We live in a postracial America. NOT! But alas, this is what a large number of white Americans believe. In fact, polls consistently show that blacks and Latinos see discrimination in their daily lives even as whites deny such discrimination. For instance, in the U.S. over 80% of blacks experience “day to day discrimination.” Meanwhile 56% of whites say there is “too much attention paid to racial issues” and whites were 235 times more likely to rate blacks as “lazy” than they were whites.
Given the fact that white people don’t acknowledge continued discrimination against black and Latino Americans and instead hang lack of economic success on “laziness,” it is not too much to say that whites now live in a fantasy world. Part of the white fantasy is to actually believe that making racist jokes shows how NOT racist they are.
All we have to do is watch Family Guy or South Park, which whites imagine as funny because they “make fun of everyone.” Of course this humor only is funny if you believe everyone is living in a postracial society and therefore everyone is equally affected by racism. It’s also why we’re forced to listen to the many racist “Linsanity” quips like ESPN’s headline about a “Chink in the Armor.” Ha ha. Funny ‘cause it’s racist.
And now we have Montana’s chief federal judge, Richard Cebull, who sent out a racist joke about Obama on his work email. The joke? Okay, you asked for it.
A little boy said to his mother; “Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white? His mother replied, “Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!”’
According to Cebull, a George W. Bush appointee,
I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is. I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama.
Yeah, that’s hilarious. After all, anti-miscegenation laws were in effect in the United States till 1967, when the Virginia v. Loving case finally struck them down. So there is nothing funnier than diminishing interracial relationships that were prohibited by law (as well as cultural norms) by equating them with bestiality. And of course the long history of white women being imagined as not having any desire for black men because they were “ladies” unless they were such slatternly sorts that they would sleep with a dog makes it even funnier. Especially since the supposed rape of white “ladies” was the main reason that so many black men were lynched in post-Civil War America. Ha ha.
Humor is surely one of many fields where racial hierarchies are both played out and simultaneously reestablished as “real.” That’s why shows like South Park and racist headlines at ESPN work. Because their audiences, white and nonwhite, already “get it.” But for a federal judge to publicly partake in such symbolic violence against black Americans is a joke gone too far. The only funny ending to this story would be if Cebull resigns.