Yikes… So she’s unintentionally racist… okay…
OK, time for me to be the black sheep…
uh, I mean, let me put on my black hat…
um, let me play devil’s advocate and ask what exactly is offensive or racist about what Joyce said? Yes, she pointed the difference in race. Obviously she never met someone who wasn’t caucasian before now, and thus a novelty. She also said it was really neat. Do I blame Sarah for reacting how she is? No. But I don’t think Joyce crossed a line here.
It’s condescending and figuratively reduces Sarah from being an individual to just a member of group. Maybe not racist per se, but certainly a demeaning thing to say.
I agree, the thought process she shows here is definitely less offensive than a lot that come out of backgrounds with limited exposure to minorities. I mean, even if you’ve been raised to be the most accepting person in the world, it takes time to just get used to seeing people who are physically different from you. But people who are really dedicated to being accepting of those differences get their brain-to-mouth filters installed properly. It’s one thing to notice that you’re around black people for the first time. It’s another to be all “OH HEY I AM SURROUNDED BY BLACK PEOPLE.” Especially when you’re talking on the phone to someone about your roommate who is totally sitting there in the room with you.
Honestly I never got that? I have never met someone who had never known a redhead before who said, “It’s like a novelty”
What she said is demeaning and reducing Sarah to a group. Skin color is one aspect and has nothing to do with who a person is. People put too much stock in skin color and then get pissed when there are those of us who no more notice it as being a big thing than the fact someone has green eyes.
Of course, by identifying as African American, Sarah’s in a group. Just like Irish American, or Asian, or homosexual. It’s not the same as someone having green eyes, which is why there are laws protecting the rights of the former and not the latter. Society has already put them in that group; ignoring that fact when criticizing someone’s individual reaction to it is narrow-minded.
And yes, for somebody who’s grown up in a singular racial community, it does feel strange. I grew up in a WASP community. On a trip through the South years ago, I stayed in Sumter, SC, but got lost and wound up driving around the city for an hour. I then realized that I was the only white person there–this largely middle-class city was populated by Africian Americans. And people were staring at me as I was driving by. I was suddenly the minority.
Sarah being black has not bothered Joyce in the comic. Racism by definition is either intolerance toward a specific racial group or the idea that color determines someone’s ability to achieve (i.e., whites will always be superior to blacks, or blacks will always be better athletes). Joyce has not done that here; she’s simply noted the racial difference between her and her roommate and notes that it’s a novelty *for her* to be living with some from a different racial group–which is the TRUTH since she’s obviously never had any kind of relationship with somebody outside of her own background. So, in a private conversation with her best friend, she said something that obviously can be taken the wrong way.
I think society will grow alot when we realize that being raised in , and acclimated to an inherently racist society isn’t an excuse.
I have a rule of thumb. One of the best ways to identify someone doesn’t realize their own prejudice is when they are accused of it they go “No I’m not! I- ect”. Someone who tries to weed out any prejudices they have and truely sees others as people seek to find out anything they do “wrong” and fix it. So the “proper” response would be something full of confusion and question. “wait, what? What did i say”
Basically everyone is inherently racist and prejudiced. Its part of our instincts to catagorize people, and make assumptions because we cant perfectly remember everything.
The key is learning things and being able to identify when you may be wrong or have the wrong perspective. WHich is why one of the most prejudiced things to do is to tell someone else they aren’t being discriminated against. Unless you are the same nationality, race, religion, sex, orientation, gender, then the first thing you should ask when you think someone is “wrongly” accusing others of being prejudiced is “am I in fact the one who is wrong”. and then proceed from there.
Mostly I think it’s how she thinks rooming with a black person is a NEW and EXCITING experience, like she was rooming with goddamn Mickey Mouse.
It probably is a new and exciting experience for her. I’d lay money that Sarah is probably the first black person she’s interacted with over an length of time.
Here’s hoping she picks up some education from more than just her classes…
ORLY? Cus the only thing she’s displayed thats different is being more mature, educated, and grounded.
Also she’s an aethiest.
Not like she even has slang or any “cultural” motifs.
The fact is the writer intentionally wrote her with those various flaws that niaeve people have.
It’s not that she said Sarah was black, it’s that she said that was a “novelty.”
Everyone’s a little bit racist, sometiiiimes / Doesn’t mean we go around committing, hate criiiimes.
