American history has created a line of racial division in the country that can’t seem to be erased. Black people have been put in an unfair and unjust predicament in America due to circumstances of the past. Dave Chappelle's “Why Little Bit of Racism is Good For Us” proposes that America has created a prevalent divide between the labor and wealth of blacks and whites with its origins tracing back to slavery and the disadvantage that it put them at.
One of the jokes Chappelle makes refers to the difference in labor between whites and blacks. He suggests this through his use of body language and giving an example of the way in which both groups whistle or sing while doing so. When he explains how black people sing while working, he grabs the chair and slugs it over his back and walks slowly across the stage. During the walk, he hums in a dark and almost eerie manner.
On the other hand, when he explains how white people whistle while working, he skips joyfully across the stage. The insiders in this scenario appear to be white people because they are portrayed as enjoying their work. Just through the skit, evidence shows that blacks are struggling with their work. This struggle reveals that whites overall have much more fun doing their work compared to blacks. The distinct difference in attitude towards the types of labor conveys a strong divide between the type of labor that both groups have been involved with. The level of wealth often exists when discussing what type of work someone undertakes.
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Unfortunately, wealth in this country happens to be unequally distributed by race and particularly between white and black households. More often than not, African Americans are viewed as having less wealth than whites. This perspective stems from the fact that white people used to own black people and made them do the work that they didn’t want to do. Black families have a fraction of the wealth of white families, leaving them more economically unstable and with far fewer opportunities for economic mobility. Less wealth transforms into considerably fewer opportunities for upward mobility and gets magnified by lower income levels and fewer possibilities to build wealth or pass acquired wealth down to future generations.
There are many elements that play a part in this harsh cycle of wealth inequality. The continual discrimination has backed African Americans into a corner of our economic system. Due to this, they don’t have as many employment opportunities and the few chances they do receive are often for a lower income job. Therefore, African Americans have fewer connections to financially reliable jobs that have lasting benefits. These lesser jobs are reflected in the joke Chapelle makes about the differences in the work that the two groups encounter. All the market discrimination and hidden segregation continues to make the inequality gap worse. This racial wealth gap leaves blacks in unfortunate circumstances of mental, emotional and physical struggles.
For black people, their knowledge of America began with slavery. Which permitted whites to profit off of the bodies and bloodshed of enslaved people, who by law was able to be under the full control of their designated master. It has been more than half a century since slavery’s abolition, and America has yet to fully reckon with how to atone for this atrocity. The inequities that exist between blacks and whites today can be traced back to governmental policies that set them up for failures such as Jim Crow laws and segregation. These kinds of policies have consistently restrained blacks from having opportunities to grasp the ‘American dream.’ The ‘American Dream’ presents itself as a similar saying to America being a ‘melting pot.’ Such a phrase doesn’t hold as much meaning as it truly should due to the way it has been perceived by minority groups. There is no equality in opportunities.
Chapelle also makes a joke referring to himself as a “racism connoisseur.” A connoisseur, by definition, occurs to be an expert at something specific in his field. He suggests that since he identifies as a black person, he has first-hand experiences of what he perceives as racism. This little series of jokes, he describes how racism is different from region to region. He continues on with the notion that everyone in the south treats each other very openly about discrimination, specifically the whites and blacks.
In this joke, there’s not exactly a clear insider and outsider since he sheds light on the ways in which both parties single out one another. However, the blacks could be recognized as the outsiders here, because of the language he uses in part of the scenario. This certain choice of language used when he makes the comment about how white and black people say good morning to each other shows just how thoughtfully he planned this example out. He also uses a higher tone voice for the white person and a lower, more serious voice for the black person. He imitates a white person saying hello to a black person in a very disrespectful manner and has the black person respond with “sir.”
The different tones of voices used help represent how both people in the scenario would be feeling. Just that little piece of small talk can reveal a deeper meaning hidden in what he attempts to depict. That conversation can unveil the historical relationship between the two groups. The typical relationship between a slave and master was one of brutality. The master was in the clear to treat his slave as his property and they frequently did.
The masters’ understanding of blacks was that they lacked self-control and morality just because of their difference in color. This particular joke has the power to convey how a slave was expected to respond to their master no matter how abusive the terminology or behavior used against them was. This ethic was passed down through generations and still lives through some white people. It also lives through the inequity in the economic system between blacks and whites.
It has become easy to accept the norms, values, and privileges that are in place in America that benefit the majority. In order to come to an unbiased view of America, one must examine and question everything about the world. American history began with waves of immigrants, bringing their own cultures and traditions to a limitless new country. The great amount of diversity gives America the name of a ‘melting pot’ country and yet this diversity creates the challenges it faces.
America as a ‘melting pot’ may not truly define the kind of place this is. Even though America overall has made slight improvements since the abolishment of slavery, there are leaps and bounds still needed to get where we should be. The comedy used by Chapelle is consistently used in a ‘corrective’ fashion because he touches on real-life issues that truly need fixing. Everyone should have the opportunity to live an environment where they feel just as valuable as the person standing next to them, no matter their skin color.
- Url: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLt4-6Nypn8
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