Tag Archives: honky

White Dudes, Nobody Cares What You Think

14 Jan

Ever notice that many of the most ardent social progressives are young, single white guys? No matter what you do to get through your daily business, here’s ofay telling you that you’re doing it wrong. The food you eat is bad for you. The way you raise your children is wrong. The clothes you wear are evil because they disenfranchise some brown kids half a world away. There are alternatives, they tell us, in the form of sustainable, local wares that cost three times as much as the plastic-wrapped crap you get at K-Mart. But it’s all worth it! And you don’t have to give up anything, you can have all of your creature comfort treats and goodies. For example, you can eschew corporate ice cream for Bearded Know-It-All’s Iced Soy Milk, which tastes just as good. As piss-soaked snow.


It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that we in the Western world live pretty shittily. Why Professor Pothead has tasked himself with educating us, I have no idea. Because normally, socially-acclimated people don’t take advice from those on the fringes of society. I mean, you beanie cap-wearing weirdos think everything mainstream is wrong, that’s why you’re on the fringe. And now you want to tell me what shoes to wear? You opted out, buddy, the day you got that peace sign tattooed on your hand and decided to pierce your eyelids. It’s not about my prejudice, it’s about you living with the decisions you make. If you wanted to change the world for the better, then maybe you could have spent your college years learning about international politics or urban planning, or perhaps you could have gone and found work in a field other than dicking around on the guitar. You think tax laws are unjust, but you’ve never earned enough to necessitate paying taxes anyway. You act like you’ve got Phillip Morris by the balls because you roll your own cigarettes–friend, they own that tobacco, too.


You want to rail against Monsanto and tell yourself that shopping at thrift stores is more sustainable than Old Navy, be my guest. But no one is really checking for the opinions of surly white folks. Yeah, you’ve got seventy bucks for plastic shoes, but what you don’t have is two kids who need new shoes every year. What you don’t have is a mortgage, gainful employment, or the need to get regular haircuts. Your biggest concern is paying off your dealer. So perhaps as the Voice of a Generation, you fall a little flat. Maybe in ten years, when white people are actually a minority in America, we’ll listen to your pleas, if you have time to issue them in between finding work and keeping the lights on in your subsidized studio apartment. Come talk to me about Sri Lankan sweat shop workers after you get turned down at your twentieth job interview because the workplace has already filled their Mr. Charlie quota.

Why Do I Find Racism So Goddamned Funny?

23 Feb

The first time I can remember finding racism funny, I was about eight or nine years old, reading a classic Captain Marvel comic book (almost certainly a reprint) and there was a scene where Billy Batson had to stow away on a steamship for some reason. He disguises his face with burnt cork and adopts this ludicrous “sho’ nuff!” type of dialect in order to appear Black. I recall laughing to myself about it and surreptitiously stealing glances at these comic panels for weeks afterward, silently chortling and understanding that I was getting away with something wrong.


Why did I find that funny? My parents certainly never explained the irony of American racism, in fact my parents were vocally opposed to racism. To be sure, I don’t find hate crimes or bigoted violence funny, but I do think that most stereotypes and people’s attempts to imitate other ethnic groups are hilarious. I know why racism is funny, actually, though it’s difficult to explain. It has something to do with naive ignorance being issued as broad fact. I laugh at old medical texts on Phrenology and Christian sexual education films for much the same reason. No, it’s not really why racism is funny but why I find it so funny.


One obvious reason I can even laugh at racism to begin with is because I’m white. To chuckle at racism and minimize its effects is my privilege. A lot of people hear the term “white privilege” and they think it means “white guilt.” That’s not the case at all. White privilege is a phrase which simply acknowledges the lens through which white people view racism. Even being able to look at racism somewhat objectively is another white privilege. To step back and look at it as a weird cultural anomaly is something that someone negatively affected by racism might not be able to do.


I’m not immune to white stereotypes, either. I usually laugh right along with the crowd when a Black comedian adopts the curt, nasal whine of a tight-assed white person. In my gut, it feels the same as when I chuckle at Charlie Chan or snicker at Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. It’s similar to how I enjoy incredibly shitty, low-budget movies or insipid poetry. When people invoke stereotypes, they are trying to make sense of something foreign using the best tools available. While there may be a tinge of truth, overall the result is a complete failure because you can’t assign universal personality traits or actions to any large group of people. And that failure is what I find so funny.


This essay isn’t meant to advocate for racist stereotypes or to explain their cultural importance (though they are culturally important), but just to delve into why I find them so fucking funny, and always have. I think it says a lot more about my sense of humor than anything else. But what do I know? I’m just some white dude. I don’t laugh as freely or walk with rhythm like I understand Black folks do.

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