Look around and you will find/No one’s really color blind/Maybe it’s a fact we all should faaaaaaace (FAAAAAAAAAAAACE!!!)/Everyone makes judgements/Based on race.
Hahaha! I love Avenue Q. I got to see it last year in NY.
Oh, and the song Matt and Noel are quoting:
A “novelty.” Wow, somehow that’s EXACTLY how I figured Joyce would say something racist. Sweet sounding but…offensive.
Definition of NOVELTY
1: something new or unusual
So um, yeah if it is new to Joyce it is a novelty for her. Not racist in the least.
people are amazing on here. seriously, joyce is being racist here. it’s not intentional, but it’s still racism. it’s out of her ignorance, sure, but the two things are not mutually exclusive. the excuse that she’s apparenly never been around black people before doesn’t make it less offensive that she thinks another person of a different race is a novelty (as if being white is some default).
But doesnt racism meen that you dislike that group or person because of their heritage?
Yeah, I mean, it’s not as if Sara’s a PERSON, or anything. She’s just black.
So because Sarah is a person, then the new experience of having a black roomate cannot be a “novelty” to Joyce?
Hmmm. Either someone is drinking way to much PC brand kool-aid or needs to go back to english class. Probably both.
Here’s my thing: it could be considered mild and unintentional racism because she’s putting Sarah in a group because of her skin color and not just as Sarah, but the offense is less about rasicm than just a personal insult. Trying to imagine this in terms of gender helps. Joyce wasn’t saying anything bad about Sarah because of her race- or making any comments about it at all really. She just slighted Sarah a little bit on a personal level- but not BECAUSE she’s black. Mostly, what it is is mildly awkward because you don’t generally go around talking about race like that- so it’s another way of showing Joyce’s cluelessness. I don’t think Sarah’s taking it more personally than ‘Joyce is weird’ and she shouldn’t.
What the fuck why did I ever write this. I disagree with this so much now. I think it’s def. racism (which has many forms and invades a lot of our everyday lives) and Sarah can react however she wants. jesus I hope I’m better now.
Hmmm. Either someone is drinking way to much PC brand kool-aid or needs to go back to english class. Probably both.
Before you call the grammar police, read your own definition:
“_something_ new or unusual.”
Referring to someone as a “novelty” and therefore a “thing” is indeed, racist.
I don’t think she’s referring to Sarah as a thing, I think “novelty” is referring to either rooming with a black person, meeting a black person, or Sarah’s being black.
I’m not sure if that is better, but I definitely don’t think Joyce thinks of Sarah as an “it”.
I just read this as Joyce being Joyce not really trying to say anything Racist.
Woo for isolated upbringing. =/
At this moment, Sarah’s probably almost wishing she’d got a stoner again.
Doubt it. Her expression gives me the feeling of “OK that’s weird, but I already knew she was kind of crazy.”
In my experience, most black people are far less prone to offense than most white people seem to think they are.
You obviously don’t live in or near Memphis, TN. While what you say os generally true, the white people here tend to be right more times than not.
I know you can’t tell, but this Black woman is giving you the same disapproving stare Joyce is getting.
I mean really, “most people black people”?? Really???
Yes, really. Lots of white people are afraid of saying anything race-related at all in front of black people for fear that they’ll somehow say something offensive. My point is, this usually isn’t warranted, as most black people aren’t so easily offended. I say “most” because, obviously, that’s not always the case. Again, just going by experience here.
Odd that you only took issue with the phrase “most black people” when I said “most white people” in the same sentence.
As a Black woman I took offense to your saying “most black people” because you implied that you knew the thoughts and motivations of “most black people” when it’s obvious from your statements that you know few, if any. It wasn’t until this recent post that you clarified by stating you were just going by your own experience, which you should have done in the first place.
odd that you don’t understand that black people have experienced and still do experience systematic and destructive discrimination based on race. white people haven’t, so no, it doesn’t fucking matter if some says ‘most white people’ dear lord.
Don’t freak out, everybody. So Joyce is a racist. Doesn’t mean that can’t change.
Not racist, Naive.
Eh. Naivety is really kind of early-stage racism.
Naivety has nothing to do with racism. Naivety is lack of experience. Racism is lack of intelligence despite experience.
Well, that’s kind of what I meant. Racism comes about when folk dig in with a naive opinion don’t budge. They don’t just start out going “You know what? Fuck black people.”
yeah, just like Home Economics classes are early-stage cooks. and a love of cooking is early stages for obeisity.
