Friday, October 28, 2016

Black Jeopardy

Okay, so I can take a joke, I think. I was hesitant to watch this video but I love Tom Hanks so I thought it couldn't be too bad. And I was right it was somewhat funny. I know my enthusiasm is underwhelming. It may not surprise you that I couldn't relate to most of the jokes. But my issue is not really with the jokes at all. It's with this skit being called, "Black Jeopardy." Not because it was offensive but because the references seemed "ghetto" or low class to me. All the "sista girl" neck rolling and "umm hum"-ming to the prize of car window duct tape. This just reinforces the idea of too many people, of all races including black people, that "black" and "ghetto" are interchangeable. This underscores the idea that there is only one type of black person and those outside of this parameter are pretending to be something they are not.

For example, many people black and otherwise consider August Wilson to be one of the greatest playwrights of his time. However, I was majorly disappointed when watching an interview of the "Fences" writer. The interviewer asked him to share his thoughts on, "The Cosby Show," which was a hit at the time of the interview. August said that black people like it but they know it's not real because and I quote, "black people don't act like that." He was reminded of a dining experience he once had. He said he observed a Japanese family having dinner at a restaurant. He mentioned how quiet and polite they were. He went on to say the waitress came and they paid the bill and left. He said something to the effect of, had that been a black family, they would have been a lot rowdier. They would have been snatching food off each other's plates, hitting on the waitress, laughing, snapping on each other, etc. My mother would have had my head if I or my siblings behaved that way in a restaurant or anywhere else for that matter. And we wonder why some people react to black people the way they do when this is the type of stuff they hear black people saying about themselves? Here's something else, someone, who I suspect was not black, even called first lady Michelle Obama "ghetto garbage" when she did the rap skit about staying in school with another SNL cast member.
A Princeton and Harvard-educated lawyer, mother, wife, philanthropist and first lady of the free world. Ghetto garbage? Really?

Here's another interesting story I saw a remark from a white woman who commented on an unfortunate video. I will describe it to you. A white woman, not the commenter I mentioned above, was in a relationship with a black thug from one of our great American states, I forget which one.
This woman ended up dead and the story was about the detectives putting the clues together to solve the crime. Turns out, it was the thug who had killed her. Someone commented on this video, " See that's why white girls shouldn't get involved with ghetto trash."  A white woman in a TMI moment commented to this person,"Well, I don't agree. My husband is black, we have been married for x amount of years, we have three kids and he hasn't killed me yet lol." Okay, so I'm just going to ignore the last part of ignorance in her comment, that's probably an argument to include in another topic. But those of you who get where I'm going already know the problem I have with this statement. First, I won't speak ill of the dead but to say they must have had something in common. I suppose it didn't occur to anyone that this particular white woman must have been ghetto herself. But also, to the secondary poster, no one said anything about "black" in the initial comment. The statement was about a "ghetto" person who happened to be black in this horrible story. Now if her husband is a ghetto black man then she should have made that distinction. But given her description of him, it was hard to tell.

So back to the SNL skit. I read a few of those comments as well and those who saw themselves reflected in these characters were quick to remark things like, "See? We are not as different as we think!" My question is, to whom is this "we" referring? Those who were more like me saw a parallel they drew between ghetto black people and the white rednecks in this skit. And that there is a bigger disparity between classes and education than there is simply between one race to another. I did notice that Sasheer Zamata who played "Keeley" had trouble staying in "ghetto" mode. I don't watch much SNL and I have only seen one or two skits of "Black Jeopardy," but perhaps, "Ghetto Jeopardy" would be a more accurate title going forward. I'm sure they'll get right on that.

And for the record, I don't have a packet drawer.

Sincerely, Helen Willis, The Zebress

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