Racial joke at work! What do I do???

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MADDuck
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08 Oct 2010, 9:32 pm

Oh boy.....

While sitting through a training class, the trainer said that we had a few minutes to kill before leaving and asked if anyone knew any jokes. The room was silent and then he told a joke that the punchline was two Klansmen ride away on horses after a lynching saying that they didn't know why he (the white guy) wanted to be hung like a 'black man',

Now that bothered me.

Word finally reached management and I was questioned. The trainer is a nice guy and he is very helpful at work, but he may loose his job for this.

Any suggestions? What should I do?


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08 Oct 2010, 9:56 pm

It's a word misunderstanding-based joke about racists. Not sure I'd call that a racist joke. A joke doesn't have to be racist (or told by a racist) to involve racism or stereotypes.
Sounds to me like the premise of the joke is:
1. Klansmen are racists, many of whom want black people hanged (this is a simple fact about the KKK).
2. There is a stereotype about black men generally having larger genitals than white men (whether true or not, this is an actual stereotype, wide spread enough to motivate a fictional character within the narrative of a joke to assume it is true).
3. Being hanged and having a large penis can both be referred to as "being hung", so the non-klansman and the klansman are very likely to have different concepts of what "hung like a black man" means. In that word misunderstanding lies the intended humor of the joke. Not in mocking black people.

Was it racist? Not necessarily. Was it appropriate for the context in which it was told? Probably not.


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t0
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08 Oct 2010, 10:26 pm

MADDuck wrote:
Any suggestions? What should I do?


Tell the truth. If word has already reached management, it is unlikely your responses will affect the outcome.



nostromo
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09 Oct 2010, 12:53 am

That is not really a racist joke; a racist joke has negative connotations about a race in some way, whereas that just plays on a non-negative stereotype. So don't do anything would be my advice.



MADDuck
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09 Oct 2010, 1:11 pm

nostromo wrote:
That is not really a racist joke; a racist joke has negative connotations about a race in some way, whereas that just plays on a non-negative stereotype. So don't do anything would be my advice.


good point, but myself being white (of European-American decent) like the protagonist of the joke, i just don't feel as if I am the target demographic for this joke.

And it irritated me.


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pineapple
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10 Oct 2010, 1:03 am

I dunno, whether or not it was "racist", I still think it was totally inappropriate. I would have been bothered by it, too. If you've already been questioned about it, then I'm not sure there's much else you can really do. It looks like HR is probably investigating.



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10 Oct 2010, 4:34 am

A joke is a joke, it's not like he was going up to a black person and shouting the N word in his face :roll:



menintights
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10 Oct 2010, 1:05 pm

MADDuck wrote:
Oh boy.....

While sitting through a training class, the trainer said that we had a few minutes to kill before leaving and asked if anyone knew any jokes. The room was silent and then he told a joke that the punchline was two Klansmen ride away on horses after a lynching saying that they didn't know why he (the white guy) wanted to be hung like a 'black man',

Now that bothered me.

Word finally reached management and I was questioned. The trainer is a nice guy and he is very helpful at work, but he may loose his job for this.

Any suggestions? What should I do?


That's not even a racial joke, that's a racist joke.

I don't even know why some of you are trying to downplay it. If the punchline ran along the line about a man wanting to be treated like a woman everyone would know that it was sexist and not just a play on differences between the two sexes. Then again, I'm not white. So obviously I'm just being overly sensitive to this sort of thing and I have purely self-seeking interest when I speak up against subtle racism.

You don't have to do anything, but if I were you I wouldn't in good conscience be able to work with/for this person.



Vince
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10 Oct 2010, 1:45 pm

menintights wrote:
I don't even know why some of you are trying to downplay it. If the punchline ran along the line about a man wanting to be treated like a woman everyone would know that it was sexist and not just a play on differences between the two sexes.

But that wasn't the punchline. The punchline was the misunderstanding of the intended meaning of the word "hung", between two characters, both of whom inhabited some form of racism as a character trait. The punchline of the joke isn't that black and white people are different. The punchline is that the word "hung" means something different to a Klansman than to someone with penis size on their mind. Whether there's an actual difference in penis size between white and black men is entirely irrelevant to the joke, since the premise is that the characters are racists. If anything, the klansman is the one being made fun of.
It's not a racist joke, it's a joke about racism. There's a difference. To say that any joke involving racist characters is a racist joke, is like saying that any joke involving homophobic characters is a homophobic joke. A joke involving racist characters can very well simply be a mockery of racism. I would posit that this is more or less the case with this particular joke. Racism is the premise of the joke, not the punchline. The punchline is that the klansman misunderstands the meaning of the word "hung". It's very serious subject matter, but the joke is clearly not in support of its characters.


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Yami_Kilmore
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10 Oct 2010, 11:17 pm

I agree with everyone so far its not really racist but I would say its a bit inappropriate for the workplace, at a party sure but jokes at work should be kept a little cleaner.

So I say tell them the truth that he made the joke but he wasn't implying anything racist.


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22 Oct 2010, 3:32 pm

well the dust has settled, and all is well at work.

there is just one lingering question though....

What about perpetuating the white stereotypes of wanting other peoples stuff, like the endowment of a black man?

I am white and confident.


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22 Oct 2010, 4:07 pm

Men are rarely completely happy with what they've got, both in their pants and out of it. I am white and I might believe they've got maybe an inch on us or something but nothing significant. Seeing as I'm larger than average I'd not afraid of being too small next to a black guy, I am however a little less comfortable knowing that someone is 9-10 inches. Even if girls I know complain that they are too big. For a time though I was with a girl that thought I was too big, that SUCKED :(


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23 Oct 2010, 12:19 am

menintights wrote:
MADDuck wrote:
Oh boy.....

While sitting through a training class, the trainer said that we had a few minutes to kill before leaving and asked if anyone knew any jokes. The room was silent and then he told a joke that the punchline was two Klansmen ride away on horses after a lynching saying that they didn't know why he (the white guy) wanted to be hung like a 'black man',

Now that bothered me.

Word finally reached management and I was questioned. The trainer is a nice guy and he is very helpful at work, but he may loose his job for this.

Any suggestions? What should I do?


That's not even a racial joke, that's a racist joke.

I don't even know why some of you are trying to downplay it. If the punchline ran along the line about a man wanting to be treated like a woman everyone would know that it was sexist and not just a play on differences between the two sexes. Then again, I'm not white. So obviously I'm just being overly sensitive to this sort of thing and I have purely self-seeking interest when I speak up against subtle racism.

You don't have to do anything, but if I were you I wouldn't in good conscience be able to work with/for this person.


Oh for god's sake. :roll:

This is a perfect example of what happens when people make judgements without the use of rational thought.

There was nothing racist about that joke whatsoever. It is a joke that even black people could tell.



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23 Oct 2010, 1:02 pm

I am easily offended by any sort of racist comments and while I have zero tolerance for any kind of discrimination, intimidation or slurs, I don't find the joke in this particular case to be offensive. Even if it is based on a stereotype, the premise of the joke was the taking of a stereotypical comment literally... if the joke had used less politically correct terms such as the "N" word, I would have been extremely offended.. and I could be accused of a double standard here but that's my opinion in this case..


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25 Oct 2010, 11:55 am

Yami_Kilmore wrote:
I agree with everyone so far its not really racist but I would say its a bit inappropriate for the workplace, at a party sure but jokes at work should be kept a little cleaner. . .

Yeah, jokes about penis size are not really entirely appropriate for the workplace. And jokes about someone getting killed, not exactly so cool either. This is kind of a textbook example of what not to do!