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Monday, 1 April 2013

I'm not a racist, but...

I got my husband a racist shirt and didn't even know it. Let me explain. I'm intolerant of racist comments. I visibly bristle so needless to say I am shocked at my own ill thought out actions.

A little background.  We love, love, love Dave Chappelle. While hunting for something online, I came across this shirt and thought it would be perfect for my partner for Christmas.





I got it, it's well made, and it's funny. An homage to this bit he did (you will need to google 'what is juice dave chappelle' to see it, as utube is not letting me link it)

Anyway, long story short, we went out the other night, and the bouncer sees the shirt and said "I don't know if I should let you in in that racist shirt". My partner said, "It's not racist, I'll explain it later". To which the bouncer replied "It's from the Chapelle show? I think it's racist". And it hit me. He was absolutely right. Like the N word, it's okay if Dave Chapelle says it, not ok if I say it. And the shirt is the same. In the Chapelle skit, it doesn't seem racist because he's saying it. But it is a bundle of insults to the black community (implying poverty, ignorance, bad nutrition - whatever). I'd just not made the connection. I thought I was showing how much we like Chapelle (and we do miss you, if by some chance you read this) and alluding to his humour.

So racism in this case, really did stem from ignorance. As the only people who got the joke on the shirt were white & Australian, no harm was done. But I am now in a quandry as to what to do with the shirt. It's a great shirt, but maybe for just around the house...All I can say is thank God there wasn't a shirt from his "I know Black People" sketch.

I'm not a racist, but...apparently I am.

PS My husband still thinks it's not racist, as he grew up in a large family and they had Orange drink, not juice, so he says it's about being poor, not being black, thus is still wearing it. I on the other hand, am wondering what is wrong with me that I have recently purchased both this shirt and the shirt that gets you thrown off a plane for being a terrorist (or making people uncomfortable that you're a terrorist). Remember I also got this shirt? Apparently, in my subconscious, I'm just looking for trouble....


43 comments:

  1. Wow, what a lot of angst over a few words. Is your husband going to continue to wear it based on his belief?
    Becc @ Take Charge Now

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    1. He is adamant it isn't racist. I'm with the pOlitically correct bouncer that it is. I don't think it would offend here but I Definitely wouldn't let him wear it in the States....

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  2. My fashion dilemma is usually "am I looking too OTT?" This one actually is a dilemma. I guess the yardstick is that if it is racist to someone else then it is racist, even it if is not to you? Would make a great PJ top :)

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  3. Yes, totally with you there. My partner also argues if Chapelle is happy to sell the shirt then it's ok. I'm more of the other camp, just cos you're given a hall pass, doesn't mean you use it (kanye had to change a lyric when the audience was singing the song to him and all stopped at the N word - he even said "I told you to sing it...but ok, sing this instead" and we all gladly started over with new made up words...

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  4. Well, I have heard of Dave Chapelle, but don't know any of his skits. Just watched this one and didn't think it was all that funny. Chris Rock....now he's funny! But I'd probably be considered racist for wearing one of his shirts, too!

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    1. I love Chris Rock. Have you seen Never Scared? He's hilarious!!! The bit on marriage...Ha! As for Dave Chappelle, he's soooooo funny. That skit isn't one of his best, but it was the only one that was a shirt. But he got complaints from white people that he was racist (towards black people) so you get that he's quite out there....(really, I didn't think about it at all, clearly!)

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  5. I see where your partner is coming from - about being poor rather than black... but I haven't seen the skit, so with more context, I might agree with you...

    I do think it is a fine line we walk in a lot of areas - we can make jokes about ourselves, or our own 'group', but not others.

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  6. Yes, I hear you. My problem with those jokes and words, is that it seems to make it alright when it isn't. And then some dumb schmuck buys a t-shirt and doesn't know she's insulting people...

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  7. That's really interesting. But yeah, I guess there's a big, HUGE difference when the joke comes from us. I get the same way about Asian jokes. I can dizz on my own people, but there's no way in hell you can! Funny world we live in...

