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Jokes and Stereotypes: Never just a joke (Online discussions)

February 8, 2012

“Do racist jokes contribute to an environment that supports a racist hierarchy and racial discrimination” (103).  What are the relationship b/t stereotypes and jokes?  How often do you hear a racial epithet/stereotype on a given day, week?  What is the purpose and function of racial jokes?

While we haven’t talked about the idea of white racial framing, please think about these quotes

“By telling racist, and by insisting that they are only jokes, whites who tell them promote their acceptability, persistence, and harmful impact in U.S. society.  Racist joking not accents aspects of the white racial framing of society, but also is part of a widespread, often ceremonial activity that reinforces that white framing from one generation to the next and from one group to the next” (Picca and Feagin, 70)

“In a white-controlled society, including in predominantly white college settings, students of color frequently find themselves in situations where engaging in racist joking that is fundamentally white-framed, however, much they may suffer personally from it, is mandatory if they are to maintain a friendly relationship with whites who are important in their environment” (75)

 

Conversation ends February 20

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37 Comments
  1. Kaylie DeWitte permalink

    When people say racist jokes they aren’t aware that it may be offense to someone that heard them or to the people that they’re telling it to. I’m not black, but it offends me to hear racist jokes because I believe it’s wrong and disrespectful to others. If we’re all trying to get rid of racism in our country, then why do people keep saying racist jokes and thinking it’s ok because it’s funny and gets attention from others? So many people think that by telling racist jokes they will fit in better or have people look up to them. Or those that hear the jokes think they’ll fit in better if they laugh along with the joke and think it’s ok to be saying those things. Some people take it very seriously and are offended that there would be such a thing. All these racist jokes are doing is putting fuel on the fire. It’s no helping the country turn away from racism. It’s just a more “subtle” way to show racism. It’s a type of bullying that’s just wrong. I hear so many people around campus saying racial jokes whether it’s walking to class, sitting in a classroom, or waiting in line for lunch. I must hear those jokes a couple times per week. I usually hear people complaining about the sandwich maker because they’re going too slow, but then they turn around and blame it on their ethnicity. Sometimes it’s hard not to blame it on different races because you’re in the moment and frustrated, but their could just as easily be a slow, white sandwich maker and you wouldn’t hear as many comments about that person. Stereotyping and jokes go hand-in-hand. Most jokes are judgments against other races, which is also stereotyping that all people of that race are like that. You hear so many generalizations made with racial jokes because everyone assumes that just because they came from the same ethnicity they’re all going to be alike. That’s not always the case. People need to open their minds and think how they would feel if someone made a joke about them.

    • Desirae Meza permalink

      I would say when people joke about race they do not realize how they can be hurting someone’s feelings. It is sad to say that a majority of people who do joke about race do it to fit in. Some of my friends who are of non-color find it okay to joke about my race, but sometimes their jokes can be annoying or rude. My friends are already my friends so they should not be joking about my race just because they are my friends. I have a fault in not saying anything to stop them from making racial jokes but like a majority of people of color we fear that if we do mention something to our friends that we are being childish by complaining. By not complaining or saying something to our friends we are only allowing them to think it is okay to say racial jokes. Therefore, racial jokes continue to spread because no one puts a stop to it. Growing up as a minority in this society I have grown to see, and so have others that racial jokes happen on a daily. We hear them everywhere we go and do not realize that, that is helping increase racial discrimination. Regardless of what type of joke is being said whether it is against race, physical appearance etc. they should be limited. Sure we may get a good laugh out of it but in the end we do not know if we are actually hurting someone’s feelings. I cannot say that jokes should not be said because people would view it as having humor but they should definitely be kept to a minimum. I know that a lot of people intentions are to not hurt anyone, but their aim is to get a good laugh out of it. Our society has been immune to racial jokes and with the help of other sources such as television, ads, etc, jokes continue to impact a large group of people.

