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Humor and racism

The line between humor and racism is said to be extremely thin. This also reflects the contradictions in American society. Racism and racial segregation are a thing of the past and yet every once in a while evidence of its presence is thrown up in daily life, one way or another. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain the reaction to radio talk show host Don Imus statement that the Rutger’s Women Football team was like nappy-headed hos. This happened on April 4.

There have been different types of reactions to this outrageous comment from someone known for his tirade in public on a whole range of issues, and he has not spared even US presidents like Clinton. Don Imus himself apologized for the comments but said that his remarks were not racist. They definitely hurt gender sentiments and MSNBC suspended Imus for two weeks. The issue here is how does one draw the line on TV between humour and caustic remarks about individuals and social groups.

There may be an effort to rake up an issue in a humorous manner to shake up existing stereotypes, but there is little doubt that Imus’s remarks has united the Rutger’s Football Team. Eight of the women on the team are black and there must have been a sense that their gender and racial identities were being publicly paraded Purportedly racial remarks on American TV are not a new thing. The undercurrents of racism are very much present in American society; in a culture that fought a civil war to end slavery and racial segregation.

Two of the biggest stories in the American media in April 2007 have been first, the insensitive racial remarks by radio personality Don Imus and the exoneration of the three Duke University Lacrosse players on charges that they sexually assaulted a black stripper at a team party. This tells us of how easy it is to raise the issue of race in a country that is supposed to be the land of equality. Article Link http://www. nytimes. com/2007/04/15/weekinreview/15kennedy. html? _r=1&hp&oref=slogin

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