Billy Crystal's blackface controversy: Puhleeeease

Billy Crystal's blackface controversy: Puhleeeease

Often I wonder if people just enjoy stirring up trouble. I have known several of this personality type over the years and quite frankly, I wish those people would exert their energies more usefully.

Last nights Oscar telecast included a short bit of host Billy Crystal in black make-up (actually brown if you want to get technical) impersonating Sammy Davis Jr. This is not a new bit for him as he did it numerous times on Saturday Night Live. To much praise I might add; never controversy. So, why is it that last nights bit was ablaze on twitter for being offensive?

Lest we all forget that Billy Crystal is Jewish. The Jewish people  have much of the same share of persecution, humiliation, segregation and yes, genocide. We have spent centuries experiencing many of the same racist actions that African Americans have. But this is not a competition to see who has had it worse. Racism is cruel no matter who it is against.

So, when Billy Crystal appears on stage we could say he is appearing in "Jewface". Right? Why not? In 2010 Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, who co hosted the telecast made comments that could have set the Jewish community on fire:

But I laughed. Actually I remember I was hysterical. I did not take offense, I took it for the innocent humor that was intended. No host is going to intentionally offend a group of people in front of billions of viewers.

Perhaps that is why Billy did not see any problem with doing an impersonation of Sammy Davis Jr. as he had done so many times in the past. It was a beloved character who before his death had enjoyed the impersonation himself.

Last night Hollywood honored Octavia Spencer for her role in "The Help". As well they should have. Yet, there are people who say that the role she played was still degrading to the African American race. Everyone, think back to Adrien Brody's win for "The Pianist". He is Jewish and played a Jew, persecuted in the second world war for being just that, a Jew. No one complained that he was playing a role that was still degrading to the Jewish community.

In Hollywood, people, not races are honored for their work. Denzel and Halle have been honored for roles that had nothing to do with being black. Natalie Portman and even last night's winning director Michel Hazanavicius (director of "The Artist") won Oscars for things that had nothing to do with being Jewish.

So, for the people that complained about Billy doing "blackface", think beyond your thoughts that everything people do is racist. It's not always about that. Blondes don't have themselves in a tizzy all the time for the infinite amount of "dumb blonde" jokes. We as a human race all have things about us that can be laughed at.

With a little more laughter and smiling, the world may be a happier place.

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  • He wasn't doing black face, he was impersonating Sammy Davis Jr. and as far as I could see (I walked in half way through) it was a pretty good impersonation. We probably would have understood it if he'd done it in his usual color (last night's being alarming shiney) but it would have been slightly weird.
    There seemed to be a lot of people on Twitter last night just looking for insults that weren't there. I was in the dog house for criticizing Ms. Jolie and I was commenting on the stupid leg sticking out at every opportunity. Sigh.

  • In reply to Expat in Chicago:

    Yes, people were just looking to criticize, that's for sure. And as far as Angelina is concerned, she just needs to eat a cheeseburger, soon.

  • Most of what people do can offend someone. I watched and I am an African American and did not realize it was Billy Crystal. I was not offended but did take note (at the time) that the stint was outdated. The best practice to steer clear of this type of stuff if you can; it’s just safer.

    As far as Angeline Jolie her eating or not eating is not impacting you so why are you worried about it..if she likes the way she looks then good for her.

  • In reply to LWOLFE:

    Steering clear of all things that may offend would leave little to a host's repertoire. Unfortunately, people will look for the littlest things to take offense by. And as far as Angelina goes, I think she is looking very boney. She just doesn't look healthy, though I won't lay awake at night and worry about it. Thanks for writing.

  • I believe the reason so many took offense is because at the time of Octavia's winning Billy made the comment about feeling the need to go out and hug a black woman but that he'd have to travel 45 miles (minutes) away from Beverly Hills to find one. His statement implied that black's are beneath him and his community so to follow up with a skip about Sammy...well, he truly pushed the envelope on what is acceptable as humor and what is boderline racism. My jury is still out on how I feel about it personally.

  • In reply to MsChris:

    Somewhere along the way I missed that part. Was that really what was implied?? I thought the Sammy thing was in the very beginning as I lost interest after the opening monologue. Thanks for your comments.

  • In reply to MsChris:

    Not even close. He was pointing out through his joke that Beverly Hills and the surrounding communities don't have many black residents. It had nothing to do with saying blacks are beneath him.

  • In reply to Jimmy Greenfield:

    I agree with you Jimmy, that would have been my reaction.

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    Comparing blondes to the historical racism against Black Americans is very insensitive. White girls (see how I assumed you meant White girls when you said blonde) are 'like' the demographic that needs to worry the least about any discrimination in our time. I do agree that intent is key, Crystal's intent did not seem to be explicitly or implicitly racist. I don't agree that token awarding doesn't exist in the Oscars, token awarding happens everywhere. I agree that racism can be forced into topics/events incorrectly. We're talking about the 'Abuse of Rhetoric' and the ignorance it foments.

  • In reply to Ivar Santan:

    Sorry if I sounded insensitive. It is never my intent. Thanks for writing.

  • In reply to Ivar Santan:

    As a blonde white woman, I would say that I've experienced quite a lot of discrimination in my time, and I'd venture to say that women (whatever their skin color) still don't have parity in some areas with regard to wages and promotional opportunities. It may not be on the level of African Americans in this country, but please don't suggest that we need to "worry the least". I would say that about sums up the white male experience only.

  • On Saturday Night Live, who loved Billy Crystal's impression of Sammy Davis Jr. the most?
    Sammy Davis Jr.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Amen.

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    In reply to Aquinas wired:

    That's silly, Sammy David Jr. was an elite, i.e., he had the status similar to a wealthy White person. Sammy Davis Jr. may have been Black but he was not a minority by then. I'm not saying he was not proud of his Blackness but, like O.J. Simpson, he stopped being a minority a long time ago. Republican Nixon seeked Davis Jr's endorsement because he was Black and Judge Clarence Thomas was chosen because he was Black to replace the exiting judge who was the only Black American in the Supreme Court and Romney's beautiful "Who let the dogs out" moment. I know the run-on. What I believe this shows is that our country has a twisted way of showing guilt.

  • In reply to Ivar Santan:

    Ivan, help me out here: How does one stop being a minority? Is it possible for me to stop being a majority?

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Oops, sorry. I meant Ivar. No disrespect meant.

  • The most embarassing and racist event was the standing ovation Octavia received after winning her Oscar. Why did they feel they needed to stand? Maybe because she is black and they look at at her as the only black talent in the room other than Morgan Freeman. Which of course this is not true. They also sure laughed at Billy's Beverly Hills joke. There are plenty of African Americans living in Beverly Hills. The Oscars just proves how racist Hollywood still is.

  • Does the fact that the Academy is 94% white change anyone's mind? I'm not saying Billy Crystal's impersonation was racist, but perhaps the African American population is a bit sensitive considering the source.

  • "Even inside the movie industry, intense speculation surrounds the academy's composition and how that influences who gets nominated for and wins Oscars. The organization does not publish a membership list.

    "I have to tell you," said academy member Viola Davis, nominated for lead actress this year for "The Help." "I don't even know who is a member of the academy."

    Not sure how sources have determined that 94% since the members are kept very private.

    The poke at Hollywood being all Jewish (in the youtube video above) could have been taken with great offense as well. Minorities are always going to feel sensitive. Always a strong topic for discussion. Thanks for writing Jenna!

  • In reply to Teppi Jacobsen:

    Hi Teppi!

    Just an FYI, the Academy voters' stats were printed in an LA Times article:

    http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/movies/academy/la-et-unmasking-oscar-academy-project-html,0,7473284.htmlstory

  • PS, because links don't work in these comments!

    "A Los Angeles Times study found that academy voters are markedly less diverse than the moviegoing public, and even more monolithic than many in the film industry may suspect. Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, the Times found. Blacks are about 2% of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2%. Oscar voters have a median age of 62, the study showed. People younger than 50 constitute just 14% of the membership."

