#1 By: Cory Doctorow, December 4th, 2013 00:02
#2 By: kuangmk11, December 4th, 2013 00:50
Slavery knows no color. Maybe he should learn some history before he starts making jokes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_the_Ottoman_Empire
#3 By: robulus, December 4th, 2013 00:56
I guess the point he was making was about the global institutionalised slavery that created an entrenched privileged class and social disparity that shadows western civilization to this day.
But good on you for ignoring that point completely.
#4 By: Thecorrectline, December 4th, 2013 01:02
I don't think the double standard he refers to is really indicative of a healthy society. I wish he spent less time explaining why it's ok to be racist towards white people. Be a racist, make racist jokes, honestly most people won't care if it's funny, especially if it also happens to be true - but when you spend that much time explaining why it's ok? Maybe it actually isn't.
#5 By: Jim X, December 4th, 2013 01:24
More a speech than comedy IMHO. I do think he kind of blurred over another point - that reverse racism doesn't really exist. There's just racism. Also, there's the effective definition of racism as being negative, as opposed to say stereotyping which doesn't have to be negative.
Still it's, easy to nitpick. This was definitely an interesting exploration.
#6 By: FoolishOwl, December 4th, 2013 01:29
There's no such thing as "racist towards white people", because racism is a systemic problem. Racist stand-up comedians are just a superficial manifestation of the problem. Racist stand-up comedians are basically affirming their support for police abuse of people of color, discriminatory law and hiring policies, and so forth. People of color making jokes about white people may or may not be obnoxious, but they aren't affirming their support for any systemic abuse of white people per se, because there isn't any.
#7 By: aikimoe, December 4th, 2013 01:39
I think it's wrong to dehumanize people of color by pretending they can't systemically abuse people of other races.
#8 By: Thecorrectline, December 4th, 2013 01:43
I choose to believe that it is possible for any person, of any skin color, to be racist. I don't find any merit in calling this "reverse" anything - it is just racism, no matter who does it. That said, he is perfectly entitled to be racist if he feels like - I just wish he would get on with it. What could be worse than a racist? A racist that tries to give you all the reasons why it's just fine for some people to be racist, but not others. Just my opinion.
#9 By: TheGlitchEcliptic, December 4th, 2013 02:02
"Global", you say? How so?
Sure, the major Western powers like France, Spain, England, The Netherlands, and The United States all employed racially motivated slavery as labor pools for their colonial holdings - and to be fair, their combined colonial efforts reached all across the world. But it was not one single unified system, and while it was far reaching and massive, it was hardly "global" in the proper sense of the word. (Of course this might just be a matter of semantics and differences in our understandings of what "global" means, but the point stands.)
More importantly, you seem to be suggesting that Western European slavery alone somehow uniquely produced class and wealth disparity. Institutionalized slavery existed on every inhabited continent since time immemorial. The Ottomans, the Persians, the Native Americans, the Indians, the Chinese, the major African kingdoms - you name it, they had both slavery and the class and wealth disparity you mention.
And yet, if we stop and examine even more broadly, looking at regions of the world with little or lesser historical slavery, we still see class and wealth disparity. Slavery doesn't cause social injustice - slavery is caused by social injustice. It is a symptom, not the disease. Slavery doesn't occur where people have not already established hierachies and classes - where power and authority is vested in the elite. Rather, it is in fact heirarchy and class taken to the greatest logical extreme.
Slavery is an absurd and abhorrent concept, but that's not to say that non-Western slavery is somehow any different or special in any way. Slavery as a "global" institution is not the work of Europeans alone. Vast proportions of that global institution were established and entrenched by others. Look almost anywhere that existed in a feudal state at one period or another (this ends up being pretty much the entire world) and you will find institutionalized slavery in some form or another. Anywhere a king-like figure ruled, anywhere the wealthy elite held power, anywhere the aristocracy demanded final authority, you will find slavery.
The only thing that might make Western slavery at all unique or different than all the other kinds of slavery are its specific racial and religious motivations, a la "The White Man's Burden". Except it doesn't - enslaving others based purely on their race or religion actually dates back to Biblical times and before.
