While doing my nightly routine of perusing of tweets last night, a particularly crass tweet caught my eye. It stood out to me because it contained the “N” word. The mere usage of the word was not necessarily the offensive part, though I was definitely surprised by it. Rather, it was the context in which it was used in, and while meant to be a joke, I didn’t laugh.
I did a few double takes and thought is this for real?
So there is a twitter handle for Racist Jokes, fine, whatever. There is a twitter handle for everything these days so that’s not surprising nor upsetting. The alarming part is that someone, a “comedian” as she states in her bio, felt that this “joke,” was funny enough to promote and perpetuate.
If I had been feeling feisty, or ballsy, or anything other than exhausted, I would’ve replied back to this self-proclaimed “comedian” and asked her if she had just dined with Stacey Koon and Don Imus. But instead, I decided to write about it.
I flashed back to my early twenties, to a time when I was a liberal sociology major and carried the weight of civil rights and race relations on my shoulders. I took every African American Studies class offered at UCSB. I happened to be dating a black guy at the time, but I would’ve been taking those classes regardless. I was extremely passionate about this issue.
During the three years of dating D, he and I both experienced prejudices from family, friends and strangers alike. I was frustrated and infuriated that racism was still so prevalent in our society.
Last night, when I saw that tweet, all the stories of segregation and rampant discrimination from our county’s history came flooding back. Has nothing changed? Has no one learned a damn thing about how to treat one another? Or how our choices, even down to simple word selection, are so important and full of impact?
I don’t want to start a Twitter pissing contest with this woman about why she thought it was appropriate to retweet this tasteless tweet, so I simply unfollowed her and called it a day. I’ve blurred out her name from this tweet because I’d rather not give her any attention, traffic or fanfare from this. It’s her prerogative to be offensive and debase, and it’s mine to unfollow her, and then talk about her behind her back (though if she was to question me about it, I’d gladly meet her in the quad after 3rd period, kick her ass and then wish her luck on a stand-up career based on Kramer comedy).
But in all seriousness, freedom of speech allows this woman to tweet whatever she wants to, so, am I overreacting?
What would you think if you saw that tweet come through your screen? Would you laugh? Shrug it off? Unfollow her? Call her out?
I couldn’t tell her ethnicity from her profile pic, though, she didn’t appear to be black. But would her ethnicity really matter? The tweet is still offensive to me either way.
It all just makes me wonder where we are with race relations in this country. Despite the fact that our own President is black, I still don’t think we are where we should be when it comes to equality and suitable race relations. I also don’t think we are at a place where perpetuating degrading racial slurs is acceptable. Not sure we ever will be.