      • Desirae Meza permalink

        Btw I defininetly argree with you Kaylie^^, I hear a lot of jokes being said around campus and it is sad to say that jokes about race occur on a daily. I also agree with the part of us being allowing our friends to say jokes because we do not complain about it. But there are other jokes that are said that do not deal with race. Jokes may said about physical appreance and those jokes as well as racial discrimination should be limited. Any type of joke that may intend to make fun of someone is a joke that people view as humor. So I agree that people should put themselves in others shoes before they say a joke.

      • Is the question only about hurting people’s feelings or is it bigger than that — is about racialization, transmitting ideas/myths/stereotypes, and impacting all of us?

  2. Alex Clark permalink

    I believe that racist jokes are told for the most part to be a form of humor. I would not personally go around telling these types of jokes, but I wouldn’t label people who say these types of jokes as necessarily racist. People say them to fit in and be funny; I would hope that most do not actually support the things they are saying. It definitely doesn’t help the fight against racism if these jokes are said over and over again, which could then result in someone starting to believe these jokes.

    • Jacob Holmes permalink

      I feel you alex about the “I would hope that most do not actually support the things they are saying.” I know I make those jokes with my friends, and my friends make jokes right back at me. I would be telling my friend Marcus, “guy wheres the kfc…” and he would just respond to me as cracka and ask me where my white cap is at. None of it is being a kind of racism that is condescending in a way I guess, but it almost constructive in a way. It is affirming friendship because we can both laugh it out, and I guess it is almost a “feeler” like oh how is this person feeling today, because if they take a joke one way, it may be good or the other way, of course they may bite your head off. But honestly, if I heard someone goin up to my friend and asking him that in a hatred tone, in a second I would stand beside him and stand up for him, but between friends, it is harmless.

  3. Kaylie: Do you really think people aren’t aware? Do people tell these jokes in public? Do they tell them in integrated settings? And even if they don’t know, is that the sign of privilege?

    Alex: Funny for whom? Why does it have to be a what one is conversation/what was said conversation? What is the link between jokes and larger systems of inequality? Also, why is it funny?

  4. Alex Carkner permalink

    Jokes are usually said in a way that is making fun of someone. Yes, racist jokes are disrespectful, but so is making fun of people for other reasons as well. Race should not be something that is made fun of but if it’s not that, people will find other ways to mock and humiliate a person. As a white woman I haven’t heard as many racially focused jokes but I have been made fun of for other things. I’m not particularly strong or fast so in my advanced strength class I was mocked. I had no desire to join a sorority so I’ve heard jokes about being a lame GDI. People are cruel and take statements of facts and find a way to turn them into unjustified reasons of being ashamed. I do not believe that simply a joke said in regards to someone’s ethnicity makes them a racist person. It makes them rude, just as they’re rude for making fun of me for being a GDI, and the same way us “geeds” make fun of “sorostitutes”. So I respectfully disagree with your point that “they’re never just a joke”. People are made fun of for being too fat, too smart, too slow, too dumb, too white, too black, too short, too tall, too loud, and too quiet. All of it is disrespectful and no one likes it, but it happens. Being repetitively harassed and singled out about a certain characteristic is different, but is not considered a joke like what we’re talking about. I’ve learned that you can’t change how other people react to you, but you CAN change how you react to them. Whenever my younger brothers would bother me, I would whine and cry to my mom and each time she told me, “they do it because you give them a reaction,” and then she would carry on with her business. It always infuriated me that she wouldn’t scold them for being a menace but then I began to ignore them like she suggested and it worked ten times better than any scolding would have.

  5. Alex: As we will talk about in class, are all jokes or stereotypes created equal? Given the ways in which racist stereotypes/representations have justified enslavement, lynchings, genocide, colonization, and incarceration can we really compare it other sorts of jokes? You mentioned stereotypes about Greeks/non-greeks, yet do those jokes contribute to hierarchy and discrimination? You also mention ignoring . . . how does silence lead to transformation? As I mention above, why does it have to be a what one is conversation/what was said conversation? What is the link between jokes and larger systems of inequality?