  • I actually got my info from the same article. It's strange that right after they state the membership list is not published then they say the percentages. I wonder how they know???

  • In reply to Teppi Jacobsen:

    Teppi, they know because they state how they got their information IN the article: "To conduct the study, Times reporters spoke with thousands of academy members and their representatives — and reviewed academy publications, resumes and biographies — to confirm the identities of more than 5,100 voters — more than 89% of the voting members."

  • In reply to Shamontiel:

    I was going to say they use the same phenomenon as those magic public toilets that know when to flush, but I like your answer better ;)

  • In reply to Shamontiel:

    Wow, I missed that. My bad, thanks for pointing it out.

  • In reply to Teppi Jacobsen:

    It's all good, Teppi. You're not racist, we're just having a conversation. Love your blog!

  • So much ridiculousness in here I don’t know where to start.
    Arty, was the standing O for Octavia the only one of the night? I don’t think so. People of other demographics received standing O’s as well.
    Teppi, don’t apologizing for “comparing” dumb blonde jokes to black face. That wasn’t the comparison and you’re feeding the mentality that is leading to this stir in the first place.
    MsChris, (and you get credit for the most ridiculous comment) Billy Crystal’s comment was not a judgment on blacks, it was an observation that the population of blacks in Beverly Hills is very small. Based on the latest census information showing that that population is approximately 2%, he was correct. If anything, he was ridiculing the lack of diversity in the area.
    Bottom line: He wore make-up to reprise a role he’d performed on numerous prior occasions. He was not disparaging blacks, he was imitating a performer without any unflattering or disparaging satire. People please un-wad your panties.

  • In reply to Pike68:

    Well said!!! Thanks so much for your comments!! And I completely agree, per Aquinas Wired - if Sammy Davis Jr wasn't offended why should anyone else be??

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    In reply to Pike68:

    It is ignorant to compare how a blonde feels about blonde jokes in comparison to the racism experienced by Black Americans. The suggestion is that some ignorance, even if unintentional, is ok or should be ignored. I agree only to the extent that it's a waste of energy when it doesn't change people's lives, and let's face it, hollywood changes very few lives. It's ignorant to think that tokenism does not exist in Hollywood. Chris Rock said it perfectly, 'Racism will persist in show business until we have more than just the best Black [and other POC] performers in movies.' (Paraphrased) In other words until you see more POC everywhere in movies things won't change. There needs to be a balance and having most cast members look like Hitler's dream children is unbalanced.

  • In reply to Ivar Santan:

    Not THAT'S offensive!!! Saying that white blonde people are "Hitler's dream children" is a TERRIBLE thing to say! I'm a natural blonde with blue eyes and pale skin, and I'm also Jewish. You're just as stereotypical as the people you're calling out.

  • Does ANYONE agree with me that Octavia did not deserva a standing ovation?

  • Pike 68. No the other was for the 82 year old man but he became the oldest ever to win an Oscar. He deserved that. Octavia did not, she only received it because she is black!!

  • In reply to arty:

    I find you offensive, arty.

  • In reply to arty:

    Arty, that's an opinion that I am sure people want to keep to themselves. Plus, it could be looked at in two ways: That it was because she is black and the African American community has come a long way (Halle Berry received the same standing ovation for her win); OR, for simply being black. I'd like to believe through the rose colored glasses I wear that it was for her outstanding performance in her role. And that 82 year old man was Christopher Plummer, the patriarch of the Von Trapp family in the Sound of Music. He's had a lifelong career in movies and it was also well deserved and not because he was the oldest to receive. Thanks for your comments.

  • In reply to arty:

    A) So you totally deny that the ovation for Octavia was due to the substance of her performance? B) Considering the uphill climb that blacks have faced in Hollywood, is that so terrible? C) Why is Christopher Plummer receiving a standing O just for being old any better or more o.k. than Octavia receiving a standing O just for being black, if that was the case? D) That white witch Meryl Streep also received a standing ovation. Was that just because she's female? (In which case Octavia was equally deserving.) Was that because she's white and Hollywood was celebrating white supremacy? (In which case many of the other winners got screwed out of their standing O's, and the audience should be condemned for its overt bigotry.) Or was that because the audience was acknowledging her talent? (In which case, please explain how you can so definitively state that Octavia's and Mr. Plummer's standing O's were based on demographics and Ms. Streep's was based on merit.)

  • Well this didn't offend me. If he used the dark black make up then there would be a problem

  • In reply to Evan Moore:

    What did you think when Octavia received a standing ovation?

  • In reply to arty:

    I didn't watch the show. I was at work but it's good she won I guess.

  • Teppi I loved your comments and you are right. Pike not so much.

    I loved Octavia in The Help she had an outstanding performance. She deserved the award I just thought it was awkward how they all felt they had to give her a standing ovation. Don't treat her different just because she is black. The african american community has arrived there are many brillant black people in Hollywood so for a black to win best supporting actress should be no different. If Johah Hill won for best supporting actor would he have received a standing ovation? He is Jewish and the Jews had an uphill climb also. I don't think he would have. All I am saying some of the most brillant people are african amerian in Hollywood entertainment so there is no reason to treat Octavia differently.

  • In reply to arty:

    The Jews had an uphill climb in Hollywood? Really? Oh, that's right, there are fewer Jews in Hollywood than there are blacks. I notice you didn't address why it was o.k. to give an ovations to Mr. Plummer for being old, or why it was o.k. to give an ovation to Ms. Streep. I'm not surprised. So I am left to assume that, according to you, it is only o.k. to give ovations to white gentiles because then there's no chance they're getting an ovation for being black or Jewish or Mexican or....

  • In reply to arty:

    Arty, they may have treated her "differently" because so few "brilliant" African-American actors and actresses have WON Oscars. Or, maybe they gave her a standing ovation for the same reason other people give folks a standing ovation -- because they liked her performance.

  • Pike...Sorry I left out that... no he deserved the standing o because of his longevity in Hollywood and what he accomplished from the days of the Sound of Music. As far ad Meryl Streep she is a living legend in Hollywood and will go down as one of the best actresses of all time, Same reason you always see Jack Nicholson get a standing O when he wins an award. Legends deserve recognition and standing ovations Mr. Plummer is a class actor that at the age of 82 still winning awards.

    All I am really saying and Pike you said it also...Hollywood is STILL very racist and that's very sad.

  • I watched about 45 minutes of the Oscars, but I just can't deal with that show. It's painfully boring. I was surprised that anybody was mad about the Sammy Davis impersonation because I watched it and didn't even flinch. However, I do wonder whether you realize there's so much backstory to the Oscars as a whole. For example, you mentioned Denzel Washington. He's been in the industry for over 40 years but he was the first black performer to win best actor since Sidney Poitier. Halle Berry was the African-American woman to win best actress for her role in Monster's Ball. With all of the African-American actors and actresses who have come and gone (or stayed) through the years, that's really a shame that the winners are rarely ever diverse. And if you read the recent LA Times article "Oscar voters overwhelmingly white, male," there's a bit of pain when it comes to what the Oscars do anyway. I do wonder if after reading the article will you maybe think this isn't a matter of not being "happy" but a matter of knowing some folks just don't have enough common sense to know what NOT to do without a diverse group to plan an event.

  • In reply to Shamontiel:

    By the way, had I known Crystal was in the Sammy Davis makeup, I still wouldn't have been mad. However, I cringed when I read the "hug a black woman" comment in the "Red Eye." Whether he saw "The Help" or not, again, there's common sense involved and he didn't exercise it. On top of that, he was just a terrible host. I don't know why in the world he's done it so many times because I couldn't handle three hours of that guy.

  • "The Jewish people have much of the same share of persecution, humiliation, segregation and yes, genocide. We have spent centuries experiencing many of the same racist actions that African Americans have. But this is not a competition to see who has had it worse. Racism is cruel no matter who it is against."

