I’m a Racist (kicking of Black history month with a bang)

I have been called a racist. More than once, in fact. It usually follows me telling a joke or making a very dry remark. Here is my go-to, “you’re a racist” story.

In my old club stand-up act, (which differed greatly from the show I eventually did in Churches) , I did a bit about tattoos. It ended with the following: “I don’t understand why Black guys get tattoos. I paused a football game the other day to try and figure out what this guy’s tattoo was. It was like one of those magic eye posters, popular in the 90’s. I even tried crossing my eyes and staring for 10 minutes, but I never saw the sailboat pop out. Tattoos on Black guys are like Black on Black crime: Nobody ever sees a thing, and nobody cares.”

OK. Now take a breath. Some of you are jumping to the comment section right now with “Das Racist!!” You’re probably linking the Youtube clip now (Google it if you haven’t seen it). I had a Black comic tell me, “You’re racist”. Some of you may agree. Now let’s do the most horrifically boring thing a comedian can do, and dissect a joke.

Part 1: I can’t make out the tattoos on Black skin.
That is an observation about my poor eyesight, but is also based in fact. If you watch any of the tattoo reality shows, (sorry, I’m occasionally guilty of this), inevitably you will see an episode where they talk about how hard it is to find colors that ‘pop’ and aren’t muted on African-American (which I will be – agree or disagree – from here on out referring to as Black) skin. There is a problem creating contrast with darker skin tones and ink.

Part 2: Magic Eye/Sailboat
This is solely a reference to one of my favorite 90’s movies, ‘Mallrats’. If you don’t know it, you may not fully enjoy that nugget, but for fans of that flick, it’s a great callback.

Part 3: Black on Black Crime – the Biggie
Here is the real issue when it came to my bit. This is the one that sent people into a frenzy. They think either:
a. “You’re saying Black on Black crime doesn’t matter.”
b. “You’re saying nobody should care about it.”
c. “You’re White and have no standing to comment on such matters.”
d. Kneejerk “White guy say Black thing = racist.”

OK, so let’s break them down, sub-list style
a. I’m not. I’m pointing out, as MANY Black pundits and civil rights leaders have, that Black on Black crime is ignored by a LOT of people. Also, Black on White crime, (and vice versa), seems to lead the news on any particular night. Many Black leaders view the biggest epidemic in their communities, not to be racism from Whites, but the in-fighting amongst their own members. You can agree or disagree with them on that point, but that’s another discussion.

b. I’m not. I’m saying a LOT of people don’t care about it. I’m also noting, as many have before me, that there is a “see nothing, tell nothing” viewpoint when it comes to the matter. Whether it be, a person that doesn’t wish to be involved, or the issue that within some communities, (Black AND White), there is an insular nature that doesn’t like, or trust the police. This keeps a lot of crimes from being reported or solved.

c. I can. Not because I’m White or not White. Not because I have Black children (I didn’t at the time). Not because I’m better than anyone. And certainly not because I’m racist. I can comment on it, because I SEE it. It’s called Social Commentary, which is defined as: a spoken or written act of rebellion toward an individual or group; commentary on social issues or society. I think I hit on both of those. I don’t agree with the practice of ignoring the crime, solely based on color, and I’m pointing it out. Also, I personally rebel against this notion that I have no right to comment on the subject (or ANY subject) at all. I have SOOO many more opinions, just like, ummm… YOU. I don’t share them all. Be thankful. When I realize that an opinion IS based in something as dark as envy, hatred, or race, I challenge myself to crawl out of that hole and seek forgiveness, and a better understanding of that particular topic.

d. Kneejerk is the only way I see someone believing I’m racist from the joke. If thought through intellectually, as I’ve attempted to do here, that seems the only way it squares. Some of you may be thinking that all of this comes from a life of privilege and protection based on being White. I’m sure that some of my thoughts and opinions DO come from that place – and I hope to challenge and change them. This wasn’t one of those cases.

I guess I should address the folks that say, “Meh, it might not be racist, but it wasn’t funny either”. Point taken. Humor is subjective. If you’ll allow me to boast… When I was doing this particular routine, very early on I might add, I was in an ‘Urban’ club, located in Kansas City. ‘Urban’ is a term used by comedy clubs (and the news) so they don’t have to say Black. If you asked a comic what the club is, 9 out of 10 will just say “it’s a Black club”. The 1 guy who doesn’t say it, is usually trying way too hard to make sure you think he never sees color. Well, my joke killed at this particular club. I got an “ooohhh” that turned into rolling laughter. This is my favorite type of laugh, because you can feel the audience challenging the joke in their mind, and then accepting it for what it is… funny.

Here is the most recent joke I made, relating to race. It was on my comic strip site, ForeverFamilyComic.com. You can see it here. Basically it’s me trying to sell my newborn White baby to pay for my Black children’s, (FYI we use the colors Brown and Pink in our house, unless… you know… you’re REALLY White or Black), college fund. I’m not gonna break it down in list format, but despite what celebrities are doing to get on magazine covers, White babies are WAY more in demand than Black babies. And if my wife and I had rented a very fit, in-shape White couple to pose as Ollie’s parents, we could have made BANK! This actually happens all the time, here in the U.S. Pardon the apparent pun, but there is a big Black market for White babies. I could never sell Ollie, (feel free to make me an outrageous offer – I may have a weak, sleep deprived moment and say yes), but I don’t mind joking about it.

My son CJ and I laugh about race all the time. I want to instill in him a LOVE of his differences, while pointing out we’re all really the same. While I can’t, in good conscious, get behind all of the things he said, the now deceased & Black comic, Patrice O’Neal was always quick to point out, “There’s racIST and racIAL”. Some people see the line differently. Some people don’t know there IS a line. I teach my son this: “If you think someone is LESS than or BETTER than, because of their/your race? You’re racist.” If you see a difference in culture that you don’t like or approve of, that’s not, despite what we are told day in and day out, racist. It can be ignorant at times. I’ve certainly been guilty of it. However, I can have disdain for the way elitist White culture rolls over minorities and still roll my eyes at a Black man who thinks his sound system is so great he blares it next to me at a stop light. My son can vouch for the second one. No matter what your race, if your fenders are rattling from the bass, he hears the word, “idiot” leave my lips.

Let’s stop jumping to the quick and easy opinion that someone is racist because they don’t like something about a person who’s a different color then they are. It could just be that person is an idiot. At some point both parties are acting like morons, but let’s leave the damning and shameful (as it should be) title of racists for the true offenders. There are entire tribes of people being wiped off the map due to race. There are social service agencies that would rather children sit in loveless foster homes, than place them with a family of a different race (I have firsthand knowledge of this). There are murders and injustice every day, done by people who truly think they are above other races. Let’s look to fix those issues before we nitpick every word and joke that comes out of someone’s mouth.

Feel free to share your thoughts, be it how wrong I am, or if you begrudgingly agree. You can find this post at ForeverFamilyComic.com or look me up on Facebook at Facebook.com/ForeverFamilyComic.