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View Diary: Is This Joke Racist? (97 comments)

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  •  Well, (1+ / 0-)
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    Crashing Vor

    ok, I'll be honest here.
    Being Black, I sort of consider myself an unwitting authority on racism, but don't really get the joke here.

    It's not funny in any context, and in the given one,is just strange and random. Would it make a difference if the guy were Polish or Russian?
    I have to assume that it's the context that makes it 'racist' or not.

    As for the 'in group' theory, I think the most formidable weapon against racism is individualism. If we consider ourselves and everyone else individuals, race and its implications matter less and less.

    Kindness is the most important thing.

    by Maori on Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 08:54:50 PM PDT

    •  Right (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Maori

      In this case, the man being Jewish isn't necessary to the joke.  If I was telling the joke, I'd make the first guy from Ohio State, the second guy from the University of Michigan, and the "smart" guy from Michigan State University.  In my telling, being a Michigan State grad, my guy gets to be the hero.  But making him Jewish seems to imply an underhandedness and deceit.  The stereotype of Jews being smarter than Christians just doesn't exist in humor.  For example, imagine if it was told as a blonde joke -- the first person is a redhead, the second a brunette, and the "winner" the blonde.  That wouldn't make sense in joke-world.

      DMedia is looking for part-time regional sales associates to advance Democratic and progressive causes and candidates!

      by cartwrightdale on Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 09:04:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, it makes a difference (1+ / 0-)
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      Crashing Vor

      Thanks for the comment, Maori.

      Yes, it makes a difference if the guy was Polish or Russian because the joke is playing on two different well-know stereotypes of Jews: That they are clever and sharp (which of course is positive) and that they are unusually stingy and obsessed with money (obviously negative).  In different contexts, different stereotypes get activated, which makes it appropriate in some contexts and racist in others.

      •  Hmmm, fascinating (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Crashing Vor, marykk

        I know of the stereotypes about Blacks (criminals, terrible with money), considering the juxtaposition of the check-giver being Black.
        Does that context change the joke, or make it more or less racist?

        Just a little mental exercise...

        Kindness is the most important thing.

        by Maori on Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 09:20:01 PM PDT

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        •  I like mental exercises (1+ / 0-)
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          Crashing Vor

          I think a Black protagonist doesn't work quite as well on the humor level, because the "terrible with money" stereotype is not one of the first stereotypes about Blacks that comes to mind.

          That said, I can see it being told in Black circles and getting laughs because there is street cred in hustling, especially if one can get one over on "The Man."

          Would it be more racist if the protagonist was Black?  I don't think so.  The stereotype of money-hungry, stingy Jews is more powerful and more salient than "terrible with money".

          What do you think?

      •  the second stereotype is not that they are (0+ / 0-)

        "stingy and obsessed with money," but rather, that they are dishonest and unethical.

        i don't know why a jew would tell this story at a bar mitzvah, but i hope it would not be from the perspective of, "we jews are clever and sharp," because ultimately the signal characteristic of the 3rd partner is not that he is clever and sharp, it is that he is a dishonorable thief, and any jew who admires his cleverness and sharpness is exhibiting the stereotypical behavior: exalting unethical behavior in the service of greed.

        i find the joke mildly amusing, but i would find it more amusing if it weren't connected to Jewishness -- if the third partner weren't identified as anything other than the third partner, and thus we can simply be amused by the idea of somebody being that crass and ethically challenged.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 09:32:23 PM PDT

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    •  I cannot help but rec the sentence (1+ / 0-)
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      marykk

      Being Black, I sort of consider myself an unwitting authority on racism

      It's not at all a stretch to imagine someone coming to you, voice lowered, with a different joke, asking, "Is it okay if I think this is funny?"

      I don't even disapprove of this.  It just seems so. . . 20th Century, you know?

      Songs up at da web site! Also. . . It's Kostown, Jake. . .

      by Crashing Vor on Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 09:55:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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