I think he was trying to make a joke using Joyce’s own words =X
Key word “trying”, eh?
Don’t take it personally, Joyce. She does that to everyone.
I am amused by your Amber looking up at luke~’s Amazi-Girl.
Can’t begin to imagine what would warrant that thousand-yard stare.
It’s a mystery.
Looks like Sarah’s regular facial expression to me…
Hey, I never met any black people before college either. It’s still strange meeting one. I just don’t say so out loud in front of them.
i think joyce’s mouth will get her in a heap of trouble
Uh…huh. If I’d ever said that about either of my previous roommates, my mother would have broken all the laws of physics to get to my dorm room for a “come t’ Jesus meetin’.”
Would meeting an Asian American be as much of a “novelty” to her, too?
I think Randominity was thinking of Dina. If that girl ever gets out from behind that door, anyway.
Holy crap. I honestly did not know Dina was asian. I just pulled up the wiki to check. Apparently her last name is part of the pun #earthshattering
You mean like Billie?
Did everyone else cringe at Joyce in the third panel too? I remember how dumb I could be when I was a college freshcritter.
I cringed more at some of the overly pc responses here. Joyce started off describing her roomate as a lot of people would, with a physical description and at the same time pointed out the absurdity of the PC stuff by saying, “African-American. Black. Whatever you call it.”
People throw around the word “racism” way to much. Minority gets asked for ID, cops are racist. Minority gets caught with drugs, again cops are racist. Minority running for political office, at some point someone mentions they should play the race card and imply the other guy is racist. It gets old and stupid real fast.
Here, Joyce was just rude but not racist.
I cringe at you white-knighting for an imaginary person, then using that as an opportunity to get on your soapbox about how those darn minorities are always trying to use race to sneak their way out of the natural consequences of their drug-having, cop-annoying ways. What’ll you do for an encore, start complaining about how rap isn’t “real music”? Maybe a snide comment about how much money basketball players make!
tl;dr you’re far more racist than Joyce
But … rap isn’t real music.
The thing here is that Joyce was being rude BECAUSE of Sarah’s race, that makes it not mere rudeness, but racist. It tells Sarah that the trait Joyce knows her most for isn’t what she wants to do, what she likes or dislikes, or what she believes, but the color of her skin. Joyce doesn’t mean any harm by it, and probably doesn’t know any better, but it doesn’t make it not racist.
“It tells Sarah that the trait Joyce knows her most for isn’t what she wants to do, what she likes or dislikes, or what she believes, but the color of her skin.”
That is practically all Joyce knows about Sarah! I mean “She used to have a druggie for a roommate and didn’t like it” would just be weird and a generic “Uh he’s nice” would piss me off more than if someone said “My roommate’s a cripple; it’s kind of a novelty” would. Then again I’m a member of a far less public minority because there’s no damn controversy about it. In short I /Have/ been called a novelty due to a surface thing and found it mildly stupid. They were not saying I was a thing; nor were they treating me like a social pariah. They were just ignorant; which is not synonymous with racist or prejudiced or hateful. I also noticed that not a single person saw Sarah as a bit bigoted over her earlier comments about homeschooling. After all I found her judging Joyce’s social abilities based on how she was educated as offensive as Joyce’s comment if not more so.
Your post, sir, is awesome. I don’t think it could be said better.
I kinda feel worse about how Becky reacted, not at Joyce’s comment. Sort of cause she’s kinda right. Out of all the Walkyverse characters I can actively remember, Sarah is one of three who is black.
I get the impression that Sarah was staring at Joyce before the phone call began. Mostly for accepting a date from the first guy she saw her meet.
And then saying she can change his jewishness.
Off the top of my head, I can think of Walky, Sal, Sarah, Hooks… ok, in my head I thought I was going to have a lot more names when I started typing this.
However, I can vouch for Joyce’s impression. It wasn’t until I joined the Army that I was first exposed to what I guess would be termed “Black Culture”. Although, in my defense, there was no internet or VH1 at that time and MTV was just starting. Different types of music, beliefs, slang, attitudes… it was indeed a novelty.
A few miles marching with a rucksack is a whole ‘nother type of novelty.
You forgot Mr. Walkerton. (I forgot the twins were half-black.)