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    1. Don't start me on the Asian jokes, cos there's no way Italians & French would be dumped in the same joke as interchangable Europeans...I watched this Korean movie the other night and they kept making this joke about Chinese which clearly didn't translate into English (and I didn't get but all I could think was that it was like our Aust vs NZ rivalry)....Now that's interesting, about whether race jokes translate race...?

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  8. You're right. It's about the context, and who 'owns' the joke, and if it's offensive to some it probably shouldn't be worn - but I also think your partner has a point when he's says it's not necessarily a racist joke, but a poverty joke, and if he's willing to 'own' it/defend it then it's probably okay for him to wear it. I saw a great t-shirt the other day, with an arror pointing up to the (big, mullet-haired owner), saying 'respect the mullet', and as mullets go, he had a point. Respect indeed :)

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    1. Need to ponder this 'owning', cos doesn't it then make some people think it's ok? Because they like the person who owns it?
      As for the mullet, I love that he has a signature shirt...

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  9. When the Big Sister was born, I bought my husband a shirt that says
    "Guns don't kill people.
    Men with pretty daughters do."

    It was funny at the time, but I'm not sure I'd like him to wear it out now. I understand your reticence Lydia.

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    1. I think that's really funny, and actually would buy that shirt so obviously you should burn it and never wear it again.

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  10. I kind of had a giggle about this. Whilst I can understand you feel bad, it is rather funny that you accidentally did that.
    I bought Boatman a shirt for Christmas that read "I'm on a boat,' because I thought it fitting for him. Turns out it's the line from a song that is full of sexual context and profanity. Oops!

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    1. What's the song?? In French I used to say stuff that was all really sexual or rude (to waiters) and my friends never corrected me, and it wasn't until a french lesson when the teacher was all "Never say that, it means blah, blah" and when I rang my friend and asked why they never said anything, they replied "We knew what you meant" (did explain why waiters loved me and my terrible french attempts)

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  11. It is much like this shirt I have seen at the local smoke mart, it has "I beat anorexia" on the front of it. It is only available in XXL. Some could easily be offended at the insensitivity of it, while others may think it is hilarious. Such a fine line some times

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    1. Indeed, fine lines. And I guess the line is confusing...for me.

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  12. I would never have known but once I realised it could offend I'd probably only wear it around the house ...

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  13. Tricky situation! I think you are right - an around the house shirt only - and definitely not the states! BTW - love the Princess Bride t shirt :)

    Hello from #teamIBOT

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    1. I love the Princess Bride shirt but not for flying...at least it happened to someone else not me...

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  14. I have never seen Dave Chappelle. I will have to google! Hope you sort out your t-shirt crisis. x

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  15. If you do, The Racial Draft and the Blind Klans man (forgot the actual name) are hilarious but slightly edgy...and "I know Black People".
    And maybe I'll just start wearing dresses.
    Though in Sicily people spat at me because I wore modest sun dresses but they showed my shoulders. I learn my lesson and got sleeved dresses for Malaysia, though that proved completely unnecessary. Go figure!

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  16. It does need to be said, of course, if he wore a sexist shirt, especially one that put down women, no one would have said anything.

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  17. I have to be honest ... I have no idea what you're talking about. The shirt is a bunch of words to me.
    It is quite clear that week by week the rock I live under is definitely making me ignorant ...
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

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    1. It is just a bunch of words, yes....but words can be dangerous in the hands of the stupid ;)
      I'm under a rock most of the time. But it's my rock and I like it.

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  18. Oh, I must come out from under my rock one day ... who is this Dave Chappelle????? It's Tshirt but at the end of the day also a statement, I guess - certainly a hard one, but if I'm putting my captain sensible hat on tells me that if it's taken as being offensive, then it is. Ok ... off to google xx

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  19. I'm with you, on playing to the lowest denominator. Want to clarify the bouncer thought it was funny but was pointing out that it could be deemed as racist, thus open for speculation...