    • Alex Carkner permalink

      I simply stated my opinion which I thought was the point of these discussions. From now on would it be better if I agreed with everything you said? Relating my point to the involvement of enslavement, lynchings, genocide, etc., is a bit extreme, a slippery slope fallacy I do not appreciate. Just because someone says a racist joke doesn’t necessarily lead them down the path of hate crimes. People make fun of each other, even themselves and I do not think it’s as large of an issue as you do. I respect your opinion, but disagree.

      • Alex: Of course, these discussions are a place of critical engagement and thought. Agreement is not necessary nor is it desired. Thinking critically and expanding the conversation is key. Let me clarify my question: I wasn’t asking if jokes or stereotypes lead to hate crimes but rather how do jokes (along other other representations, images, ideas) normalize institutional relationships, hierarchies, and other examples of injustice. If we think about the history of minstrelsy or images of Native Americans as savages, how did these sort of representations (which are presented as jokes) contribute to acceptance of these things. This isnt about causing or lead them to do something but how it fits within a larger system. I appreciate your willingness to engage these tough conversations and know that I will ask tough questions to push the conversations toward greater complexity and critical thought not toward agreement

      • Maddie Steiner permalink

        i agree with Alex. Most jokes are told at the expense of other people and I think that its okay to make fun of each other. Jokes are meant to be jokes and don’t always have to be taken so seriously. I believe that there is a point, like in all jokes, where you can cross the line. I’m not encouraging people to make racist jokes, but i do believe that tying racist jokes to lynching and genocide is an extreme assumption.

  6. Todd Mehrkens permalink

    I hear racist jokes at least once a week, but most of the time it does not register in my head that the jokes that I am hearing is more than just a joke, but a “racist joke.” In my opinion I believe racist jokes are sometimes funny when they are meant to be non offensive for all the people that can hear the joke. I understand that these jokes are disrespectful towards others, but most jokes that are being told are not for that intended purpose of hurting others. The reason why I think I feel comfortable around hearing these jokes is that they come up often in my life, so I have gotten use to them being just a joke instead of a way of being racist. When looking at the context of many of these jokes it becomes clear that they are a way for society to strengthen stereotypes. Every time you hear a joke based around a stereotype, it reminds people of the stereotype. After a while of hearing these stereotype jokes, sometimes people start believing that these stereotypes are real. As long as people keep telling these jokes, without recognizing the impact on society’s stereotyping, these jokes will keep reinforcing stereotypical images.

    • Alexandra Wilson permalink

      Todd, I agree with you that I am almost become immune to hearing these racist jokes. I believe our generation has grown up with these slurs whether it’s the influence of our family, friends and community. I know that people don’t make comments with the purpose to offend anyone; rather we are just so accustomed to stereotyping that it’s nearly second hand now-a-days. Unfortunately this realization is sad, and I think as a society we need to think before we speak more. Especially if you plan on traveling the world where such comments are seen as acceptable as they are in the United States.

      • Alex: You raise a really important point. How is social media — twitter, Facebook — impacting this process. I mean, we can go to google and find any number of stereotypes/jokes. Things come across the screen so often. What impact do you think these technological shifts are having? Appreciate the conversation from everyone. keep thinking critically and expanding the conversation

  7. Todd: How does privilege fit into this discussion; how privilege and segregation operate here? Also, how can we think beyond individuals to think about the relationship between jokes and institutions, mythologies, narratives, and societal values? How do these jokes help us make sense out of the inequality and injustice?

  8. Maddie: Thanks for engaging as well. Who gets to decide what is “just a joke”? As I noted,it is about one thing causing another but their relationship and historic connections. In their examination of white student attitudes and behaviors in both the “backstage and frontstage,” Leslie Houts Picca and Joe Feagin argue that jokes matter: Under the guise of “just kidding,” comments can be tossed around socially without concern for consequences: “It just a joke. Don’t take me seriously. However, even in an apparently light-hearted, joking context, racialized “fun” by whites usually reveals hostile and deliberately hurtful sentiments that are typically part of the larger white-racist framing of society. Not surprisingly, thus, one analysis of survey data found that racial remarks that white respondents defended as “just a joke” were often seen as racist by black respondents. By telling racist jokes, and insisting that they are only jokes, whites who tell them promote the acceptability, persistence, and armful impact in U.S. society. Racist joking only accents aspects f white racist framing of society, but also is part of a widespread, often ceremonial activity that reinforces that white framing from one generation to the next and from one group to the next.
    According to M.M. Manring (1998), “a joke is just a joke, except in the respect that it reveals a common cultural knowledge. . . . A good joke, by its very nature, collapses if it requires any explanation to the humorless.” Jokes “reinforce dominant ideas” (and ultimately flourish “because post-Civil Rights racial norms disallow the open expression of racial views,” resulting in the development of “a concealed way of voicing them.” This is true for sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia well.

