During our afternoon tea, Warner and I lamented about how politically correct our culture is today. At the high school my wife attended, a math teacher was recently fired for making an inappropriate joke. He was demonstrating what an “acute angle” is with his arm. Realizing that it looked like a Nazi salute, he said jokingly, “Heil Hitler.” It took a concerted effort by his old fans like my wife to get his job back.
In a podcast by two professors of philosophy talking about racism, they claimed that no racist jokes are ever funny and that one should never make them. I would argue the opposite.
I moved to New York for college, and at the end of the first year, I noticed that most of my friends were city natives. Those from the suburbs were nice enough but kept to themselves. Most people socialize with others who make them feel comfortable. Suburban white people who move to cities like New York understand racism at least conceptually, so they treat people of color with respect. Some would go as far as to blame everything wrong with the world on white people, but they don’t go beyond concept.
Those who became my friends, including my wife, grew up in a racially diverse environment. They feel comfortable with people of all colors. They’ve developed an intuitive understanding of how race works, which gives them the confidence to make racist jokes or call out people of color for racist remarks.
With jokes, timing is everything. If you have to think long and hard about the risks associated with a joke, it wouldn’t be funny. You need to develop an innate sense of what you can get away with, but this cannot be achieved through reading books. A joke, in general, is an effective way to test how much respect we’ve earned from each other. White people who grew up in white suburbs are not capable of making racist jokes because they lack this confidence in their relationships with people of color. The easiest solution for them is to keep to themselves and to avoid making racist jokes, because, as soon as they try, their lack of understanding about race would be exposed.
So I challenge everyone to make racist jokes in order to push them out of their comfort zones.
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