Another week, another topic of racial division. Sigh.
Honestly, your boy hadn’t planned to go all Malcolm X on these here Internets this week, but enough readers asked my thoughts on Racial Outrage #437 that I decided to weigh in.
In case you spent your weekend feverishly catching up on old episodes of “24” in anticipation of the Monday premier (like I did), you may have missed Leslie Jones’ hotly-debated Saturday Night Live sketch. After a discussion about Lupita Nyong’o being named People’s Most Beautiful Person of 2014, she went on a rant about being the No. 1 slave draft pick. Yes, you read that right:
“Look at me, I’m single right now, but back in the slave days, I would have never been single. I’m six feet tall and I’m strong, Colin. Strong! … I don’t want to be a slave I’m just saying I’m just saying that back in the slave days, my love life would have been way better. Massah would have hooked me up with the best brotha on the plantation.” She went on to joke about how she’d be squirting out all-star babies like Kobe n’ LeBron.
We need to do better.
I was actually surprised at the number of black folks condemning this skit. Don’t misunderstand me, though, I’m not defending it. It’s definitely worthy of criticism. And it wasn’t even funny.
But if you ask me, I think the constant Twitter harassment and outright demonization of Jones is out of line, and maybe a little hypocritical.
Watch me break this down to the very last compound.
Jones’ first mistake was to link her joke to Nyong’o. The woman has ascended to Black Sainthood, joining the ranks of luminaries like Will Smith’s clan and Tyler Perry. Criticize them if you dare – you’ll face the fury and anger of 10,000 Real Housewives of Atlanta reunion shows. However, unlike Smith and Perry, even I can’t find fault in Nyong’o.
Be honest with yourself – if you heard her joke at the all-black Laugh Lounge on the corner of MLK and Rosa Park streets (ladies get in free till 11 p.m.), would you have been as offended? Doubtful, you probably wouldn’t have batted an eye. And lord knows your favorite rappers say things just as offensive every day – in fact, her whole routine is just an extended 2 Chainz punchline, similar to lyrics you scream with the windows rolled up. Don’t front.
Sadly, I worry that in the case of many of these Internet shade throwers, they’re not so much mad at what Jones said, it’s where she said it and who heard it. You know the the deal – we say whatever we want when we’re behind closed doors, among “our own,” but you dare not to say it outside of those boundaries.
Why? Wrong is wrong, not matter the location or the ears that heard it.
I get it, black folks are embarrassed. And we should be. Lord knows I’m in perpetual SMH mode dealing with this stuff. But it’s unfair to condemn a woman for the very thing we’re ALL guilty of – making light of the darkest moment in our history.
Jones’ joke was bad, and sadly, may encourage comedians outside of the black community to crack similar jokes.
And if you thought THIS outrage was bad, wait until a white comedian says something similar.
But instead of making Jones the scapegoat, let’s cut out the slavery jokes both on stage and behind closed doors.
They’re just not funny.