Even as a joke, are racist comments affecting the identity of a black person?


Guess Who: Racist Black Jokes

When we say racist black comments it can be funny or very insulting. From one point of view racist comments depicts many perceptions that people have about a black person that are true. On the other hand these racist comments can represent the negative aspects of black identity.

In the movie Guess Who there was a scene that depicted many black racist jokes that were insulting yet funny. Teresa who is black was dating a white man named Simon Green. Simon was invited to dinner so he could meet Teresa’s family. He was received warmly by the family and was very happy to finally meet him in person.  When Teresa’s grandfather meet Simon he asked her why she went that way and did the black men run out in New York. Teresa replied by saying that black men ran out about 10 days ago.

Simon preceded by telling the family how his grandmother felt about Teresa. He said that she thought Teresa was the sweetest person and loved her nappy hair. Instantly, Teresa’s grandfather jumped and told Simon where his grandmother lived so he could beat the living daylights out of her. After the conflict had settled, Simon told the family that he knew about many black jokes that he had heard throughout his life. He told a joke that referenced black men buried under the ground which he referred to as  Afro turf. Another joke referenced Tiger Woods that addressed white men chasing one black man the PGA Tour. Overall, the family approved of the jokes and they laughed very much until Simon referenced a joke that involved three things that a black man can’t get and one of those things is a job. Teresa’s grandfather was extremely offended and wanted to fight Simon.

What I interpreted from the Guess Who clip on racist jokes was that Teresa’s family seemed to not be offended by certain jokes that seemed racist, such as the Tiger Woods joke and the joke about the afro turf. One of the reasons might that these jokes are truthful and in a sense they bring a positive connotation because Teresa’s family can relate to these jokes. It’s safe to say that any racist joke that any ethnicity can relate to, find truth behind it and make it humorous can be accepting if it’s not directly insulting someone’s identity.

Simon referenced the joke about three things that a black man cannot get and one of them being a job that was very insulting to Teresa’s family. From a perspective I can understand that Simon never meant to offend the family, he was simply telling the joke without holding back. In this situation, the family may identify with black people not being able to get a job because it’s something that is seen in real life and it’s a common misconception that leads to reasons of skin color, education level and economic level.

In conclusion, racist comments turned into jokes can be funny, but at the same time they can be insulting. When someone uses racism as a way to create humor it all depends on how someone will interpret them. Teresa’s family handled the jokes well, but their identity was heavily affected.

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