Ok, six. Don’t remember Hooks off the top of my head. Didn’t realize with Walky and Sal, some sort of mental lapse there, I was refering to Jacob, Sydney, and Sarah.
From SP!, we have Sydney and Jacob. Then there’s Joe (I think?), and of course, Sarah…
(I really don’t know what race Walky and Sal are. But that’s all right.)
Saying that the Walkyverse has a lack of black characters when the guy the universe is named after is black is a bit like complaining their aren’t enough gay people in Shortpacked!
Holy shit, I didn’t know that Walky’s black. I guess I just thought he was hispanic like Ethan? I dunno. And I only just learned that Dina is asian, so today’s been a day of discoveries.
Er, I’m pretty sure that Ethan is not hispanic. Unless Americans classify Jews as hispanic, which I don’t think they do.
Walky is technically mixed race, with a black father and white mother. He’s made comments about not having typical black curly hair before, but apart from that his race has rarely come up. Apart from, y’know, looking at him I guess.
Oh that’s right, he is jewish. Of course he could be both.
Ethan’s Hispanic? Really? O_o
Man, Dave’s art is so far from the stereotypical “And here’s an Asian girl, and here’s a black guy, and here’s a gay guy, and here’s a lesbian,” etc art that honestly I kinda start tuning out skin colour the way I ignore anime hair colours.
Gotta say, as someone from a community that mainly only had caucasians and First Nations Canadians, meeting my first black guy was a novelty for me too, in the sense of “an experience I had not often had.” He was a very cool guy, and absolutely hilarious. But it really is very hard to come from a background where you only see black people on TV and in movies (and then what a lovely stereotype image THAT shows you! Even if you’re perfectly aware that it’s as stupid and insulting as the stereotype that all blondes are idiotic and materialistic sluts, it’s the only “experience” (I use the quotes because of course it’s not direct experience) you have.
To then actually meet a black person face-to-face was as much of a novelty as seeing my first actual Goth or my first real Australian (hey, Paul Hogan was big at the time). I realize that it does compartmentalize people to, well, compartmentalize them by something as arbitary as their skin colour or ethnic background or accent or nationality or gender or sexual alignment or or or– and I really hope that I’m not actually a racist. Certainly I don’t tend to make the stereotypical leap of “–and that means…” (they’re athletic; they’re in the Mafia; they’re faaaabulous with fashion; they whatever whatever whatever) and pretty much take people as PEOPLE first.
But still, when you first meet the representative of an entire demographic that you’ve only seen (mis)represented in the media, it’s, yes, a “novelty.”
REEEAAAALLY rude of Joyce to talk about her roomie as though she wasn’t sitting RIGHT THERE, though. Was it racist? Gods, I don’t even know anymore. XD Don’t judge meeee!! At least I’m trying?
god I was dumb. am I just gonna cringe at every comment I made here?
The Walkyverse has an incredibly diverse cast, ethnically as well as by gender. The fact that out of the thirty or so characters I can remember off the top of my head, the fact that six are black(see above correction) doesn’t mean that I said that there was a lack of black people. Just that if you rolled up random interactions with Joyce and any other character, the odds of her meeting a black character are lower than the odds of her meeting a character of any other race.
And she’s talked to two since being in college. Take that, law of probabilities.
Obligatory link: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters
Better look into a brain-to-mouth filter, Joyce. All the cool kids have them.
This is must more realistic than her dating a non-christian, according to my decent amount of experience with home schooled extremely christian girls. (they’re scary)
A novelty? Seriously, I know Joyce was raised with a very religious upbringing, which gave a somewhat sheltered life… but just how sheltered was she? Did her church really have no black people? Where exactly did she grow up? The 1950′s?
I’ve been a member of three seperate chruchs over ten years on both sides of my State, and yes, it is possible to go somewhere where there is not a single black person.
Heck my college barely has black students.
It’s actually not that uncommon. People tend to go to churches in their neighborhood. Neighborhood’s tend to be pretty segregated. Not totally, but enough that it isn’t uncommon to go to a church and it be people of mostly one ethnicity.
It actually ties a lot more into the social bracket you live in, and it’s a hard barrier to break.
Helps in her case that she belonged to a homeschool group, so you can imagine that they were very exclusive.
You may have hit the nail on the head when you said “Where exactly did she grow up” – emphasis on the “where”. Not all parts of the country have the same demographics – and if you get rural, or even not-big-city, then it’s extremely easy to leave one minority or another COMPLETELY behind.
