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As much as we all know Europeans, more commonly referred to as simply “white people,” gravely effed things up for Native Americans, Africans, and subsequently African-Americans, it’s also common knowledge that different ethnic groups didn’t exactly live together in perfect harmony across the globe before slavery, colonialism, or the trail of tears wreaked their havoc. Still, the running belief is race is nothing more than a social construct, and one which undeniably and substantially benefits white people. And it’s for that reason that Margaret Cho argues nobody was really even thinking about race before “they,” i.e. white people, got in the mix.

Speaking to Steve Colbert mostly about race-based jokes and the sensitivity that now surrounds them, but also the overall racial climate of the time, Cho told the Late Show host:

“What’s really annoying is that nobody really cared about race until white people got involved and now all we do is talk about race. All that white fragility is so annoying — you’ve got to walk on eggshells around white people.”

When I first heard Cho’s words, I immediately thought about the n-word and all of the debate that now surrounds its use. While there have always been Black people who’ve disagreed with the word’s resurgence into everyday African-American vernacular given its sour history, it wasn’t until white people started boldly saying the word (and being called out for it) and demanding answers as to why they couldn’t use the label that black people began an internal investigation on its use and, in some cases, even took on the blame for white people’s ignorance when it came to their adoption of the word.

Really, what’s happened is the more minorities push the boundaries in terms of what’s acceptable to say about race the more white people step in and say “ah, ah, ah, you told us this wasn’t okay for us, why is it okay for you?” Now we’re left with this society where everything is suddenly offensive, or appropriation, or racist, and we’re too far gone to turn back the wheels of motion.

I personally miss the ’80s and ’90s when a white person could sing with a little soul and not be accused of trying to be black. Or a black person could make a provocative off-color joke and no one batted an eye because it was all in good humor. While I’m not sure white people can solely be blamed for the racial big brother we all now have hanging over our heads, their fragility and inherent privilege which has led them to believe they shouldn’t be kept from saying or doing anything any other racial group can certainly hasn’t helped.

Clutchettes, do you agree with Margaret Cho’s claim that no one cared about race until white people got involved?

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  • Mico

    I mean if you’re talking about before wp came into contact with other races, then yes. But if we’re talking about the 80’s and 90’s comedy culture, where everything ‘wasn’t so pc’, and where comedians were given free reign to be jerks, then like Truth said, people should not be afraid to call out bigotry or be afraid of offending bigots. It’s one thing for black, poc, and other minorities to joke about their oppression and their personal experiences with it and being a member of an oppressed class. And yes, there are things that are hands off to white comedians/ennes who don’t want to show off their racism, that would be ok black/poc comedians to say. White people don’t always have to be included in everything, and that fact is not a racist statement. So to me, we should not be questioning whether we’ve gone too far in calling out racism, simply because wp are getting told that they can’t say certain things. And white folk DO NOT get to tell us how we can or should deal with our oppression. This is especially true, Amy Shumer, when we are getting killed because of racist rhetoric that you joke about, where we know you are not laughing with us or to cope, but laughing at us and our plight. The other thing I wanted to touch on is that there is then a difference between a poc/black comedian joking about their experiences with racism/oppression, and them spouting self-hating rhetoric in the form of jokes that furthers white supremacy/misogyny, ie DL Hughley.

    • Excellent, eloquent points like usual Sister.

    • theresa.

      I completely agree with everything you said. Additionally, we should not be afraid of or apologize for the tone in which we call out bigots, especially if it’s in anger. I heard somebody say once that POCs never got a gentle or friendly introduction to racism, so they should not be afforded any different when calling them out.

    • Mico

      Exactly. I would get mad at others being tone policed, because of the association made about black anger. It was only until recently that I really understood this, that we have a right to be angry, emotional, sad, etc, about our oppression. We have a right to deal with it in any way we choose, whether that be arming ourselves, creating and cultivating our own communities, protesting, or even rioting. Wp worried about being called a racist, we worried about us or our families being killed. Wp worried about how we’re speaking so harshly about our oppression and mad as hell about it, we worried about being denied jobs and education and the prison to pipeline. Liberal wp worried for us about us alienating our so called allies, we over here worrying about all the legal civil rights bills and laws being stripped and whatever protections we had being taken away. If you’re truly an ally, you would be mad too, because your fellow human being is being killed, raped, abused, and otherwise treated inhumanely. Bigotry needs to be exposed as it is evil, and at the most maybe people will learn, at the least right minded people can know who/what to avoid or deal with it head on if they have to.