Note: While I have faced racism and I am a multiracial person of color, I also recognize my privilege as someone who passes for white most of the time.
Recently many white people have been complaining about “racist jokes” I make on my interactive social justice Instagram page. The moment I associate whiteness with kale, Starbucks or mayonnaise, flocks of white people flood my messages and comments sections saying how “I’m the real racist” and “I can’t fight hate with hate”.
Apparently making jokes about white people is the most offensive thing a person can do in 2017.
The problem with this mentality is that it disregards the history of racism within the western world. We live in countries that have violent histories of systemic oppression of people of colour, and to act like white people don’t benefit from white supremacy would be ignorant and out of touch with reality. This idea that we are all equal is a false promise used to silence people of colour whenever we speak up about our experiences. “Equality” is idealistic, but not realistic.
Jokes about white people have never really been that radical or violent, at least in my case. The extent of my white jokes is calling them ‘crackers’ and saying they can’t dance. It’s never really led to anything dramatic or of any real importance. People of color can sit around all day and call white people ‘mayos’ and nothing would happen. On the other hand, historically speaking, whenever white people have made jokes about people of color, it has led to extreme violence and abuse and has reinforced negative stereotypes which impact and shape how we are viewed in the media and in society today. Jokes about people of color have always had severe repercussions, but please do tell me more about how me referring to a white girl as “Becky” is oppressive.
Furthermore, many of us engage with humor in order to deal with our oppression. Is it seriously expected of me to be able to have a thought-provoking, enlightening discussion about systemic racism at every single moment of every single day? As someone who’s affected by it, that’s impossible. Sometimes making jokes about white people is a way I deal with the oppression I face. Especially as a prominent SJW on the internet, a day does not go by without some white person on my page making racist, ignorant comments. Occasionally, engaging with humour is a way I deal with it all.
It’s also important to mention that not everything online is catered to white people. Prior to the internet, we always had to make sure that everything we did would cater to a white audience. However, now this isn’t the case. The internet has allowed many of us to create spaces and communities solely for people of color. Just because you see us making jokes about white people online doesn’t necessarily mean you should engage with it. It’s an aspect of your entitlement as a white person which enables you to think every piece of information and media you consume is for you.
At the end of the day, making jokes at the expense of white people isn’t racism, nor is it prejudice or oppression. They’ve never really led to anything serious or contributed to a larger ideology which dehumanizes and harms white people. They’re just not on the same level as jokes about people of color.
And no matter how white people feel, making jokes about Beckys drinking mayonnaise pumpkin spice lattes while riding their horse that they named Kale will always be my favorite pastime.