Shortly after writing a post about accidental racism, I watched the Christmas episode of Black-ish and I couldn’t help but laugh. There is a fine line between being racist and funny and it seems like the more of a minority you are the “funnier” you have permission to be. I have to admit I was a bit weary about Black-ish at first as I was worried it would be too politically correct or bring up stereotypical racial issues that I feel are way over represented. However, I was pleasantly surprised and now consider it one of the best new comedies of the season. In the Christmas episode there is a running joke regarding Mexicans. Perhaps because I live in Mexico for part of the year I have started picking up on more Mexican jokes than I used to. I find them hilarious. But, am I allowed to laugh?
Racism, like sexism, ageism, or really any -ism, is somewhat of a hot button topic for me. But, probably not in the way you are thinking. I realize that discrimination and prejudice happen all over the world, and even in our own neighbourhoods, but I do not think that the way we perceive or handle it (at least in North America) is beneficial or productive.
I find that many people tend to have verbal diarrhea when it comes to terms like racism and discrimination. Calling someone a racist does not automatically make you “win.” Screaming discrimination does not automatically entitle you to whatever you want. Sometimes, probably usually, race or culture or sex or religion has nothing to do with it. Now I realize that there are some instances when it’s clear that there is a bigger, underlying problem (such as Ferguson) and I’m not talking about countries/areas that have obvious concerns (like the middle east), but in most circumstances we need to take a step back and reflect.