How Do You Handle a Racist Joke? Franchesca Ramsey of MTV's Decoded Has Some Ideas - VIDEO
If you've ever encountered someone telling a racist joke (haven't we all?), you know how uncomfortable it can be to handle in an appropriate, assertive, yet acceptable way. Luckily, YouTube star Frachesca Ramsey of MTV's Decoded is here to help us all navigate this often-treacherous territory.
She starts off the video by first giving a hypothetical scenario of being at a party where someone tells a racist joke about cops in the ghetto. She then asks the viewers what they would do in this situation and offers a list of choices they have in responding, which can be to respond in sarcasm, throw a chair, or to Google "How to handle a racist joke?" I'm guessing you choose the third option and she does too, since we do live in the Internet age, and what is Google good for if we can't use it to help us handle sticky situations?
If you're wondering why people get so offended by racist jokes in the first place or think we should all just lighten up when it comes to humor, Ramsey explains that racist jokes are not offensive, but oppressive. "Offensive jokes make people uncomfortable; jokes that are oppressive...actually reinforce negative ideas about marginalized groups of people," she says.
She then cites a study from Western Carolina University that found that for groups of people whose public perception is shifting (LGBT folks, women, people of color, etc.), jokes that reinforce the discrimination they face can cause people to think those prejudicial attitudes are justified.
You might be thinking "OK well...what about ironic racism?" Ironic racism involves making a joke about race that is supposed to be commentary about how bad racism is...but still involves racism. It's basically like saying I-know-that-you-know-that-I-know this joke is racist. As Ramsey says, "Words mean things and they can impact people in negative ways." So if you were planning on wearing blackface for Halloween as a way to comment on the ways people of color are targeted by the police, please think twice. Ironic racism is still racism.
If you want to know exactly how to speak up and do something when you hear a racist joke being told, watch the full video below.
Images: MTV News/YouTube