    To get "technical" like you said, being Jewish is NOT a race. Hence, there can be no RACISM against the Jewish, only discrimination based on religious beliefs. So to once again be "technical", you cannot compare the discrimination based on belief to the RACISM based on RACE because they are NOT the same. There are parallels in experience, yes, but NOT THE SAME. Because at the end of the day, YOUR skin color is still white. And in today's society, you will NEVER face hatred and discrimination on that fact alone. BUT BLACK PEOPLE WILL, AND HAVE, BILLY CRYSTALS PERFORMANCE BEING A PRIME EXAMPLE. Just because he used to do blackface 30 YEARS ago, does not mean it is acceptable today.

    So when you see black people commenting on how offensive it was, you should probably listen up, because they will always know more about being black than you ever will in your life. That is the problem with non-POC (people of color): when a POC speaks, you never listen. And obviously, you are too ignorant on race issued to be ashamed of the racist - yes racist- things you post.

    I think this will give you a better insight:

    http://abagond.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/if-the-holocaust-was-a-part-of-black-history/

  • In reply to Javier:

    in 1875 Wilhelm Marr, a virulent anti Semite coined the phrase anti-Semitism and that Jews were a race. Hitler Used Marrs words to denigrate those who were of the Jewish faith. The Nazis defined Jews as a “race.” Regarding the Jewish religion as irrelevant, the Nazis attributed a wide variety of negative stereotypes about Jews and “Jewish” behavior to an unchanging biologically determined heritage that drove the “Jewish race,” like other races, to struggle to survive by expansion at the expense of other races.

    To carry his statements further we could say Jews in America are a race..instead of, I am an American of the Jewish faith.

    There is no way to justify what you have directed at me. I have not known what it is like to be black, you have not known what it like to be part of a heritage that was systematically exterminated in concentration camps. 6,000,000 Jews were murdered because Hitler intended to wipe us out as a RACE. That was racism. That IS racism. I have experienced taunting and bullying, rude and insensitive comments and been called a "kike", "dirty Jew", etc more times that I care to remember.

    What Billy Crystal did was an imitation of a man that when alive, welcomed it and enjoyed it. I don't believe for a minute that his plan to do so included inciting such wrath and anger.

    No one has to agree with my opinion. When one writes about a controversial subject, it is expected that not everyone is going to agree. However, nothing I said was in any way racist against the African American community. In fact, I defended Ms Spencer for receiving a well deserved standing ovation. I'd like to believe that's why she received it.

  • In reply to Teppi Jacobsen:

    Teppi---Javier made a valid critique of your statements on this thread. The idea that Billy Crystal's Jewishness absolves him of antiblack racism is insulting not only to people of color but to the experience of Jewish people in the United States. And while Nazism and the Holocaust are important chapters of our history as Jews, the American experience of Jewishness is what's most relevant when we're dealing with Crystal's impersonation of Sammy Davis, Jr. So I'd like to suggest that we focus on that history in this thread.

    While Jews have and continue to experience antisemitic bigotry in this society, the overwhelming experience of European Jews in the US has been one of assimilation into the white mainstream. Most white Jews born after 1960 have no personal experience with systemic ethnic discrimination---the kind that impedes your ability to eat, find housing, get a job, and get an education. From your defense of Billy Crystal, I'd argue that you've never personally experienced white supremacy. If you can argue with a straight face that "Often I wonder if people just enjoy stirring up trouble," then you don't understand what racism is.

    Instead of accusing Crystal's critics of being oversensitive, I invite you to learn the history of blackface/colorface in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Do some research on people like Bert Williams, Eddie Cantor, and Al Jolson. Understand the subject of blackface and caricature before you dismiss the arguments of people who may be better informed than you. This article from Wikipedia is a good place to start. And while you're at it, do some more learning about the history of American Jews and whiteness/white supremacy as well. You may be surprised by what you find out.

  • In reply to parkwood1920:

    Hey Avocado man, I think you and your sidekick Javier are reading a little too much of your own agendas into Teppi's piece, if not projecting your agendas wholesale.

    She's got a right to her opinion... one of which is that people need to lighten up. Thanks for proving her correct.

  • In reply to Andy Frye:

    Thanks for assuming I'm a man, Andy. Second, my agenda or lack thereof doesn't change the history of Jews or African Americans in this country. Nor does it change the fact that Tippi's blog post is uninformed and dismissive of a subject she admittedly knows little about. Do you have a substantive argument in reply to that? I didn't think so.

    As for your First Amendment posturing, those of us who disagree with Tippi have a right to our opinion too. Free speech is a two-way street. If informed criticism and dissent bother you, maybe it is you who needs to "lighten up."

  • In reply to parkwood1920:

    It's TEPPI, not Tippi.

  • In reply to parkwood1920:

    "The idea that Billy Crystal's Jewishness absolves him of antiblack racism". Wow, is that what I said?? I think no, I did not say that. I mentioned he is Jewish, yes. This is because he is part of a minority that has also experienced similar hatred. But I don't feel one bit that what he did was racist. What was once funny is still funny in my opinion. And I am entitled to that.

  • In reply to Teppi Jacobsen:

    [Sigh]. My final comment for the night. Here's a full paragraph of your own words, Teppi:

    "Lest we all forget that Billy Crystal is Jewish. The Jewish people have much of the same share of persecution, humiliation, segregation and yes, genocide. We have spent centuries experiencing many of the same racist actions that African Americans have. But this is not a competition to see who has had it worse. Racism is cruel no matter who it is against."

    Crystal's Jewishness wasn't even relevant, yet you used it to dismiss arguments about Crystal's racism. That is an absolution argument---not to mention a classic red herring. Your arguments are so sloppy that you can't even keep track of what you're saying. And finally, yes---you are totally entitled to your opinion, as uninformed as it is. And those of us who understand the history are totally entitled to disagree with you. Free speech is a two-way street.

  • In reply to parkwood1920:

    Please read this that was written in response to this: "Most white Jews born after 1960 have no personal experience with systemic ethnic discrimination".

    http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-then/2012/02/the-oscars-are-over-but-the-backlash-continues-2/

  • I long for the days when RuPaul and Milton Berle made fun of each others' garments and diapers.

    And when people had a sense of humor.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZsKKKEk0Yg

  • In reply to Andy Frye:

    Ahh, when people had a sense of humor. After today, I am wondering just when that was.

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    In reply to Teppi Jacobsen:

    So Teppi, I'm being argumentative because your article is 2nd result now on Google News for "Billy Crystal Blackface". What this means is that *people are reading this* which means that you have an influence on this matter, which means that you're telling people hurtful information that will have a negative impact on our culture as a whole.

    Please read this argument before you continue to argue on a social justice matters:

    http://derailingfordummies.com/#sensitive

  • In reply to Nick Wilton:

    Wow, from wanting people to just smile a little more and not take life so seriously to having a negative impact on our culture as a whole. Just a heads up, it's not my article second on google. It's a Reuters article by Tim Molloy.

    Perhaps you don't know how to view the world through rose colored glasses. Perhaps you can't see that there are people who say and do things that are totally innocent and not meant to hurt or offend. Or people that choose to live their lives by accepting things they cannot change. I am just one person that doesn't wish to hurt or offend. A cancer survivor (I only mention that as it changes ones view on what upsets them, or what I allow to upset me). What I am saying and I will stick to it is that I wish everyone would take things less seriously. And yes, I AM a lovely person. Let's close this now, you've certainly had your say. Thanks for writing.

  • In reply to Nick Wilton:

    Seeing as how this is a blog, the goal is to get a conversation started. Teppi has done just that. She is sharing her thoughts and giving others a chance to share theirs. Whether you like what she says or not, a dialogue has started and THAT should be what impacts our culture.

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    I'm sorry, but I found a good deal of this post to be predicated on false comparisons and a lack of social justice background in favor of "common sense" arguments that don't pan out upon close inspection.

    You said "this is not a competition to see who has had it worse (blacks or Jews)"... so why did you even bring it up? I'm Jewish and I'd have to be ignorant to compare my experience as a lifelong American citizen to the experience of a lifelong African-American's. It's disingenuous for you to then say you're not comparing when the ONLY reason you'd have to bring it up is for us to make that comparison ourselves.

