January 11, 2010

Insensitivity Training

By now I’m sure most of you have read about the comments Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made about President Obama during the ‘08 campaign. Republican uproar, of course, soon followed. I don’t really care to delve into the partisan bickering about Reid, the comments Trent Lott made in 2002, or about the suspicious timing of the controversy (right before health care reform is nearly completed). Instead I think a dialog should be opened about how to deal with racially insensitive remarks.

I think there is a huge divide in this country over race. I think the divide can be delineated by separating the country into two different groups: those that enjoyed the humor of Chappelle’s Show; and those that didn’t. The groundbreaking show, in my opinion, was the first popular television show that could take issues of race and make them look completely ridiculous. Some people got it and some didn’t. Generally, I think people comfortable with issues of race can easily make racist jokes to people of all races. This is a skill I’ve developed and finely tuned over my years of growing up in Chicago with racially diverse groups of friends. In a way, racism can ease the tension and bring people together. Now I’m not suggesting that you go up to the next white person you see and ask them to pass the crackers or ask the next black person you see where to get a good piece of fried chicken. You need a bit of a rapport first, but eventually you will have to get past the racial awkwardness that sometimes arises and I find humor to the best way of broaching the subject.

So how do we determine whether someone should be reprimanded for making a racist comment? I believe that they should be forced to watch the video below with the defensive line of the Cincinnati Bengals. If they can watch this video, laugh and not develop a nervous sweat then they should be given a pass. If not, its off to sensitivity training.

Warning: Video contains offensive content and racial slurs. Don’t watch at work.
Clayton Bigsby - Funny video clips are a click away

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