Choe Sang-Hun of The New York Times recently reported on how South Korea is dealing with race in the wake of a growing migrant community. Anti-discrimination legislation in the country has been met with opposition from critics citing a difficulty “to define what was racially or culturally offensive.”
Here in the U.S. we’re all scrambling for the same sense of clarity, especially when it comes to humor. Honestly, what constitutes as offensive these days and what is just plain funny?
Racialicious’ Deputy Editor asked the same question this week. Thea Lim blogged about Cornel West’s appearance on The Colbert Report last week. Lim inquired as to whether Colbert, with his trademark satirical style, was “just using West to make white folks laugh?” Here at The Root, we’ve examined how humor can, at times, cross the line, but how do you know when to stop laughing and start reacting? Should we stop being so sensitive? And if so, how can Seoul save itself from all this race-related confusion?
Clutch magazine’s “What to Expect When Dealing With The Racially Impaired” offers a little clarity. Deputy Editor Sky Obercam has compiled a list of signs for spotting the “racially impaired.” Obercam includes a handful of awkward moments that we’ve all unfortunately experienced, including the statement, “But my best friend is black!” And my personal fave: ignoramuses who discuss Africa as if it is one big country.
Perhaps, recognizing signs of prejudice get us closer to defining the big “no-nos” — what to say and what not say around members of a certain race. What say you?
–SAARET E. YOSEPH