    Next, you mentioned a controversial bit about Judaism from 2010. Okay. That's all well and good... but didn't you say we're not supposed to be comparing? You're in effect telling the African-American community that they shouldn't make such a full because WE didn't! How mature is that? As you said (but didn't follow), the experiences of Jews and blacks in this country is INCOMPARABLE!

    You then said "This is not a new bit for him", thus implying that if it was okay at one time it must still be okay now. This ignores social progress and the changing of times; where something was acceptable once upon a time, it often is no longer acceptable--that's life!

    Next, you said "in Hollywood, people, not races, are honored for their work." That ignores the subtle truth that the largely white 60s-aged academy members will look at female and minority candidates through a lens that is beyond any of our control. I could go on about this but I won't.

    Lastly... and this was downright awful... you drew a false comparison between being blonde and being black... AFTER admitting Jewishness and being black were incomparable.

    Please... next time you write about race... accrue some social justice background 101. This post is harmful and ignorant. I'm sorry to break it to you.

  • In reply to Nick Wilton:

    I believe in a world of free speech, I am entitled to my opinion. The purpose of this particular blog was not to incite rage but to say that perhaps as a civilization we need to not take absolutely every little thing so seriously. Who knows, there may have been Jewish people that were offended by the 2010 bit, but I wasn't. I knew it wasn't meant to hurt or offend. That's my point about the Billy Crystal bit.

    The blonde "comparison"? It was intended to point out that there are groups, races, religions, stereotypes in all walks of life that people joke about. And because of the way I look at life, a little innocent humor doesn't need to be blown into more than it was.

    And regarding your next comment, the Sammy Davis imitation wasn't hateful or hurtful. To even question if I would enjoy a joke joke about the genocide of 6,000,000 Jews is incomprehensible.

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    In reply to Teppi Jacobsen:

    I believe in a world of free speech, I am entitled to my opinion, too!

    Your purpose is irrelevant; when you put your opinions out in the open you must accept any and all backlash, no matter how annoying I may feel now.

    When you tell others not to take things so seriously, you must realize it's just that... *other* people's perrogative. You're telling *other* people what should matter to *them*. You're not valuing their life experience which informs their opinions.

    Basically, you, as a white person, are telling black people what should bother them or not.

    It's that simple.

    You've tried to pass it off through your contrast with the experience of Jews as a whole race. I have found that offensive as a Jew who would never draw such comparisons and now I am voicing my opinions thus.

    Now, as for the "blonde" thing... yes. I would never deny that people from all walks of life are denegrated and mocked by society. That being said... it's not "a wash". Not all people are denegrated equally, with blacks generally treated with far more scorn than a Jew such as you or I. You sound dangerously close to those people who claim we live in a "post-racial" society.

    I'm sorry to rain on your parade. I'm sure you're a lovely person to know in real life, but please, please stick to areas in which you have more experience than commenting on how other minorities should feel.

  • In reply to Nick Wilton:

    Nick, did you really just begin with "when you put your opinions out in the open you must accept any and all backlash" and then close with "please, please stick to areas in which you have more experience than commenting on how other minorities should feel."

    So you can comment on her post but she isn't allowed to write the post? That's pretty hypocritical.

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    In reply to Jimmy Greenfield:

    I trust she will comment here. I just don't personally believe she has the background to do so effectively.

    Hence "Please". I don't control anything here.

  • In reply to Nick Wilton:

    Background has nothing to do with it. Doesn't matter what race you are, this is simply a case of false outrage and it's something anyone can recognize whatever race they are.

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    In reply to Jimmy Greenfield:

    Outrage is an emotion.

    True or false is a statement of fact.

    There's no such thing as false outrage.

  • In reply to Nick Wilton:

    Sure there is. It's called acting.

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    In reply to Nick Wilton:

    Umm, Jimmy, I'm trying to understand what you meant in your last post.

    The only meaning I can possibly garner is that you implied any and all people, including a large portion of the African-American population, are acting.

    Did you actually just say that?

  • In reply to Nick Wilton:

    Yes, I've long believed in false outrage as a means some people use to accomplishing their ends. It's by no means meant for everyone, and it's absolutely not specific to any race or gender.

    But I do believe deeply false outrage exists and there are people who use it as a weapon.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jimmy Greenfield:

    Also Jimmy, that's unrelated to the argument here. It's valid, but unrelated nonetheless.

  • fb_avatar

    I just want to high-five Javier, too. Trust POC to know about POC things. Listen to them first before jumping to "common-sense" conclusions.

    In b4 "he doesn't have a sense of humor."

    How much would we enjoy Holocaust-is-funny jokes, ourselves being Jewish?

  • fb_avatar

    Was the bit outdated? Yes. But offensive...no. Blackface does not equal "makeup to impersonate a black person." Anyone who calls what Crystal did "blackface", has clearly not seen blackface as done in an old timey minstrel show...the burnt cork "black" on the face was the least offensive part. Even his joke about there being no black women in Hollywood...definitely in poor taste given the context/timing of the joke. But poor taste is also not the same thing as offensive.

  • In reply to Tatiana Greenleaf:

    "Blackface does not equal "makeup to impersonate a black person." Anyone who calls what Crystal did "blackface", has clearly not seen blackface as done in an old timey minstrel show..."

    Tatiana---blackface is any mockery of blackness for comedic effect. Blackface does not have to involve burnt cork or white performers. One of the most popular blackface performers ever was Bert Williams (1874-1922), himself a Black man. What makes blackface racist is not the quality of the makeup, but the act of stereotyping and mocking Black people and black identity. Plenty of performers of all races these days---from white comic hacks to Black gangsta rappers---regularly perform in blackface. Please educate yourself, start with a basic primer on blackface, and learn about Bert Williams and modern-day examples of blackface, such as racist costumes at Halloween parties.

    I am really disappointed that I have to have this conversation with my fellow American Jews in 2012.

  • fb_avatar

    ...and the standing ovation. People...stop over-analyzing things. Who knows why she got it? Have you ever been in an audience that gave one? Its started by a few people. And a few people join in. And then everyone else feels they have too. Its impulse and unpredictable. Maybe they gave her an ovation because they like her. *Maybe* they gave her one because there's been a lot of press and controversy about her role and they wanted to support her (that's my guess). The least likely reason is solely because she's black (not every black actor gets a standing ovation). But even if that *were* the reason...its impulse people! The audience doesn't take a vote ahead of time. If anything, the prolonged argument about why the standing ovation is more a reflection of the role of race and racism in America than anything that happened at the old, tired, outdated Oscars.

  • In reply to Tatiana Greenleaf:

    Thank you for your refreshing comments. I'm most grateful!

  • If the bit was "outdated" it's only because (strange to say, given the hot buttons here) that Sammy Davis Jr isn't revered by younger generations as the national treasure he is.

    Sure, Davis hailed from a time when musicians actually sand their songs without a voice modulator. But considering that Star Wars and Spinal Tap are revamped for new audiences (not to mention Karate Kid, all new), I hardly think an SNL flagship skit is outdated.

    Then again, in an age when a Justin Bieber haircut makes the news and a Kardashian's shoe purchase warrants a whole TV episode, I'm not surprised that a comedian doing an old skit referencing a music icon would fly way above the head of today's idiot TV viewer.

  • In reply to Andy Frye:

    I meant "sang" not "sand" in the second paragraph.

    He did sing at The Sands though.

  • As a religious, ethnic and gender minority, I am saddened by all this "over-analysis," as Tatiana puts it. I saw the Billy Crystal portrayal as "mimicry," the sincerest form of flattery - not "mockery." I would not presume to tell all African-Americans how to feel about it, but as a fellow minority I must say - even if you are outraged, ignore it and let your accomplishments speak for themselves. It will work wonders for your health and well-being, and will keep you focused on the bigger threats to racial equality.

  • In reply to jiyer:

    I can always count on you to say things so eloquently. Thank you for putting into words what I had tried all day to say.

  • Wait. Sammy Davis, Jr. is black?