  9. Alexandra Wilson permalink

    Racist jokes promote racial hierarchy and discrimination. No matter what race you are there is some racial slur related to your own ancestry. Stereotypically the racial jokes are made by whites about other minorities. These jokes are typically are stereotyped based such as, Asians being smart like we discussed in class. Or the video we watched today in class (2/8) where the three black teen males were vandalizing a car as a investigation and immediately people responded to stop the occurrences unlike the three white males. Just because of their skin color there are criminal raciest jokes. This demonstrates that stereotypes and jokes are directly related. I hear or read in social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook at least three racial jokes a day. I think people have grown up with these slurs in our generation and it doesn’t even faze them as inappropriate now-a-days. While all races typically all get along these days for the most part, everyone seems to poke fun at each other based off stereotypes, I don’t think most people are offended who grew up in the states but people need to be careful in case they offend a foreigner who are not immune to such racial jokes.

  10. Here is an article that talks about jokes and pushes readers to think about larger meaning and context, irrespective of intent. From Dr. Terence Fitzgerald (http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2010/11/02/racist-texting-examples-of-backstage-racism/)

    Racist Texting: Examples of Backstage Racism
    By Dr. Terence Fitzgerald

    The other day I was at lunch with my best friend. As we were laughing at the minuscule things childhood friends find amusing, we were interrupted by his beeping cell phone. He had received a forward text from a friend. After reading, he sighed and said, “Take a look at this crap,” as he quickly handed me his smart phone. The message read, “What would you get if Sammy Davis Jr mated with Bo Derek? Answer: A 10 of spades.” His phone suddenly beeped again notifying him of an additional message. Another person attached to the original text then forwarded the list of friends another joke. It read, “A Mexican and a nigger are riding in car . . Who’s driving? A cop!” After my immediate reaction of anger, I asked him if this was the first time he has received racist text forwards. He noted that, “These groups of guys send stuff like this all the time. I just delete them.” The interesting fact is that I knew his other Midwestern small town White friends since I was in high school. They always seemed to go out of their way to greet and talk to me whenever I saw them in public. I sensed they were not the most enlightened fellows, but my Black “spidey senses” never went into overdrive when I was in their presence.

    What few people know is that this type of behavior is worldwide. For example, a UK Councillor was recommended for “equality and diversity training” for forwarding racist jokes on his cell in June 2010. In July 2005, four policemen in the UK were fired for exchanging and sharing racist text messages. Also in the UK, it was first reported in 2008 that a service called 118-118 Joke Service, sent out daily jokes that included racist jokes to its subscribers. A Muslim student, Kameron Abbas, then 21, received the following:

    1. What’s the difference between ET and an Asian? ET got the message and went home.
    2. How do you save a drowning Pakistani? Take your foot off his head.

    With little research, I ran across several websites that one could draw from in order to send very racist jokes to friends . The most ridiculous and asinine comment made on one page asserted “Please note that these nigger jokes are only for information purpose. These are not meant for any sort of controversy or to hurt anybody’s feelings. A joke is a joke. If you are easily offended, we suggest you not to read these jokes.” The use of texting and forwarding offensive racist jokes is simply an example of the 21st century “Backstage Racism”. With the political circus that is evolving, racist evidence has been shown on Facebook and Tweeting. People such as Sarah Palin and Republican Minnesota State Senate candidate Mike Parry. Just last week, the national news reported the homophobic Facebook rants from an Arkansas Public School Board memberthat advised that “It pisses [him] off though that we make special purple fag day for them. I like that fags can’t procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other AIDS and die.”

