White Folks and Black Jokes

About ten years ago the legends of Italian carbohydrates, Fatti’s and Moni’s, received the seething wrath of the conservative South African public. “You don’t have to keep an Italian to cook Italian” was a commercial fraught with controversy; as an elderly petit woman was placed inside a cupboard for a later stage; when the hankering for authentic meatballs took flight. It was hilarious, and everyone laughed, yet the carrot in the arse of a few anti-liberal “PG-13 is for Lucipher” types saw that the ad was taken off air. But why? I can just imagine the prudish zealots sitting on the couch, insisting on being so conservative they make Stalin look like a lipstick-wearing dolphin-rights-activist in a recyclable one piece, picking up the phone, and crying bigotry. But that’s what our post-Apartheid nation is all about: being as offended as possible by anyone slightly different than you, who creates humour over a supposed stereotype. If the creatives were tiny 70 year old Italian chicks, does it then make it ok? Why can’t we just laugh at the concept without reading deeper into the meaning? And now we have a modern example: Florence and the Machine. On Monday our Facebook page was frenzied over a pic we posted. Were we wrong? And does laughter trump social cohesion?

Understandably our country is still raw after years of separatist misrule. Im not going to dress as a Zulu princess and mumble my way through a mispronounced version of a Mandoza hit during a sheep sacrifice in the Transkei. Because I would get shot. And rightfully so. That’s disrespectful as it mocks one’s inherent culture and uniqueness. But there is a large difference between ridicule and just enjoying our various personalities in a variety of forms. The picture of Florence features a comically blank face, next to the tool of her trade; the washing machine. By saying that you are offended are you then demeaning the profession of domestic work that employs millions of South Africans to feed their families? Is this not a dignified profession? It’s fair and well to create a picture of a prostitute next to an armoured tank with the caption “Ho-Style work environment”, but god forbid we trample on the hallowed work of housekeeping.

But the real crux, the nuts and bolts, the true swollen testicle of the situation is that it is made by a white man, and white people can’t joke about anything to do with the black populace. As soon as any black stereotype is seen through a white man’s glasses it is racist. Who are we to poke fun at years of trauma? But does it really make a difference? I created my own picture (see below) playing on the shame of the white man: Beer drinking classless racist rednecks in their natural habitat: a bakkie Jacuzzi. Hands up offended white people? Its just a picture, a bit of fun, there’s no burning cross or KKK hooded delusionists screaming for white power.  Even if it was made by a black man, nobody would give a shit. Stop reading so deep into it and take it at face value. Do you look at a photo of a model and over analyse it? If you sat there thinking “she’s so skinny because her daddy never truly loved her and thus focuses so much on beauty in the never ending pursuit of perfection solely to impress her long lost father” – then you are taking all the joy out of life. You can always find negatives in an image. Sometimes it’s ok to just fucking smile and move on.

Imagine if everyone in this country stopped being so offended by every slight nuance that has to do with race. Such a large portion of conflict would disappear. Sometimes socially insecure people should honestly just take a few ecstasies. Everyone would hug, laugh, joke and chuckle all to the blissful sounds of the melodic Florence and the Machine. We would see the picture, smile at its double entendre and continue to enjoy each other’s warm multi-cultural embrace, while giving jobs to local Vicks and white glove manufacturers. It would remove the social insecurities that breed distain for humorous pics like these. Stop being so socially insecure and just enjoy life. But don’t insult Allah, that oke is like way beyond reproach, even if there is a pic of him with 60 virgins riding a magical carpet.


*Follow @Stroobz on twitter as he makes inappropriate jokes about Vietnamese sex shop workers and tie dyes a kitten.

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  1. WTF is the fuzz all about? ohh shit the towels went in with the Tshirts. Eish sorry boss lucky no Flops BOSS. We need to have A good laugh at ourselves. Take the chip off your shoulder and dip it in a juicy bowl of REALITY and you will realize my fore fathers and your fore fathers ALL MADE MISTAKES AND ALL HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH RACISM.

  2. Well said Stroobz…
    Its like u say, if someone made a joke of a IT man next to his computer or a businessman next to his Merc – would ppl be offended?
    Its lame, some people need to grow a sense of humour, fake one, drink one, watever.

  3. I think our african brothers make jokes of us umlungu’s all the time. They just don’t do it publicly (or in english at least). If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

  4. THIS. This is exactly what i thought when i saw that picture on Facebook, only i couldn’t be bothered to write it because frankly, I just don’t care about racism. (Before you necklace me, I mean that it gets enough attention anyway, and personally I feel that it is such a tired topic, that we make it a retired topic, move on with our lives and try to get along.) Anyhow, thanks for the post – hopefully peeps will chill out a bit now!

  5. The only way this country will move forward is when everyone quit’s being so sensitive about people calling them names.In years to come people will have to find another way to communicate for the fear of saying the wrong thing.

    I get called a umlungu or white devil but you don’t see me running to the the media and making a fuss.

  6. I agree! People must seriously stop being such little p*ssy’s and learn to take a joke. This one time at school we played a friendly football match where the colour ‘bibs’ appointed for each team were black and white. It was ironic because the whole team wearing the black bibs were in fact African gentlemen and the guys wearing white bibs were all white pricks (myself included). When I happened to point this out at half time by saying , ” White team this side, black team over there.” There was uproar! I was labelled a racist and all the black dudes in St Andrews didn’t speak to me for months!…That, Until I performed an amazing rendition of Othello in St Andrews’ version of William Shakespeare’s masterpiece with the same name. They digged me after that…

  7. All those saying people must learn to take a joke or get a sense of humor…

    I fully understand the joke but I don’t find it funny. The joke that hearing the name Florence makes you think of a maid is just sad. Most maids in this country have an African name. Try to learn it and stop calling them by their slave names.

    1. Got to be honest I know 2 white chicks called Florence, yet I have never met a black lady by that name. Infact if it wasnt for the obvious assertion based on the picture I would have just presumed it was some good old fashion sexism. And we see sexist jokes on the net all day that dont seem to warrant or elicit the same overboard response as was seen here.

      And really if youre now going to get into the debate of African names vs western names then i challenge you to find a domestic worker that introduces herself to you by her African name. Please dont even try refer to a Western name as a slave name either; the chip on that shoulder must be a serious burden. You are the exact person that should learn to take a joke and stop trying to find some piece of offense where there isnt any.

  8. The feeling white people get when there initial reaction is to laugh at a picture like that and then suddenly have second thoughts is called “white guilt”. So many people have it. I like to make fun of my suburban white girl issues by calling them “white people’s problems”. Like when you get to gym and the class is full. Or when you can’t find parking at cavendish. I find it really funny but there are always those fools that frown and berate me for my joke. Of all the groups to poke fun at, surely your own is the most appropriate?

    1. And by “there” I mean “their”. Spelling and grammar mistakes. Not just a white persons problem.

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