In fact, the one place where Western slavery is at all unique is in their being the first to strive to abolish it. The Rennaisance and the Enlightenment were chiefly concerned with Humanist values, with highly Liberal viewpoints on the nature of humanity, and it was these new ideas flowing throughout Europe that directly fueled the Abolition movement. In many other parts of the world, slavery would continue unabated for quite some time, often remaining legal for more than a century longer than in the West.
#10 By: hughstimson, December 4th, 2013 02:05
So are you arguing that his explanation for brown-on-white racism not being equivalent to white-on-brown racism was wrong? Or are you just ignoring that explanation?
#11 By: Eksrae, December 4th, 2013 02:18
As someone of mixed race, I can say the best way to suck the fun out of a joke is to over-analyze it.
Sit back, order another drink, and hit on someone who will make your mother uncomfortable.
#12 By: Øyvind Jakobsen, December 4th, 2013 02:28
So because racism towards whites doesn't happen around where you live, it's nonexistent? Like say, in Africa (as aikimo pointed out)? Or in Asia? Not always popular to be a caucasian in Japan, for instance.
#13 By: hughstimson, December 4th, 2013 02:39
It's about collective non-equivalence.
#14 By: sneJ, December 4th, 2013 02:51
It's just a lengthy justification for why two wrongs should make a right. I don't buy it. Racism is racism and it's not excused by the people doing it (or their ancestors) being oppressed.
Fighting back against oppression -- great. Calling out racist white people -- great. But perpetuating the idea that stereotypes are fun and you can make fun of huge groups of people based on characteristics they had no choice over -- that sucks.
#15 By: FoolishOwl, December 4th, 2013 02:51
You're entirely missing the point.
Zimbabwe did not kidnap millions of Europeans and force them into slavery. They did not invade Europe and claim its mineral assets and best farmland for their colonists. The opposite happened. I'm no fan of Mugabe, and my understanding is that the land seizures were a bit of demagoguery intended to shore up his authoritarian government. The white farmers whose land was seized may be the victims of an injustice. But that's scarcely comparable to the history of the slave trade, the legacy of colonialism, and the effects of modern exploitation by global capital.
#16 By: Thecorrectline, December 4th, 2013 03:01
I'm not interested in arguing about it. He's a mellow guy, his act is pretty tame, and features some casual white people jokes so that he can forward his agenda on racial equality. I just don't like racism anywhere, even if he is trying to put it to good use.
#17 By: aikimoe, December 4th, 2013 03:03
No one is suggesting it's comparable. But it is, quite obviously, "systemic abuse of white people," despite your assertion that such abuse doesn't exist.
And racism isn't just about systems. According to the dictionary definition (Merriam-Webster), racism is: "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race." So, when a person of color proclaims a belief that white people act a certain way just because they're white, then that person is, by definition, being racist towards white people (again, contrary to your assertions that "there's no such thing").
In regards to the video, the only thing worse than a racist comic is a racist comic who isn't funny.
#18 By: FoolishOwl, December 4th, 2013 03:26
And then you proceed to treat them as comparable.
No, it's not systemic. We're talking about two episodes, not a complex array of social processes and powerful institutions built up over centuries.
That's a crap definition.
#19 By: Stephen Frost, December 4th, 2013 03:40
I owe Aamer Rahman an apology. I didn't really believe him when he said at the outset that a lot of white people don't like his comedy. But then after I watched the whole video I opened up this discussion. Jesus wept!
The only silver lining is that if he comes across this thread he'll get another two minutes worth of material.
#20 By: Jonathan Roberts, December 4th, 2013 04:55
As far as I can tell, a racist joke is one that is making fun of the perceived traits of a another race or of people in that race. It could be funny or in poor taste, friendly or abusive, but it is a lot more likely to be offensive if the culture places the comedian's race higher than that of the person they're making jokes about. When Aamer Rahman tells a racist joke, he isn't trying to reinforce the belief that his group is superior, but often just to challenge the cultural blindness that people in a majority culture can have. Even if he did have bad feelings towards white people, his jokes would be unlikely to cause abuse against them. It would probably be quite offensive if Zimbabweans made racist jokes about white farmers, but this fairly isolated and short-term abuse is not on the same scale, especially as the white farmers had quite a bit of power left over from colonial days and many of them would be thought of much as we in the west think of bankers (rightly or wrongly). Racist jokes ≠ racist jokes + inequality + institutionalised racism.
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