Today I wrote this joke – “I like my coffee so white it can’t dance” – it’s not a great joke, hell it’s not even an ok joke and for all I know it’s not even my joke, but after I’d written it into the tiny box on twitter I just sat staring at it thinking “is that racist?”.
The truth is I don’t know, I really really don’t know. There’s no guidebook for this kind of thing and it’s not the first time I’ve had this kind of dilemma. A while ago I was entertaining people at MotoGP and I’d written a joke about seeing “hoochy mamas” in Amsterdam. The term “hoochy mama” was what was written above these ladies at the brothel I walked past and they were all large, black, older women. My problem was not the words “hoochy mama” as obviously it’s not a term I use ever and was a description of how they were being advertised, my problem was with me personally saying that the women were black. Even as I write this I feel myself cringing away from the keyboard.
(I sometimes dress as a 1970s fisherman when I blog)
I didn’t know if saying black to describe someone on stage was racist or not and had to ask my fellow colleague and friend Jason (check him out he’s very funny – Link) to get his thoughts. He told me that I shouldn’t even worry about it and really the only people I was ever going to offend were white people who were worried that saying it would offend black people. It also occured to me that just by worrying about being racist might mean that I am in fact racist.
Race issues have been discussed over and over by people with a much better attention span than mine but why have I personally got such a problem with it? I have no idea. I think it might be because I come from a middle class background and my mum used to describe ethnicities using bunny ears so she’d say ‘you know Tim? he’s “asian”‘ as if suggesting that perhaps he wasn’t asian and was instead pretending to be asian as some kind of ploy to make conversations about his appearance uncomfortable. If that’s the case then Tim succeeded spectacularly.
So what do you think? Should I be signing up to UKIP and declaring myself proudly white on all national surveys? Currently I tick the “other” box and add a hilarious description next to it. Other…Sperm whale.
(Studies show Staffordshire has 2.4 sperm whales per household)
Someone pointed this video out to me (thanks Dan) and I wanted to share it with you