Tuesday, April 15, 2008

White People Be All Like Dis

Comedians have gotten a lot of mileage out of the whole white people do things this way, black people do things this way bit, and for the most part it ever gets old because we all believe it ton be true. I am a personal believer that perception equals reality, and what it is that we see and feel to be true about each other is only as true as we believe it to be. So stereotypes are only as true as they are believed to be, and as true as they are reinforced by their respective members.

I say all that to say black people and white people do things differently than Black people. Especially German people. Germans seem to be the Whitest of White people, the most ethnically Caucasian of the Europeans, the fount from which all honkiness flows. I thought it was just a coincidence that the person I knew who was most devoid of any brown sensibility was German, but then… then came Dirk Nowitzki. One person is a coincidence, two is a trend.

In basketball there is a practice called “popping your jersey”. It’s a simple little taunt done after making an especially important shot where the player takes the edges of his jersey across his chest, usually the part that has his team name or his teams home town on it, and “pops” it out from his chest. Easy right? Well, it is for the 90% African American NBA. but poor German Dirk couldn’t get it quite right. In his first game back after a major injury, he made a game winning shot with 9 seconds left to go. The opposing team (the Utah Jazz) took a time out and the arena exploded as the Dallas Mavericks were home for this game. Dirk had put his team ahead with a three pointer in transition, and to celebrate, he attempted to pop his jersey. Instead of doing what I described above however, he pulled the bottom of his jersey out of his shorts and yanked it down, as if he were trying to stretch out a too-short shirt. It was almost an “awww” moment because you knew what he was trying to do, but in his zeal and his German-ness, he got it completely wrong. He looked like an old woman having a hot flash trying to cool herself off.

It was then that I realized that no matter what, our actions were destined to provide fodder for race comedians for generations to come. As long as group A does what appears to be action B, and Group C does what appears to be action D, then stereotypes will continue to flourish. Does that them true, or does it just make the perception of said stereotypes true? I think the answer is the latter. We can fight it, try not to reinforce our stereotypes, but the fact of the matter is, everyone will subconsciously act the way they are “supposed” to act at least once in their lifetime, and chances are that one time will be in front of 1 million people of other races who will look at you and say “see, they’re all the same”. Just like I looked at Dirk and said “man, he is really, really white.” But there is nothing wrong with that. The problems come from ignorance and hatred of our differences, not from the differences themselves. Finding humor in our differences is not such a bad thing, it is better than, say, lynching each other for them, or say, doing things like not dating Black Guys because you are not Black. That is the wrong way to approach differences.

So yeah, the White/Black/Asian/Spanish people do things differently plot line maybe overplayed in comedy, but it’s still funny. And let us hope it stays funny, so that it does not become something darker and altogether more sinister.


ParticularlyEvil said...

"Finding humor in our differences is not such a bad thing, it is better than, say, lynching each other for them"

Dr. King couldn't have said it better himself.

...despite being rather well-spoken in his own little way.

Rick said...

Methinks I know what German you're talking about... and I'm not sure how to feel about this.

Michael Kaiser said...

And here I thought *I* was the whitest german you knew...