    Leslie Picca and Joe Feagin explain and discuss how racial attitudes and behaviors demonstrated by Whites in private settings are more freely expressed with racially like peers. The fact that everyone attached to my best friends forwarded text were White, exemplifies this line of thinking. Moreover, this example illustrates that the white racist framehas indeed added new mannerisms and techniques that facilitate century-old White ideologies toward marginalized populations in a period of time many blindly called “post-racial.” (On the dramatic expansion of racist activity to cyberspace, see Jessie’s pathbreaking Cyber Racism book.)

    Sadly, we who are conscious and familiar of the many faces of racism and oppression cannot simply take the road of “deleting” as my best friend has traveled. We must confront these people and simply state, No. No, we will not be a part of this frame. No, I will not allow the marginalization of any people. Even if we upset those were speaking to, we must take a stand. To me, if I lose a so-called friend, it is simply one less person I would have to account for on my Christmas list. More money…more money. But I digress, in regards to my personal story, instead of wasting my breath of explaining racism, the white racial frame and its impact, marginalization, conflict theories, and matrix of domination to these leptons. I decided to send them a text of my own from my phone to the so called leader in the forwards. It read, “How do you get a racist to laugh on Sunday? Tell them the joke on Friday.”

  11. Chris Morgan permalink

    Racist joked absolutely contribute to an environment that supports a racist hierarchy and racial discrimination. Racist jokes are essentially based on racial stereotypes. Everyone, whether they want to admit it or not, knows the stereotypes that are associated with White’s, Blacks, Hispanics, Jewish people, Middle-Eastern people, women, etc. The list could go on and on. These jokes are often, in all honestly, funny because we KNOW that they are just jokes and based on traditional stereotypes and that they aren’t necessarily true. The issue though is that by continuing to tell these jokes and to allow them to be socially acceptable we are ultimately perpetuating those stereotypes and definitely not helping to dispell or discredit them. The purpose and function of a racist joke is to make fun of someone or a group of people to get amusement out of it. Generally these jokes are told in front of people you know and are comfortable with. For example a group of white kids might make a racist black or hispanic joke when they are with each other- not when they are with a black or hispanic person. In other cases though, and which is most common for myself, racist jokes are made with people of those races and they dont mind. We might make a hispanic joke around our hispanic friend BECAUSE he is one our best friends and he KNOWS we are kidding and would never take offense to it. That is the case with many groups of friends or groups of people. It doesn’t make it any more acceptable to tell the jokes because like I said it is essentially perpetuatiing the exact stereotypes that we aim to get rid of; but I think telling them depends on the situation and how comfortable people are with each other.

    • Michael Anderson permalink

      I absolutely agree with you that most racial jokes are only told when we know the people around us will not take offense. The fact that people filter who they tell racist jokes to shows that people know these jokes could hurt someone. However, like you said, many of these jokes are funny because we know that they are not necessarily true. Since people know that these stereotypes aren’t always true, it is interesting that people still act on these stereotypes like we saw in the “What Would You Do?” video. Although most people think stereotypical jokes are of no harm, the fact that you can find so many examples of people acting on stereotypes could disprove this thought. Whether or not racist jokes directly contribute to stereotypical actions, I do not know, but I think that they certainly help in the spread of stereotypical beliefs.

    • Olivia Newhouse permalink

      Chris,
      Do you believe that telling these racial jokes in front of friends doesn’t affect them or doesn’t define these stereotypes ever more? I fell like even when you say it around friends it makes you more comfortable and even agree with that stereotype more by telling a joke about it. I agree with you that these jokes aren’t helping dispell or discredit these stereotype but it’s hard to know we can do in our society to really help these stereotypes or jokes go away.

