It has come to my attention that some find my sense of humor offensive. While conversing with a fellow blogger about race and language, she mentioned my post on Hot White Chicks and my assigning “Hoe Potential” and “Pimp Potential” rating to each. Personally, I found the ratings quite amusing and rather creative but this particular woman was not amused. She then asked me if I would find it offensive if she were to use a joke using the N-word. I had to think about it for a moment. I’ve heard white comedians use the N-word but they did it in a particular context. But if the joke starts off with “A gook, a spic and a nigger walk into a bar...” Then that’s all I need to hear to let me know that I’m getting ready to hear a joke that is going to offend my sensibilities.
But truth be told, I have yet to hear a joke that includes a racial epithet that wasn’t meant to belittle whatever culture that was at the center of the joke. In fact, if the joke uses nigger, spic, wetback, gook, slant eye, honkey, cracker, Jew, porch monkey or any other slur then it’s a joke that I don’t want to hear.
I shared a room with a white guy when I was stationed in San Diego. He told me a racial joke. I didn’t think it was funny but neither did I think it was offensive. But I’m sure he told it to me the joke because we had a history. I doubt he would have said it to some of the other brothers in our barracks. So in essence, it would depend on the joke and who’s telling the joke. But that’s a slippery slope isn’t? After all, what is offensive is subjective and art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
So I wonder at what point does art and jokes become offensive? Could my post on white girls be skewed as offensive? Could the way I use urban vernacular as texture for my skits offend black people? Where is the line?
Years ago an artist used elephant dung in his "art" depicting the Virgin Mary. I would consider that offensive. The Novel, "The DaVinci Code" I wouldn’t find offensive. In Jay-Z’s rap, 99 Problems he raps, “I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one”. I don’t find that offensive. However, everything from the Two Live Crew is easily offensive as is most rap videos. The black guy in “The 40 Year Old Virgin” was stereotypical but most of the characters were and the movie didn’t seem trite so I was cool with it. But the superficial, stereotypical characters in the movie “Soul Plane” were an abomination and they shouldn’t have wasted their time making it. All of this is subjective because the basis for my conclusion is my personal taste and perspective.
So what is offensive? I found some black jokes online and I wonder would any of you that are not black feel comfortable enough to share these jokes with you black friends. As a matter of fact, would any of you regardless of race, repeat the following jokes and if so, under what circumstances?
1. What do you call a white guy surrounded by
* Three blacks? A victim.
* Twenty blacks? Coach
* Thirty blacks? Quarterback
* 200 blacks? Warden
2. Why don't niggers like country music? * Because when they hear hoe- down they think their sisters been shot
3. What is a cocoon? * A black guy with a stutter
I found this web site and to be honest, I had no idea there were so many nigger jokes. I did some more research and found a site full of ethnic jokes. It’s some disgusting stuff out there. I won’t even promote them.
Let's Talk About It:
1. At what point does a joke become offensive rather than provocative?
2. When does art and music cease to go from challenging the mainstream to offending our collective values?
3. Would you tell a joke using a racial slur to a friend who is from the race the joke targeted?