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The funny thing about race

From Chris Rock to Ali Wong, these famous comedians have used their comedy routine to address racism in America.

Posted: Aug 21, 2018 3:26 AM
Updated: Aug 21, 2018 3:26 AM

I can't even believe that in 2018 I still have to lay out why diversity in anything matters.

But, when a white Fox News anchor denounces "massive demographic changes ... foisted on the American people;" and folks don't understand why Roseanne got the boot for saying senior adviser to the Obama administration Valerie Jarrett looks like a monkey; and at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, I was forced to share the stage with a hack comic who exclaimed to an audience that, "Comedy ain't for talking about racism or sexual orientation or being an immigrant -- it's about making people laugh," it is clear that everyone could use a bit of a refresher on the topic.

So, I'll keep it simple.

America was made for white men.

Literally, at the time of the writing of the new country's Constitution, only white men could own land, and only men who owned land could vote.

So, because of this, white guys basically got dibs on all the "spaces" first. Then they filled them up.

They filled them with their property, their money, their families, their legacies and their voices. Loud and clear.

Comedy was one of those spaces they found, and they filled it up, too.

I'm a black woman in America, and I grew up watching comedy performed by every single kind of white man across various stereotypes: from the loveable big guy, to the handsome douche, to the awkward nerd and the neurotic Jew, to the witty everyday dude, to the loud angry man, the sociopolitical genius, the one who talks about nothing, the misogynist Italian, the anti-social savant, the whimsical dad, the rapey frat boy, the geek-to-chic, the previously obese, the currently divorcing, the recovering addict, the closeted gay racist -- the list goes on and on and on.

They were the ones with the most space, so they ran everything, they were everything, and became the mainstream bottom line of what was funny.

However, times have changed and one thing we all know by now is that white guys may still have the monopoly on monopolies, but they don't have it on laughs.

I remember watching Jerry Seinfeld, one of my comedy idols, say this on an episode of "BuzzFeed Brews" with CBS in 2014:

"Funny is the world that I live in. If you're funny, I'm interested. If you're not funny, I'm not interested. I have no interest in gender, or race, or anything like that. But everyone is, with their little, calculating, is-this-the-exact-right mix? I think that -- to me -- it's anti comedy. It's more about PC nonsense than, 'Are you making us laugh or not?'"

I remember saying to myself, "OH CUT THE CRAP JER! Just say you wanna hang out with your friends, and leave it."

Of course, my fav, Jerry, is not the only one to say that, but to claim that giving a damn about diversity and inclusion is more about being politically correct than being funny suggests the two are mutually exclusive, when they're so obviously not.

Yes, in comedy, funny is what matters at the end of the day.

The other fact though, is that even with that argument, there is value and necessity in seeking out different kinds of funny and acknowledging the truth that -- for the longest time -- white men have unfairly dominated the comedy space.

To act like everyone has had the same access to share their funny is willful ignorance at its best -- and just a good ol' fashioned front at its truth.

Diversity is necessary because funny is what matters.

To not care about all these other untapped sources of hilarious is to limit yourself to such a short list of laughs.

When I speak of diversity I don't mean replacement of white comics. I don't mean acceptance by white comics. We comics who weren't born into the white guy paradigm of "funny" don't need a hand out. We don't need a PC push. We don't need "a look."

No one's stealing American jobs, or jokes.

We're simply saying, "We're here, we're coming, and we're making our own spaces, and if you truly care about this craft, you'll want all the great jokes to be heard, not just the ones you can relate to."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 263023

Reported Deaths: 5752
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17675191
Hinds16813331
Harrison14224204
Rankin11167219
Jackson10839190
Lee9050144
Madison8568168
Jones6668114
Forrest6177124
Lauderdale6097192
Lowndes5518120
Lafayette516298
Lamar503965
Washington4923125
Bolivar4104109
Oktibbeha405982
Panola384881
Pontotoc376258
Warren3674103
Monroe3671108
Union355663
Marshall355270
Neshoba3485154
Pearl River3468105
Leflore3111109
Lincoln305688
Hancock291862
Sunflower291475
Tate279662
Alcorn272354
Pike268981
Itawamba268063
Scott259648
Yazoo255256
Prentiss252553
Tippah249250
Copiah249049
Coahoma248054
Simpson242171
Leake237367
Grenada223272
Marion222073
Covington219973
Adams213671
Wayne212634
Winston207371
George204339
Newton199046
Attala196963
Tishomingo194161
Chickasaw189044
Jasper179538
Holmes171768
Clay165837
Tallahatchie156235
Stone151425
Clarke147262
Calhoun140822
Smith129226
Yalobusha122034
Walthall114337
Greene113529
Noxubee112926
Montgomery111636
Carroll106622
Lawrence106517
Perry104531
Amite101426
Webster96124
Tunica88821
Claiborne88325
Jefferson Davis88329
Benton85623
Humphreys84624
Kemper80520
Quitman7089
Franklin69917
Choctaw63213
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45117
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 439442

Reported Deaths: 6657
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson644371007
Mobile31435569
Madison28158217
Tuscaloosa21492275
Montgomery19873332
Shelby19248132
Baldwin17128189
Lee13137107
Morgan12594142
Etowah12070181
Calhoun11496206
Marshall10420123
Houston8988164
Limestone832081
Cullman8257124
Elmore8183110
DeKalb7871107
Lauderdale7847107
St. Clair7808130
Talladega6445112
Walker6028183
Jackson599145
Colbert548694
Blount546286
Autauga535862
Coffee460764
Dale409685
Franklin374150
Russell354215
Chilton344373
Covington338580
Escambia334544
Tallapoosa3143109
Dallas312996
Chambers303470
Clarke298036
Pike262431
Lawrence253355
Marion253161
Winston233342
Bibb222348
Geneva210247
Marengo208231
Pickens199531
Hale184944
Barbour180538
Fayette177829
Butler173160
Cherokee165131
Henry159525
Monroe152021
Randolph145536
Washington141727
Clay129746
Crenshaw123745
Macon121937
Cleburne121525
Lamar119922
Lowndes114836
Wilcox107922
Bullock103328
Perry99918
Conecuh97822
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63418
Choctaw51924
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