  12. DeShaun Mizner permalink

    I believe the reason for a racial joke is to feel accepted in a racist hierarchy. Although nobody wants to admit to being racist, a simple “black” joke can raise suspicion among any white person in my eyes. These jokes do contribute to social racism because its a vent that lets out peoples real feelings. I mean if your white and hate blacks, most your jokes are going to be about “n****s” and if your black and hate whites, your jokes are going to support the “cr*****s” in society. Yes i agree that a lot of people will make fun of their own stereotypes, but that won’t be considered racism since its about yourself, right?
    I hear a racist joke at least once a month, and judging on the hostility that each joke creates is the basis for how “racist” i consider the joke to be. If a joke focuses on a caricature of a particular race i may chuckle and say “thats stupid man” as where if a joke about how mexicans are filthy, i may become a little angered and began a small argument on how hard they work. I do admit that i should react to every racist joke the same, but in todays society you have to pick your battles, just to fit in to ANY crowd.
    The relationship between a stereotype and a joke is that eventually the joke becomes the stereotype. Just because one person drives by in their car and sees a hard working man who appears to seem mexican, instantly becomes an stereotype of all mexicans. The stereotype stops being a joke when it is blaming someone for something they didn’t do. Why are the black and the mexicans in the back of the cop car? White people, indians, asians all do crime also. Jokes jokes jokes is all it is, your friends will reassure you, but deep down there is a higher purpose for these slurs.

    • How does our differentiation between prejudice and racism fit into the discussion?

  13. Alyssa Rumann permalink

    I certainly believe that racist jokes contribute to underlying racial hierarchy. Sure, many people simply joke around because it’s funny and not intended to be taken in a serious way. While they might claim “no harm meant”, and very well mean it, it still testifies that racial differences are acknowledged in a derogatory way. Perhaps people try to make joking about a different stereotype acceptable by joking on their own, but it doesn’t REALLY fix the wrong. It’s a risky subject to talk about because I can easily make myself into a hypocrite. Naturally I want to avoid any chance of being racist, but I have heard jokes before that were said in what I perceived as a non-serious joke. The problem is that because the joke isn’t against me, I don’t take it seriously. How could I know that someone else wouldn’t be offended if they heard it? Drawing the line here is very difficult because there’s a lot of grey area. What is perceived as truly joking and what is taken as a racist comment is essentially up to the individual and how they choose to interpret it. Also, jokes originate off of some little hint of truth; they’ve simply been escalated or exaggerated into something others will perceive as funny. That’s why I believe that though most people mean no harm, it still discriminates to a small degree.

  14. Alyssa Rumann permalink

    I think Chris portrayed a certain aspect of this discussion really well: Sometimes we make jokes around the people the joke is about just because it applies directly to them. It obviously has to be the right setting though; we wouldn’t do it if they truly took offense. A group of tight friends that are diverse can joke with each other because it is light hearted and they’re all close enough to know that no one is trying to actually degrade another. While yes, racist jokes perpetuate the stereotype joked about, if it’s in the acceptable setting, that isn’t so much of a problem. Naturally there must be caution, and many people lack filters or awareness of particular audiences. This is where we run into trouble and more of a step backwards in eliminating stereotypes.

  15. Michael Anderson permalink

    I find that most racist jokes correlate directly to common stereotypes. A common stereotype for African Americans would be that they are athletically gifted. Therefore it is funny for some people to joke about an African American’s athleticism. These jokes then can become fuel to promote more jokes and spread stereotypes. These jokes are heard on a daily basis and to be honest, I probably learned about a lot of stereotypes simply through jokes. Now, given, most of racist jokes don’t really have an intention to hurt people and because of this I think that racist jokes help spread stereotypes more than they promote racism. This then leads to the question, are stereotypes necessarily a bad thing? I think the answer to that question would be different for each individual but would say for myself that it is what stereotypes cause that is destructive rather than the stereotype itself. Stereotypes and jokes will always exist but it is what stems from them that may cause harm. Comedians like George Lopez and Chris Rock make racist jokes all the time and most of the time people think they are hilarious and and of no harm. It is interesting, however, that most people find racist jokes to be pretty funny but also know that racism is a terrible thing. Maybe by preventing racist jokes, it could stop giving excuses for people to act racist by saying, “it’s just a joke”.

