11 April 2009

Is this a racist joke?

Is this a racist joke?


Click on the link above and let me know what you think.

Fifteen years ago racism was the very basis of South African society, a condition that had persisted for decades, if not centuries.

Now much of the institutionalised racism of the past has been removed (though I have my doubts about such issues as BEE (Black Elite Enrichment), and racist attitudes persist in places, we suddenly seem to be far more laid-back about such things than people in other parts of the world.

Being interested in English usage and similar things, I once remarked on a Usenet newsgroup about some things being discussed on a Facebook forum on darkie English, and people in other countries were shocked that we should use words like "darkie", which would be consdered a very bad racist insult in the US and the UK. In the US there was a huge row a few years ago because some public official used the word "niggardly", which has no racial connotations whatsoever, but apparently someone thought it did.

So are you shocked by the joke in the link, and if so, are you a South African? I suspect most South Africans might find it funny, but not malicious. Perhaps foreigners might not even understand it.


Husbands Anonymous said...

My own experience: I went from being an ignorant white South african, to being 'enlightened' (the period from 1990- 1998) when we were all buzzing about the rainbow nation, and taking xhosa lessons...
It is totally soul-destroying to watch the non-racialness of that period once again drift into racial polarity, as people feel threatened in terms of livelihoods and opportunities.
Racism? It is terrible- sepecially when you find those little roots threading their way through yourself.. It is very tricky to become completely accepting of everyone. Difficult, but not impossible. Avoiding politicians and their rhetoric is a good start. There is an uncomfortable amount of race talk with the elections coming up. One new man in Christ, right?

Anonymous said...

Please tell me how this "joke" enlightens us as Orthodox Christians at all? Shouldn't our sensibilities be different anyway? In the relativistic society we live in some are going to see this as racist and others not so how do you decide? All I can say is that if I came to your church and that joke was repeated I'd never return. Especially if repeated by clergy.

Steve Hayes said...


I was seeking enlightenment, not trying to give it. Actually not even enlightenment, just knowledge of what makes our society tick.

We live in a society that is still influenced by racism, and yet it is changing too. Twenty years ago most jokes about the customs of other groups were either intended to be hurtful, or were regarded as being in in poor taste.

The toothbrush could be seen as mocking the customs of one group, so I wondered how many people saw it as racist and nasty, and how many saw it as friendly and harmless.


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