  • Andy Frye: you must be white. You know how I know?

    "I think you and your sidekick Javier are reading a little too much of your own agendas into Teppi's piece, if not projecting your agendas wholesale."

    The problem is not that POC see racism in everything, the problem is that the majority of non-POC see racism in NOTHING. The only things you see as racist are the KKK and the n-word (<----and sometimes not even that).

    Let me try (though I think you are too far gone) to explain it to you and Teppi:

    First off:
    "Hitler Used Marrs words to denigrate those who were of the Jewish faith. The Nazis defined Jews as a “race.”"

    ONCE AGAIN, being Jewish is NOT a race. A race is defined as "Each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics." So just because the Nazis defined the Jews as a race, does not mean they were. Their application of the word race was used to facilitate and better be able to find logic for exterminating them, some being the stereotypes you yourself mentioned. But being a Jew is defined by being of the Jewish faith, which you also mentioned. And there is your contradiction: any RACE can be a Jew. Case in point, the Kaifeng Jews in China. Blacks, whites and asians can all be Jewish. But asians can not be black, whites can not be black, only BLACKS can be black. You yourself are a white Jew. Hence you have experienced discrimination based on religion, not racism, because to make fun of you for being a Jew, your faith has to be prior knowledge. But to make fun of someone for being black, which is RACISM, that can be done as soon as you lay eyes on the person because there is no escaping or hiding your skin color. That is why blackface is insulting.

    Nick, (high-five to you too), is on point when he says,

    "Basically, you, as a white person, are telling black people what should bother them or not."

    People who are being racist rarely realize it because they are not of that race. But racism is everything that is degrading or insulting to a race, and THAT RACE DEFINES WHAT IS INSULTING AND DEGRADING TO THEM.

    See, you two are so ignorant about race, that you get mad at POC for being insulted by your racism and calling you out on it. Then you go and try to defend yourselves by putting down their thoughts or dismissing them. Like telling them they are overreacting - Andy's agenda statement- or that it was not meant to be insulting and just funny - Teppi and Jiyer

    Which leads to my next point. Jiyer, you said:

    "As a religious, ethnic and gender minority, I am saddened by all this "over-analysis," as Tatiana puts it. I saw the Billy Crystal portrayal as "mimicry," the sincerest form of flattery - not "mockery." I would not presume to tell all African-Americans how to feel about it..."

    THEN DON'T. Because you are not black. The blackface did not hurt you or insult you in anyway, so you are able to view it as "funny" or "flattery". It is insulting to blacks because of the history attached to the act of blackface. Telling them to get over it, or see the humor in it, or that they are overreacting is akin to slapping them in the face and telling them to forget the history of their people and how they were treated.

    To draw parallels like you did Teppi, that would be like the Oscars making a Jew-in-the-oven skit and everyone telling you that OMG GET OVER IT, IT WAS JUST A JOKE, LIGHTEN UP, OMG Y U SO SERIOUS, JEW JOKES HAVE BEEN DONE SINCE LIKE FOREVEEEERRRRRR, PUHLEEEEEASE, JUST HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR, SHADDUP. I KNOW A JEW WHO WASN'T OFFENDED, WHY SHOULD YOU BE?

    Would YOU like that? 6million Jews died, among blacks and gays. If not, then don't expect POC to be happy when you do it to them. You also forget that slavery was practiced ever since Columbus discovered America in 1492 all the way up to Lincoln. THATS CENTURIES. I can assure you that more than 6 million blacks died, but you're dismissing that little part of their history as inconsequential.

    And Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin's video you posted up is a backhanded compliment. Yes, it was a Jew joke, but they were talking about the Jews at the OSCARS, the epitome of Hollywood wealth and glamour. They pointed out the success of Jews in the entertainment industry. IT CANNOT BE COMPARED TO THE INTRINSIC RACISM OF BLACKFACE. Nor to the no-black-women-in-BH joke, because that was just insulting: obviously, blacks cannot be rich enough nor successful enough to live in BH, so you have to go 40min away. And do you know what is 40 min away from BH? THE GHETTO.

    So please, educate yourself on these issues before you post up something insulting such as this.

    PS. As for the statement that I don't know what it's like to come from a heritage of people who were treated horrendously, I am from Aztec and Mayan descent, two amazing civilizations what were all but WIPED OUT by colonialism. Even the Aztec and Mayan languages are on the verge of dying out, and any true Amerindian is ostracized in Latin America. SO YES I KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE BUT AT LEAST YOUR HERITAGE IS STILL ALIVE AND WELL. So, once again, please educate yourself, YOU, not ME, is what is keeps racism going to this day.

  • In reply to Javier:

    Javier, how long did it take you to simmer over and write all these comments? And how much of an impact do you think all of your writings in response to this piece are making to change society - or even just the readers of this blog? As I said, use your outrage (and yes, outrage is often a good thing) to make a real impact - and use your accomplishments to change the world. This is how I will raise my African-American son, whom I love more than myself.

  • In reply to jiyer:

    Jiyer, took me 15min. This is not the first time I've called people out on their racism, and after a while, you get real good at it. But you seem to think that my writings won't have any impact whatsoever. My point is not to go around causing epiphanies in readers, but to get them to think critically about what they say or believe. Thats all I expect. Whether they do or they do not, thats not up to me. But social movements start from the bottom up, and every small contribution counts. If it means talking to a blogger about their viewpoints, then cool. What if it interests her, and she does some research, becomes better acquainted with the situation, and then uses her blog to talk about what she learns? Then she has become better educated and is now influencing her readers, who can influence others, etc, etc. The point is to get people to start talking about it, thinking about it, learning about it. Once it really becomes common knowledge, society can change. If everyone just sits there and takes it, not much will happen. My specific contribution may not do anything at all, but if everyone is contributing, things will start to happen. And changing the world takes more than huge accomplishments, it also takes small steps and small battles, those are the real impacts.

    And as the mother of an African American child, I would suggest you try looking at the world from the point of view of his people, not yours. Take an interest in learning about the current and past struggles of African Americans. If you were not offended on about this blackface fiasco on behalf of your son, how do you know you will be able to handle and teach him about all the other subvert and subtle racism present in our society? You will probably overlook things that the AfAm community would not. Take the time to really learn what being black means for him. Only then will you really be able to teach him how to cope with racism, which will help him attain those accomplishments you want him to.

  • In reply to Javier:

    15 minutes can do so much to benefit causes you are passionate about. Take this time to make a real difference.

  • In reply to jiyer:

    15 min and a google search can teach you how to better raise your AfAm child whom you are so passionate about. Take that time to make a real difference in HIS life, rather than telling me what to do with mine.

  • In reply to Javier:

    I do, thank goodness, it would be disastrous if he were to waste all his mental energy dissecting showbiz ceremonies. I am proud of the son I am raising, thanks to a wonderful AfAm community (I, unlike you, accept that it takes a village to raise a child and a community to grow and learn from) - a community which, thankfully, is not so hung up on an awards show that they don't take the time to lead by action.

  • In reply to jiyer:

    Well then you should probably give him up to the village/community cause you sure don't know the first thing about being African American. They do. :)

  • In reply to Javier:

    Did you really just have the gall to tell a mother to give up her child? Please do all of us a favor and take your continuous badgering and inability to accept others opinions elsewhere. I invite you to please read someone else's thoughts and find a new subject to carry on about. You have crossed the line.

  • In reply to Javier:

    Javier, your lack of wisdom, and inexperience, and youthful inability to understand what people mean when they post, shows. You are only 20 years old, after all, and know nothing better than to flail around and blindly attack. You are certainly smart, however, and will hopefully learn as you experience more in life.

    The first step towards acquiring wisdom is learning from others what you have the graciousness to acknowledge you don't know - some day, you will figure this out if you use your smarts the way I hope you do, young man.

  • In reply to Javier:

    You are not a Jew, therefore you obviously don't know that there are physical traits that are associated with us. These traits are noticed, believe me and there are plenty of people that discriminate as soon as they look at us.