    • Olivia Newhouse permalink

      Michael,
      I definitely agree with you when you say you learned a lot of racial stereotypes through racial jokes. I have never thought of it that way but I’m sure I also learned many stereotypes through jokes that were said around me. Do you think that comedians like George Lopez or Chris Rock are helping define these racial stereotypes even if they aren’t meaning to? Even though they aren’t meaning to harm anyone do you think they are normalizing these stereotypes and showing the world it’s okay to joke around about race?

  16. Karlie Hall permalink

    We are seen to be surrounded by judgments and designated stereotypes in our everyday life. Whether we don’t recognize it or not we are always making certain accusations and bias comments towards others strictly based on stereotypes. In the society we live in we have embedded these prejudgment’s of certain groups of people based on the way we have perceived them to look, act, and behave, and under that umbrella we feel as though everyone that fits under that category will also look, act, and behave like that prejudgment. This act of referring and creating these stereotypes is an overall act of racism in that we are judging and treating people different because of the stereotype we have given them. Stereotypes are seen to be joked about a lot in racists jokes, and I feel as though we may not be aware of the fact that making jokes about certain stereotypes is considered racism, because it doesn’t necessarily discuss certain races or ethnicities. Although, “dumb blonde jokes” are seen to be very popular and by most people seem very acceptable. However, this stereotype of blonde females being perceived as “dumb” is considered racists and that blondes are given this category and judgment based on their hair color although this may not be true in most cases. I feel as though because our society is so accepting of stereotypes and the prejudgments that come with it we don’t realize how racists it is. What ever happened to “don’t judge a book by its cover?” In our society this phrase seems almost impossible in that its in our nature to judge someone and joke about certain stereotypes because it is so commonly accepted.

  17. Andrea Grade permalink

    It’s funny that jokes have always been an easy way to ‘break the ice’. Especially when first meeting people. A lot of the time, these racial jokes and slurs are said to make a situation less uncomfortable because I think often the “joke-teller” assumes that hey this person is of ____ racial background and they’d enjoy a joke that takes a stab at ___ racial background. For example, I dated someone that often made racial jokes. And although I never stood up to him and said that they aren’t really funny to me, I still laughed because I didn’t want to make things weird of awkward. Now that I look back on that, it makes me wish I would have stood up for what I believed in and said something about the inappropriate jokes that weren’t only racist but sexist and just plain dumb. In this way, I feel like I supported their acceptability, even if it was just to one person.

  18. Jacob Holmes permalink

    Racial jokes are tied closely to stereotypes. Seeing how jokes are always about the stereotypes, it is silly to think otherwise. Jokes have been the basis of culture and is a way to fit into society, it shows that you are aware of societal stereotypes, and therefore allows society to see you as “one” of the rest who believes in those stereotypes. I personally hear a joke about race or stereotypes every day, it is no big deal, I hear them about Blacks, Hispanics, Canadians, Middle-Easterners, Asians, hell, even White people! I do not find it degrading depending on the tone of voice taken, and the context of the joke while it is being given to another individual. Jokes are something to be laugh at, look at comedians on T.V. All they do is joke about race. This reminds me of high-school in downtown Seattle, going to a highly diverse racial private school, everyone was pitching jokes to one another, from one extreme to the other, from highly offensive to next-to-nothing racial jokes, all confirming stereotypes. The thing is, everyone knows about them, and has been hearing about them for their whole life, so now it is just another thing to have a good time over, not to have a fit about. Although, there are some people out there who do not know how to fit the mold, and have extreme opposition to these types of jokes. The above quotes give me the feeling of, it is only whites that come up with jokes about other minority races to almost put them down like dogs in society, yet when I converse with other races, cultures, ethnicity’s, whatever you want to call other people that are not of your own skin color, it is a way to affirm friendship, or to affirm hatred for one another. For me personally, it is a way to just joke and show brotherhood between guys and how we show we are cool with each other and comfortable around one another. I wouldn’t go up to some random person and start making jokes about stereotypes, but at the same time if I heard someone else talking about racial jokes, or stereotype jokes, I probably would snicker, because of what I stated earlier, I went to school with a potpourri of racial identities, and we all made jokes. Sense I have not first hand experienced it, except for movies and such, that making racial jokes can really have someone get in the mindset of ” white racial framing of society,” because I hear equally as many racial jokes going toward white people, as coming from white people.

