used, and that they are paying the price when having tantrums in public, the face of racism: to confront this assumption of idiocy, to focus on real problems.

This writing was informed by the work of many people, including Son of Baldwin, Sean King, Anti-Racism MediaKim Katrin Milan, and Patricia Hill-Collins.”

Author: Word and Colour

words inspired by colour wordandcolour.com

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