    We also have name recognition in which simply by virtue of a last name such as Rosenberg or Schwartz, we are also discriminated against.

    You are right. I do not know what it is like to be black. And you do not know what it's like to be a Jew. And there were 6,000,000 JEWS alone that perished in the holocaust. The additional people that were murdered which were gypsies, homosexuals, and others numbered another 6,000,000.

    There are roughly 42,000,000 African American citizens in the US v 5,000,000 people of the Jewish faith. Due to the near wipeout of Jews during WW 2, our population is a fraction of others.

    I don't choose to make this a competition over who has the right facts. There is some merit to what you say; I believe there is merit to what I say. As jlyer states so eloquently, use your outrage and accomplishments to make an impact, to make a difference in the world. You are obviously very passionate about your race and culture.

  • In reply to Teppi Jacobsen:

    Those physical characteristics (big noses, et al) you are talking about are exclusive to WHITE Jews. Not Black or Asian or Amerindian Jews.

    Blacks also have name recognition in which simply by virtue of just a first name such as Tyrone or Shanice, we are also discriminated against.

    The death toll from four centuries of the Atlantic slave trade is estimated at 10 million. That's not counting the numbers of slaves who were worked to death in America, nor lynchings, nor those who participated in American wars.

    And due to the near wipeout of Mayans and Aztecs during colonizations, our population is a fraction of others: 4-6million Mayans, ~1.5million Aztecs.

    Invalid argument is invalid.

  • In reply to Javier:

    Lets not get into a competition here about which race or religion has suffered the most. Right now there are countries suffering far worse than anything any of us are experiencing here in America right now. Syria for example.

    Let us all be happy that we live in a country where we are allowed to express ourselves freely and are not ravaged by war and civilian genocide.

    We cannot change anything that has happened in the past. We can all only work for a brighter future. I feel enough has been said on this. You have made your points and while I believe you feel I have not listened to them, I have.

    I hope that you take your passion about your culture and people and make a difference with it. Have a good day.

  • Here's the thing, Teppi. You are entitles to your own opinions, but they are not exempt from criticism as we are also entitled to our opinions. Being entitled to your opinion does not mean when you say something, no one can judge you for it. In fact, it means quite the opposite.

    When you tell African Americans how to react to a situation, you are assuming authority over their actions..for the sake of speaking your opinion. If you can rightly do that, I can also rightly tell you that you are stupidly wrong.
    Do you know the intent and history of black face? Information is widely available. I do not think you are too stupid to look things up.
    If you don't know about a subject and yet you speak on it to more people who don't know about the subject (especially in the authoritative manner you do), you spread your ignorance and perpetuate the stereotype that Billy also perpetuates. You make it more okay to do this.
    Just because you don't understand how African Americans feel does not mean they are wrong. It means you do not understand. And if you would like to learn, you need to learn from the victims perspective. In this case, you don't know when humor crosses the line and you need to learn.
    When you keep pretending that all we need to do is take things from a lighter perspective and pretend like things are rosier than they actually are, you are denying reality, the reality African American's live..simply because it is not your reality and YOU CAN NOT RELATE.
    There are tons of humourous things to laugh at. This is not one of them. Teppi, it is okay to admit that you are wrong. I know that you are not African American, but to understand what they are saying, you need to open your mind up and consider things from their perspective. I believe a Jewish person just blatantly told you that even they are smart enough not to equate Jewish purge in Nazi Germany to that of African Americans. Might you dare to stop trying to feed your ego and wonder why?
    And for those who are questioning how productive these anti-Billy's black face and racist antics are, what are your suggestions. Ignore the problem and pretend like it will go away. Racism doesn't go away by ignoring it. It makes people think their racism is okay.
    Neither does the color blind approach work. African Americans are proud of their race for the strength and solidarity they've possessed and continue to possess. We do not want our color dismissed. We want equality.
    As an African American, Billy's blackface did not completely surprise me. I see many forms of racism that is being perpetuated by humor. His was only one of them. But for you to be dismissive of the fact that is was in fact inconsiderate of the racism he was perpetuating is ridiculous.
    As an opinionated person, I am telling you that you have no consideration of what reality is apart from your reality, as far as I can tell.
    When you humor our situations for us, there are lots of racist implications that are made that are proven correct by the silly arguments you make when we question your comments/opinions.

  • In reply to Temi:

    I believe that African Americans have suffered from racism. I also believe that many cultures have as well. Not just AA or Jews. Right now in other countries there are people suffering far worse NOW.

    I have discussed this issue with my fellow AA bloggers. One pointed out that the bit was not in "true" blackface. He was made up with brown make up, which you please note Evan Moore's comment above (he is AA) did not upset him as it was not in true blackface.

    Billy Crystal and Sammy Davis Jr were friends. Sammy loved the bit. That being said people are now arguing that Sammy wasn't a true black. This debate could go on and on and on.

    Here is my bottom line. If people were offended by it so be it. I live my life by this prayer.

    God, grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    the courage to change the things I can;
    and the wisdom to know the difference.

    Use your energies to make a difference. I live with the serenity of things I cannot change. I simply wish others would too. And if we can't laugh a little at ourselves, the world will truly become a miserable place. I'm done.

  • In reply to Teppi Jacobsen:

    Now you are repeating yourself:

    "One pointed out that the bit was not in "true" blackface. He was made up with brown make up, which you please note Evan Moore's comment above (he is AA) did not upset him as it was not in true blackface."

    I've already countered this argument:

    "To draw parallels like you did Teppi, that would be like the Oscars making a Jew-in-the-oven skit and everyone telling you that OMG GET OVER IT, IT WAS JUST A JOKE, LIGHTEN UP, OMG Y U SO SERIOUS, JEW JOKES HAVE BEEN DONE SINCE LIKE FOREVEEEERRRRRR, PUHLEEEEEASE, JUST HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR, SHADDUP. I KNOW A JEW WHO WASN'T OFFENDED, WHY SHOULD YOU BE?"

    And everyone knows Davis was black, so putting on make-up to impersonate him IS blackface, regardless of the shade.

    You might have listened to what I said, but you definitely did not process it.

    Because this:

    "Right now there are countries suffering far worse than anything any of us are experiencing here in America right now. Syria for example. Let us all be happy that we live in a country where we are allowed to express ourselves freely and are not ravaged by war and civilian genocide."

    Is basically telling POC to "get over it"! OMG THERE ARE OTHER PPL SUFFERING, YOU DONT HAVE IT THAT BAD, SO SUCK IT UP AND LAUGH ABOUT IT, OMG Y U SO UPSET OVER DIS, LYK RELAX!!

    So I quote agabond.wordpress.com when he says:

    "“Get over it” assumes that whites are better judges of racism against blacks than blacks themselves! Because blacks are oversensitive, because they are like children who have it too easy and complain about every little thing. And, like children, blacks do not know what is in their own best interest – but white people do, despite their terrible record on that one. Racism did not die on the day they freed the slaves. Racism did not die on the day they outlawed hanging a black man from a tree. Racism did not even die on the day a black man put his hand on the Bible and became president – in fact, it seems to have only made it worse since it was against the wishes of most white voters. Racism is dying, yes, but it still very much alive.
    When will blacks “get over it” and “move on”? When whites get over their racism and move on. They created it to excuse their crimes; they can also destroy it."

    You might have the serenity to accept whatever, and the courage to change whatever, but definitely not the wisdom, or you would change your viewpoints.

    And the fact that you dismissed everything that has been talked about by saying, "Right now in other countries there are people suffering far worse NOW", that whole OMG JUST LOOK AT THE BIC PICTURE, means you know you got a taste of your own damn medicine but don't want to admit it.

    BTW did I mention that I am a Hispanic male, I just turned 20 in December, and I'm only a sophomore in college? If I were you, I would ASHAMED that someone half your age already knows more about race than you do, and can write a better argument to boot. Please. I have definitely linked most of my POC friends to this blog and we are unanimous in that you are spewing ignorance and, just like every other white person we ever talk to, you are not listening to the POC.