  19. Olivia Newhouse permalink

    I believe that racial jokes contribute to our societies racist beliefs and racial stereotypes. I think stereotypes about specific groups of people come first then jokes are made about these stereotypes. I know that living in a town that has a lot of Hispanic immigrants racial jokes are constantly told about them being “beaners.” This name indicates they only eat beans because they recently illegally immigrated from Mexico. Even though a lot of the Hispanics that live in my town haven’t illegally moved to the United States my community automatically believe the stereotype that they are illegal and refer to them as “beaners.” Even though this isn’t a racial joke it’s still an example of how racial stereotypes function. I know I hear a racial stereotype or joke almost every day or at least every other day. Just walking from class to class you can hear people tell racial jokes or sexist jokes that they believe to be okay just because they are “kidding.” After being in this class I am starting to be more aware of the jokes and racial slurs that are said around me. I believe people say these racial jokes to try and make these stereotypes normalized. People don’t like to believe that this racism can really hurt people so creating jokes about it makes it lighter hearted, or so they think. As demonstrated in class, even when someone thinks they are saying a stereotype that can be thought of as positive like,” Asians are good at math,” it can affect how they do things as shown in stereotype threat. As revealed in the second quote, even though people say they are kidding when they tell a racial joke, the stereotype that goes a long with it can really hurt people and end up leading to more defined stereotypes for specific races in our society.

  20. Katie Nelson permalink

    Although racial jokes are sometimes accepted in particular groups of people, they often perpetuate a long cycle of racial segregation. When whites participate in these jokes they often don’t realize what they are doing, and unconsciously knock down people of a particular race in order to boost their own. This norm is then passed down from generation to generation, creating a long lasting and institutionalized pattern of racial segregation. If everyone is truly trying to stop and prevent racism like many of them claim, then people should realize that even laughing at a racist joke is discriminating against them. I do of course recognize that some people laugh in order to fit in, but there’s a point where someone needs to stand up against this norm and realize the damage it does to society. These racial jokes only coincide with stereotypes that are given to each race. We all have heard jokes about Asian drivers, and that right there is only a prop to the stereotype that Asians are bad drivers. People need to keep an open mind when they hear racist jokes and remember that they are only perpetuating the idea that whites are superior and people of color are inferior. You see this especially on college campuses when people remain quiet and are subject to doing whatever necessary to fit in, even if it means discriminating against blacks. People are most likely unaware when they are doing it, but it only further proves stereotypes when people crack the jokes. The only way to cut back racism is to realize the damage this has on people and take a stand against these stereotypes.

  21. Meesha Hoskin permalink

    I think (like most people have already said) that racist jokes contribute to an environment that supports a racist hierarchy and racial discrimination because even though people may not mean anything when they are saying a racist joke or making a racist comment about something; it constantly enforces the stereotype. Even though, racist jokes are seen to be ok because of the idea that racism if over, they are still giving the ok for people to believe that those racial stereotypes are true and to expect them to be. I hear racist jokes all the time and at least a couple times a day because they have become so normalized in our society. In a way I feel like racist jokes enable people to be ok with inequality and that is ok to treat people differently just because they are physically different and because of the stereotypes that have been ingrained in our brains through out history.

  22. Bryan Navarro permalink

    Racist jokes are very offensive to many people who take their meanings seriously. Although many people do laugh at these jokes that does not necessarily make them a racist or mean that they support the stereotype. Lots of comedians base most of their skits off of race for example Carlos Mencia and Dave Chapelle, I do have to admit that these comedians are very funny but that doesn’t make me a racist. Sure they do joke mostly about their own races but that is still offensive to many even though the comedian is of the same race. I think it is not as bad when you see a white person joke about how awkward white people are or when a Black person jokes about how gangster black people are because you know that they are not trying to prove any stereotype through a joke. Most of the time a joke is not serious and that is what makes it funny because you are not supposed to take it seriously, they are meant to joke at the stupidity of stereotypes not to enforce them.

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