If you have ever experienced having an annoying sibling or have a friend mock you, at home or in a public setting, I am sure you know how it feels when you realize that there is a limit to jokes like those. Some people mock your tone of voice or something that you have said and for a few minutes you might find humor in it but then after a certain point, it becomes vexing. Sometimes it just isn’t comedic. Some react more than others and that goes for any joke that just gets old.
When someone takes it up to a personal level and mocks the way that you walk, an accent that you have, the color of your skin, your hair type or your culture in general, it is no longer a joke. The reason for this is because the way in which someone walks, the accent that they speak with, the color of their skin and their culture are all characteristics that define who they are and how they go about their lives every day. When someone is teasing you in that manner it is offensive because it really means that, that person has taken the time to analyze your appearance, actions, and culture and found something within all of it that was funny. It’s funny when you do something out of the ordinary and acts a certain way on purpose so that you can catch someones attention or make them react to it but when you aren’t doing anything to draw that kind of attention it is not only insulting but, disrespectful.
Now, let’s forget about the jokes that your siblings or friends ever made to mock you, let’s forget out them taking it up to a personal level and let’s acknowledge those who actually find humor in someone else’s culture and appearance. All of what makes someone unique is what defines all human beings and so when someone mocks another person’s style or culture it is wrong.
During our class discussion on “Nobody knows the trouble I see” by Bernice Reagan Johnson, we spoke about the standards in African-American literature and culture and acknowledging the use of another person’s work. Reagen exemplifies singing or peaching in an African-American Baptist church as a something that relates to that topic. She says that when one sings in a unique tone or style it comes from finding individuality and a form of personal development in a way. She states that “Originality of voice and style is the true sign of a seasoned teacher. A true master is one who creates an offering with such power and originality that a new direction is established within the genre.” We all create our own offerings with our own form of power, its the same with blackface or any other form of racism. Whether it means posing with blackface and gang signs and posting it on social media as a joke or as simple as voting for someone who doesn’t care for African-American and Latinx groups. Whether someone does it blatantly or behind closed doors, they would be taking advantage of someone else’s form of power and signature.