  • In reply to Javier:

    By the way Javier, at the ripe old age of 20 you have yet to experience half of what I have in life regarding racism. You should not have stated your age as it only proves that you are an immature, opinionated child that thinks he knows much, much more than you do.

    Finish college, get a job, have a family and experience a little more of life before you criticize the thoughts and opinions of others. You will do yourself a great injustice if you continue through your life with the larger than life chip you have on your shoulder.

  • Great debate. Congratulations. This is a necessary exchange of viewpoints about sensitive subjects that people really care about in their own ways. This represents the true goodness in a blog called "When You Put It That Way". Keep shining the light on subjects that really matter like racism, abuse, addiction, entitlement, mental illness, sexual discrimination, family values and education. You may not be able to change the world by yourself, but together your bloggers collectively can...when you put it that way.

  • Do you know the word "microaggression?" Probably not. What Billy Crystal did is a called a microaggression. He wasn't wearing a white hood, he wasn't mimicking Al Jolson, sure, but wearing blackface is just as harmful. But let's back up a second! "Blackface" doesn't mean black makeup on someone's face, which is pretty obvious, but I suppose I'm literal enough to assume you enjoyed "The Help" but disapprove of Jet Magazine. Blackface is when a White person dresses up as a Person of Color, in this case a Black person, if you want to get technical about it. Redface, yellowface -- same idea. Now back to microaggressions. It's easy to see the racism in, let's say, a lynching, right? It's unquestionable! But a microaggression is just as harmful, and, in an era when White people pleasure themselves in the delusion that racism is over, is probably far more harmful. They happen one at a time, everyday, at every moment. They're in the language we use, the products we buy, the shows we watch, the books we read, and the movies nominated for Oscars. They're harmful because unlike a Klan demonstration, they can be hard to notice and easy to commit without realizing. Microaggressions build up over time until you get the gross civil disparity that continues to oppress People of Color.

    Billy Crystal is racist, and what he did is racist because it is dehumanizing. It objectifies and fetishizes Black people and creates a distinct separation because White people and People of Color. And of course you know -- separate is not equal.

    The fact that Billy Crystal happens to be a member of an oft marginalized group does not condone racism. The fact that he has done this "comedy" sketch before and received praise for it [from White people], does not condone racism. Knowing a Person of Color does not give you a free pass to condone racism. A Jewish person laughing at a "Jew joke" is not a free pass to condone racism.

    P.S. You forgot a couple apostrophes in there.

    P.P.S. Before you write about things that don't actually affect your daily life, as it does the Black people whose oppression by an inherently White supremacist you and Crystal perpetuate with microaggressions, try seeing it from their perspective. Pick up a book. Some Angela Davis maybe, Malcolm X. Watch "The Black Power Mixtapes." Or, here's a toughie: Google it.

    P.P.P.S. Shut up.

  • In reply to Stoke:

    Your rudeness is unwarranted. How do you know racism doesn't affect my daily life? And who are you to say that white people believe that racism is over? And how do you know I disapprove of Jet magazine? Should white people have gone into an uproar over the Wayan brothers movie "White Chicks" with their faces painted white and their blonde wigs?? No, because the intention was to simply be humorous.

    Yes, I loved "The Help". And you know why? Because treating people as sub human because of their race makes me sick.

    One of my most beloved speeches of all time is from Dr. Martin Luther King and his "I Have a Dream" speech. Because I, like him wish for a world where there is equality for all. You don't think Jews suffered and still don't suffer from oppression, slavery and religious degradation? Google it.

    And while you're PPPS' ing me to shut up, appreciate that you live in a free country where you have all the rights of every other citizen and there are laws that protect us from discrimination. There are plenty of other countries that do not have this luxury.

    It is my opinion, which according to the constitution I have a right to free speech, that Billy Crystal did not intend to offend. Whether you agree or not is your right as well. If we all agreed on everything the world would be a much more peaceful place. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening anytime soon.

  • To quote agabond once again:

    "White Americans are still racist when it comes to blacks. They are not as bad as the whites who gave us Jim Crow, the Klan, the Nazis or apartheid, but they are still racist. It is not just a matter of a few rednecks saying the n-word.

    Some examples:

    If you are black and looking for work and “sound white” over the telephone, then you might call up a place and hear that some positions are open. You get there an hour later and they tell you the positions have all been filled. In just one hour. Or they make you take a test and then do not hire you. But then some white person with less experience gets the position a week later – without taking any test at all! I am not making this stuff up.

    I once worked at a place where the whites had degrees mostly from no-name universities while the few blacks who worked there all had Ivy League educations.

    Blacks have to stay in school about two years longer to make the same money as a white person.

    About 90% of suburban whites live in a place that is less than 1% black. It is not because blacks cannot afford to live there: about 9% of the American middle-class is black. I am a part of that “missing” 8% so I know where it went and why:
    When I got married and wanted to move out of New York, I was shown a dozen or so houses in this one place that was south of some railroad tracks, but only one house to the north of those tracks: a small, strange-shaped house no one wanted. The people north of tracks were no richer than I was – but they were white. South of the tracks, where I was shown so many houses, was where the blacks lived. This is called racial steering.

    There was a drug war in the part of New York where I lived. Not because it was black and poor: in fact, it was largely black and middle-class. But the police had pushed the war there from other parts of the city. They made it crystal clear they did not care about the lives of black people, not even middle-class ones. So Katrina did not surprise me one bit.

    Why is it that when an unarmed man is shot or beaten dozens of times by the police (Sean Bell, Rodney King, Amadou Diallo, etc) he is black, never white?

    Why is it that in a country that is one-eighth black and is world-famous for its black entertainers, only one Oscar in 80 for Best Actress went to a black woman – Halle Berry?

    Why is it that in a country where a third of the missing women are black the ones you see on cable news are always white?
    And so on.

    Yes, blacks are racist too but they do not have the power in American society to do even half the things listed here. And their racism is directed more against themselves than against whites."

    If you want, I can also post links to sources that can verify this. You are wrong, just admit it.

  • In reply to Javier:

    Did I ever state in any of these comments that racism did not exist? That's what I find interesting through this entire stream of comments.

    Never once did I say that. It certainly does exist. If you look back at one of my earlier blogs I addressed the issue of "missing white women syndrome" and the unfairness of it. I agree with you 100% on that point. I also said that there was merit to some of your comments and thoughts.

    Yes racism absolutely exists in our country and all over the world. BUT I STILL DO NOT BELIEVE THAT Billy Crystal meant to offend. THAT'S IT. If he did? It's all perception on how every person that watched it chooses to feel. My mistake was assuming that anyone who was offended by it could ever see things differently.

    Case closed.

  • In reply to Teppi Jacobsen:

    "BUT I STILL DO NOT BELIEVE THAT Billy Crystal meant to offend. THAT'S IT. If he did? It's all perception on how every person that watched it chooses to feel. My mistake was assuming that anyone who was offended by it could ever see things differently."

    So basically your point is that everyone will see it differently? That's hardly any point at all. Obviously, people perceive things differently. I'm sure Billy Crystal didn't intend to offend anyone, and I'm sure he doesn't consider himself a racist. It doesn't change the fact that he committed a racist act. Blackface has a long history of racism, and you can't erase it just because you don't intend to use it that way. "White Chicks" isn't the same because there is no history of whiteface. Why is it so hard to just listen to the people being offended? And sure some black people maybe weren't offended though I have yet to meet one. It doesn't change anything. I don't really see how it's your place to say much of anything at all. I realize you brought up those Jewish comments from before, but this isn't even a good comparison. Jewish people have experienced discrimination and genocide, but the difference is that in our society today, you can't always tell who is Jewish and who isn't just by looking at someone. I realize anti-Semitism continues to this day and is prevalent even in the academic world, but it comes from how you assert your identity and your position among other issues relating to your community. Black people don't really have that privilege because skin color is there for everyone to see, without question. You can't hide your skin color. There is no choice. Billy Crystal was able to wash that color off. He doesn't have to live with discrimination on a daily basis resulting from hundreds of years worth of institutionalized racism because of his skin color. That's why it's racist. It has nothing to do with whether he meant for it to be racist or not, or whether he ever thinks in overtly racist terms. The fact that you and he don't seem to grasp that part of this whole thing, just shows that you're privileged enough to not have to consider it. And you know what? If you ever are offended by something, I'm sure you're quick to stand up for yourself too (and probably given more consideration than OTHER people would be). I don't see why you have to go and try and derail other people doing the same.

