Racist jokes as told by Spongebob
This isn’t what it sounds like. I’m not going to point out some racism that I saw while I was watching spongebob but I am going to try to make a parallel between the episode Squirrel Jokes and why racist (sexist, homophobic, etc.) jokes are harmful and not to be taken lightly.
This is my unorthodox way of illustrating why telling people to “lighten up” isn’t going to cut it. I thought using spongebob might simplify things.
So you have this friend, right? They aren’t too witty, not the funniest person in the world. They’re trying to tell these jokes and none of them are hitting. So they turn to the obvious: the racist joke. The joke based off of a racist stereotype. The one that will be an immediate hit with any bigot because “brown people! What’s up with that??”
And people are laughing! People think this joke is hilarious. This laughter is encouragement. This laughter is justification that what your friend said is totally cool because look at all the people who are totally cool with it.
But you’re not feeling totally cool with it… You’re surrounded by people who are laughing at you. Who are laughing at your friends and your family. And you’re singled out and alone. You laugh along but you feel dirty and ashamed.
So you talk to your friend when the two of you are alone. But what does your friend say? Lighten up. Lighten up and laugh at yourself. The joke was harmless! So you believe them and just go on with your life.
But then you’re out in public again and you hear people whispering behind your back. You hear them whispering the same prejudices and stereotypes that were the center of your friend’s joke! Have these jokes really affected people’s perceptions so much? Are they really internalizing these stereotypes and basing you and your entire character on something that was supposedly a joke? How can it be a joke if it hurts you like this? How can it have been a joke if people are touting it like it’s fact?
And then people are passing these stereotypes along to their children. The absolute kicker. That joke? That light-hearted joke? Has just infiltrated the minds of the next generation. That joke has perpetuated a racist and dehumanizing stereotype. And now not only will you be dealing with racism from people your age, but from their children as well.
Hope this clears some stuff up, I tried to make it as simple as possible.
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