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  20. I know this one and those who mentioned context are right. Funny to some, not to others.
    Chapelle is one funny bugger!

    Do you drink grape juice? Or grape drink? ;o)

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    1. I just love that he started getting White people tell him he's racist...very clever tho. And back on comedy circuit. Woohoo~!

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  21. Even though it was not meant to offend it's one of those occasions where you might have to put it away just to make sure. Being PC can really suck sometimes... Kirsty @ My Home Truths

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    1. I'm with you. But as it's my partners shirt, it's not my call. Might have to lose it in the wash.
      Interesting thought tho - I mentioned on a mother site that I didn't breast feed in this Pakistani restaurant near us because I thought they'd find it offensive (my call, not theirs) and this comment was met with a barrage of "In this country..." and "they have to be Australian if they want to..." blah, blah. So in shirts we go with the lowest bar of offense, in breast feeding we do our own thing....but that's the line for another post...lots of good issues to think about...

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  22. I've never heard of this guy either but I have got in trouble for a slogan t-shirt I wore when in rehab years ago. On the front it simply says "SOMETHING IS MISSING". I was in the grips of a serious breakdown and thought it was really appropriate for my state of mind. I got pulled up in the hospital when I wore it with a cardigan over it because the cardi hid some of the letters on either side of the word SOMETHING. The slogan was then turned to "METH IS MISSING". Apparently that could have been very triggering for some patients so I wasn't allowed to wear it any more. V.

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  23. That is hilarious - and that wasn't even an incorrect slogan!!!!

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  24. I am months behind on commenting on this post, I know. I read it back when you first published it, and think about it often. Honestly, when I first saw the shirt, I thought about the Dave Chappelle routine and laughed to myself. But then I thought about how I'd feel if I saw a white person wearing it, and to be totally honest, I probably would be uncomfortable. For me, my judgment as to whether something is racist or culturally insensitive is how it makes me feel. I may be able to reason it out and say that the offense wasn't intended, but if I FEEL offended, there's not a whole lot I can do about that. It's weird. When I'm hearing someone tell jokes about race, I'm not really exercising any criteria on a conscious level. It really comes down to whether or not I laugh - which is an involuntary reaction - or feel sick. I wait to see how I react to it, and based on my reaction, I decide whether it's offensive.

    I don't know that it's a full-proof system, but it's the best I got so far. I don't know if there's a universal standard for inoffensiveness that everyone can agree to. I'm sure that there are probably jokes out there that I might laugh at that other people might find racist, sexist, homophobic, what-have-you.

    The thing is, I didn't know any of this about myself until I read this post and really thought about it. I appreciate you putting yourself out there.

    I should get that shirt...

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    1. Thanks for such thoughtful comments. It's a fine line. If it's offensive to one person, then it's probably wrong.

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  25. Ha ha I just went and looked at your other dodgy shirt, I can see how it would offend, don't agree it should be can see why airlines would be precious. I am embarrassed to say I don't know much of Dave Chappelle - but then again, I haven't really been out since 2007!!

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  26. I've never heard of Dave Chappelle so I wouldn't have got it. I'm not really a fan of slogan type t-shirts in general, no idea why.

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  27. You know I want that Inigo Montoya shirt. He's my hero. You're seeing Dave Schapelle? For reals? WHERE? Kinda jealous. Perhaps leave the shirt at home though...

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  28. My favourite story of inappropriate clothing involves a workmate who went to New Zealand for a holiday. Unbeknownst to him, his cap was for a company that had helped beat New Zealand in the America's Cup. The cap upset his New Zealand friends so much that he decided to wear it all the time!

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  29. Thank heavens I am not the only one who has no idea what that is all about, maybe it isn't just my age. I don't envy your dilemma and it is obviously too early to turn it in to a dusting cloth.

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  30. Fascinating look at these things - I can see your husband's point of view if he relates to it from personal experience. But then also if people know it for another reason, then you don't want to offend people. Was the shirt from an official store? That might be one of my deciding factors in wearing or not wearing it.

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