Here’s a fun one.
First, instructions from The Last Psychiatrist:
If you haven’t heard this before, pay close attention to your reaction to this clip; and then pay even closer attention to how it does/does not change at 1:30. Also think about how this would all be different if you were surrounded by whatever race you’re not.
Second, please share your reaction(s) below in the comments. You may want to do so before reading my comments or even the comments on The Last Psychiatrist blog.
Third, watch the short video clip :
In China? No YouTube? Here it is on China’s Youku, just skip directly to 26:45 (and see if your reaction changes at 28:15):
I LoL’ed, and I continued laughing past 1:30. I don’t think I’d stop laughing if I were surrounded by people of a different race. In fact, it’s hard for me to understand other people not laughing, but that’s probably because I recklessly assume that others know and think the same as I do which, obviously, is often not the case.
One person on The Last Psychiatrist commented:
Only an American could have written this bit, and only an American audience would think it is funny or poignant.
…which is interesting as well. Are these Louis CK jokes about white privilege and white guilt something only those who have lived in the context of American society can understand and appreciate? This wouldn’t be the first time people have suggested that Americans hold a special emphasis on race-relations relative to other people in the world, sometimes as a by-product of the United States’ history or a strange sort of political correctness.
I’ll be blunt and trust everyone to know the limitations of my following comments:
Race, along with ethnocentrism and nationalism, plays an unfortunately large role in the divide between many Asians (such as the Chinese) and Westerners (usually referring to Euro-American Caucasians). White people begrudgingly fear Asians and Asian people begrudgingly envy Whites1. Asians know they live in a world dominated economically, politically, and culturally by White society and have ever since the Industrial Revolution. Whites, for their part, have cause to worry about Asians threatening their position on the ladder of life. Nowadays, it’s the Chinese — all 1.3 billion of the little, yellow-skinned, slant-eyed, job-stealin’, toothpaste-poisonin’, intellectual property disrespectin’, brainwashed, tiny-dicked, commie bastards — but not too long ago, it was the Japanese.
It isn’t hard to understand the simultaneous envy and resentment — conscious or subconscious — non-Whites feel towards Whites, nor should it hard to understand the insensitivity and entitlement Whites take for granted over non-Whites.
Or is it?
Louis CK’s jokes hinge on how self-aware and self-conscious we are of our own race and how it affects ourselves and others. For example, if we’re White, whether we consider it “privilege” or “guilt” may depend heavily on just how angry we are about other people noticing. Being able to laugh at these jokes, continue laughing when it suggests some eventual karmic punishment, and still laugh regardless of what race we are and are surrounded with requires a certain measure of humility and security in ourselves…and what we had no control over.
In fact, the jokes don’t even have to be about race, but only about states of widely known or suspected inequality. Replace White people and non-White people with men and women, or Han Chinese and Uighurs, and the jokes still work…but only if we’ve already accepted our role in it, and that however unfair it is, we must live with it anyway.
So then, I guess, it’s really about how we live with it.
- Yeah, I said it! — Chris Rock [↩]