    This comment is probably just going to be brushed off too, or you'll have the answers because to me it doesn't really seem like you're open to discussion, and you're just trying to tell people why they're wrong. I just really don't see how you could argue intent means anything here. Next time someone makes a joke about how I must be so glad I was born here and didn't have to run across the border, I'll just laugh it off because really, they were just trying to be funny and didn't mean anything like the woman that called me a "Mexican bitch" for accidentally bumping into her.

  • In reply to natLA:

    Yes, that is my point. Never, at any point in ANY OF THIS STREAM of dialog did I dismiss people's feelings. Had I, I would simply not have responded. There is point when I say people feel differently. Find me someone who has the ability to coerce everyone to think alike and I'll present you a dictator or a cult leader.

    I never and still don't expect anyone to agree with my opinion. And I am entitled to not change my feelings based on others. I have listened very closely.

    One question though? If there had not been a history of blackface do you think that Billy Crystal's bit would have not received any backlash? This is simply a question that I'm curious about.

    And when you bring up people not knowing if we are Jewish do you have any idea how many synagogues are defaced? Burned? Right here in the US? Are you familiar with Neo Nazi groups that would still wipe us off the Earth if they could?

    What I never said and should have right off the bat is that in many ways, Jewish people and African Americans have more in common than is realized. Both groups have suffered atrocities that are unspeakable. There should not be any dialog of who suffered more. We are minorities.

    Ever see the movie Mississippi Burning? The three boys that were murdered by the KKK were Jewish and Black. I'm not minimizing the racial tensions that still exist within the black community today, it saddens me. Racism sucks.

    Your being called a "Mexican bitch" is as disgusting as the number of times I've been called a Kike or Dirty Jew. Plenty, believe me. Uncalled for and horrible.

    I'm not trying to derail people for their feelings. If you knew me as a person, you would see that I only wish to see the goodness in people and innocently wished for people to take things less seriously. I guess that isn't possible, and I can say to all of my commenters happiness that race will never be addressed again.

  • I am writing for two reasons:

    First - Teppi, you should not feel intimidated into becoming silent about any issue, "race" or otherwise, that you feel passionate about. May this blog continue to inspire healthy debate on a variety of topics and, hopefully, spur people to take action based on those discussions.

    Second - I have never posted comment #100 before, and I really wanted that honor :)

  • "Did I ever state in any of these comments that racism did not exist?"

    No but you told Stoke:

    "And who are you to say that white people believe that racism is over? ... Should white people have gone into an uproar over the Wayan brothers movie "White Chicks" with their faces painted white and their blonde wigs??"

    So I answered your question. And as for the White Chicks thing:

    Blackface and whiteface are incomparable. The reality is that unlike blackface and the other –faces, whiteface has never been used on a sweeping basis, period, and was certainly not ever designed as a practice to prevent an entire population of white people from having the ability to represent themselves on screen. The images perpetrated by blackface, yellowface, brownface, and redface have resulted in stereotypes that have been used to justify discrimination, hate crimes, lynchings, and cultural genocide. The same cannot be said for whiteface.

    And as for your stupid ad hominem:

    "By the way Javier, at the ripe old age of 20 you have yet to experience half of what I have in life regarding racism. You should not have stated your age as it only proves that you are an immature, opinionated child that thinks he knows much, much more than you do."

    I may be a third of your age, but even I understand that you ARE NOT A RACE. I've said and explained that multiple times already, and somehow, you with aaaaaaallllll that life experience STILL doesn't get it. You are not even a POC. You are WHITE. Hence you have never experienced RACISM, only discrimination. You may "have listened" to what I said, but you sure didn't process it. Now, I as a POC and an Amerindian, I have experienced RACISM. More than you ever have or ever will.

    I've met a white supremacist who told me my only redeemable quality was the Spanish blood in me and that my native country was a third-world-piece-of-shit because white people weren't running it. I worked as a door to door salesman for two months, only to have the white people treat me with disdain, rudely dismiss me, treat me like I was inferior, would not let me step inside their house, and once I even had someone tell me to leave the bus stop in front of his house because I looked suspicious, while the two white kids next to me sneered. Another told me to "get the fuck off my porch and go back to Mexico". I'm Salvadoran. The POC NEVER did that. Or how at summer camp, the majority of the white kids I met refused to hang out with me, so us children of color stuck together. And we were watched more closely as well, and given worse punishments. When a white boy physically fought with a black girl, she was the one who got shipped home even though he instigated it. The way my white teachers and friends looked at my parents when they spoke their heavily accented English. The subtle changes in expression when I tell white people I was born in Latin America, cause they all think I'm illegal, which I am not. The rudeness and suspicion older white people treat me and other POC. How my black friends were teased for their skin and their hair, and then told "I was just kidding!" And the list goes on and on.

    I have experienced racism, and seen countless of acts performed onto others, so I know exactly what I am talking about, and this is not a "chip on my shoulder", this is a burden that me and every other POC wears for life, and yes, it infuriates us when white people like you don't listen to us, or dismiss us. And I find it ironic that you dismiss me because you think I am "immature and opinionated" cause I called you out on your ignorant and racist bull, yet other commenters agreed with me. So for you to dismiss me by saying that, this:

    "Right now in other countries there are people suffering far worse NOW."

    and this"

    "I have discussed this issue with my fellow AA bloggers. One pointed out that the bit was not in "true" blackface. He was made up with brown make up, which you please note Evan Moore's comment above (he is AA) did not upset him as it was not in true blackface."

    just goes to show that your life experience has not wrought much. The first sentence screams OMG GET OVER IT, LIKE SYRIA HAS IT WORSE, WHY SHOULD YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS HERE, WHEN SOMEONE SOMEWHERE HAS IT MORE FUCKED UP, CAN'T YOU JUST SHUT UP AND TAKE IT, CUZ I DONT WANNA LISTEN.

    And the second sentence screams: BUT LYKE MY BLACK FRIENDS SAID IT WAS OK, SO IT MUST BE OK FOR EVERYONE, YOU TOO, SO SHUTUP, LIKE DON'T TELL ME IM WRONG, CUZ IM NOT, LIKE OMG.

    If that is the game you want to play, I put this link up on reddit, and this is what I got back as a comment:

    "Stryc9 1 point 1 day ago

    As a white person, and I speak for all white people here, I think she is a racist and a terrible writer. Literally her argument seems to be a) I wasn't offended b) Lighten up, it was just a joke (you know, like on Top Gear). She presents no real arguments about anything and makes me think she has never read any further on the subject than just hearing that some people were offended. If she can't be bothered to hear out why some PoC found that bit offensive, I don't see why we should be wasting our time reading her drivel."

    See, I was right, my fellow white redditor says so!!!!!! She was mad at you and spoke on behalf of all white people!!! Hence now you have to admit you're wrong, cause all of your people said so!!! :D Oh happy days!!!

    You may have the serenity
    to accept the things you cannot change;
    the courage to change the things you can;
    but not the wisdom to know the difference.

    Or else you would never have written this in the first place.

  • In reply to Javier:

    Javier, FYI, I have experienced terrible discrimination from some African American POC against me, a person who is also a POC but not African American. Fortunately, I have also met some amazing African Americans who have greatly enriched my life. One person treating you poorly does not blight the entire community. Your own earlier comment suggesting I give up my African American child because I am not African American shows how narrow minded and discriminating you also are.

    Please also don't be so fixated on winning by shutting others up out of frustration, as opposed to working (by action, not empty words) towards a real change in attitudes towards racism - in forums where such change is in fact needed.

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