Recently, I was at a party where everyone knew each other, but something came to my attention that I felt necessary to address. Often, we love to hear funny jokes because as people, we love to laugh. However, I don’t think making fun of someone’s race is a funny topic. Too often, people who are not native born Americans are subject to racial jokes that they themselves continue to laugh at. Yet, we expect these jokes to stop. In no way, shape, or form am I proposing a revolution to occur in order to put a permanent halt on this underplayed form of racism, but I do think it is necessary for us to think of how we can work on putting a stop to this.
Omi and Winant talked about racial formation being apart of our everyday lives in their article Racial Formation in the United States. They bring to light some interesting ideas, especially noticing that race, along with sex, are the first things we realize when meeting a person, and we use those two characteristics to preconceive who we think a person is. But sometimes, people are surprised by what I like to call the wild-card race, when someone looks white is actually black. People jokingly say “you look white” or “you don’t act black”, but in all actuality, what does it mean to act black? People of the same race act differently, hence why we are considered “individuals”. I understand that stereotypes will continue to drive the society that we live in today, but not every white person is rich and lives behind a picket fence just like not every black person robs stores and lives in the hood.
Jokes will happen. A good laugh is said to be “good for the soul”, but not at the expense of someone else. In order for America to truly eradicate racism, we have to start from the smaller end like this. We need to stop laughing at racist jokes and instead let the person who said it know it isn’t right to do that. Not every black person likes chicken. Not every Asian loves math. Not every Indian wants to be a doctor. Not every Italian is romantic. I guess the point I’m trying to make here is racial stereotypes and jokes are not funny.