For example, I live in the biggest city in Idaho. The absolute biggest. I never saw any non-white person at all in this town until I went to the college here. Not. A. Single. One. (To be fair, though, the number of them has been rising visibly in the fifteen or so years since then.)
If one were to leave town and go rural in this region, I gather that your odds of seeing latinos would go up – but your odds of seeing black people would drop back to the levels I saw in my youth. So it really does come down to where you grow up. (And, yes, when.)
Indeed. I know it’s hard to believe that ethnic minorities haven’t saturated every corner of the earth, but lot’s of places are just plain white. City I live in? Minorities aplenty. Take a thirty minute drive down to the small town my grandparents live in? They’ve only seen em on TV.
There were 2 people in my school that were Black, and maybe 3-5 latinos out of an average graduating class of 200. I graduated in 2004.
Indeed. I know it’s hard to believe that ethnic minorities haven’t saturated every corner of the earth, but lot’s of places are just plain white.
I bet there are place on the Earth were white are the ethnic minority.
Gwinnett County, Georgia. You can find members of every minority there, and I’m pretty sure whites aren’t ethically predominant.
Los Angeles is one. Last census I believe LA (and the surrounding counties) ran close to 60% Latino then White / Asian / Black / Other
Oh joyce. Never change.
But that would be boring after some time.
Wait, Sarah’s black?
Ha! Best reaction.
shh, you’re not supposed to notice or comment on her skin tone. Otherwise you’ll be labeled a racist.
Oh, you got Colbert-opia? Where you are literally skin-colourblind? I hear that’s extremely rare.
I’m cringing a bit at Joyce but I’m also thrown a little by Becky’s question.
I mean, how does she think it’s going to ‘work out’?
Then again she was in the same home school group.
This Sarah might look at this Joyce disapprovingly but she seems to be able to tolerate Joyce which is an improvement over their Walkyverse counterparts. I guess.
It’s like as though she were from another planet… Or Alabama.
…And Joyce stops being the comparatively reasonable one.
I love how some people are defending Joyce’s statements. Yes, she isn’t being deliberately mean, but it’s still condescending and insensitive. How would she react if a Muslim told her it was a “novelty” to meet a Christian?
Given the fact that Joyce used it here, she would probably understand exactly what the person was saying. Unlike a lot people here, who either need a dictionary or an English class.
Dictionaries carry denotation. What is bothersome about Joyce’s statement is the connotation.
Also, stop being a racist fuck.
Y’know, even though I don’t think Joyce is being racist, your first two sentences make sense.
And then you just lose me with the last sentence…there’s no reason to call Tau that. Sure, she’s kinda insensitive but that doesn’t mean you have to be.
So while your argument works, you may lose potential support because of that last sentence which makes you look mean and belittling.
That’s a lot of words just to make the tone argument. C-
dude just stop.
Compared to who?
And given that she is having a private conversation where she is accurately conveying the experience of meeting possibly-her-first colored person, what is she supposed to do? Lie about it? I know I did a double-take the first time I saw one in the flesh (at around the same age Joyce is here); calling it ‘novel’ is about as polite a way to describe the experience as there can possibly be.
Honestly, people who are criticizing Joyce here are falling into the same trap she is – they’re judging the rest of the world from only their own perspective. Yes, in *your* town every third person (or every two of three people) is non-white, so a person who says they never met one is a novelty to you. Despite the fact that in other places they’re the norm. So stop being so condescending and insensitive, eh?
We’re criticizing Joyce because she treated Sara like a thing. A museum display. Not a person.
Look, my experience is probably more like Joyce’s than yours. I have, in my life, known, maybe, half a dozen black people. I was 14 before I met even one. I grew up in a very white place.
Strangely enough, despite that fact, it never occurred to me think ‘oh, a black person, how novel’, but rather ‘hmm, he seems like a nice person’.
And to me it seems Joyce is saying that this is a novel experience having a black person for a roomate, meaning it is a new experience to her to be rooming with Sara. Heck maybe it has nothing to do with Sarah being black and just that this is the first time Joyce has had to share a room with someone.
Could you get the ketchup down while you’re reaching that far?
except for the fact that she specifically says “she’s black… which is pretty neat really. It’s like a novelty”
When has she treated Sarah like a museum display? Do you think the “it” in “It’s like a novelty” refers to Sarah? She hasn’t referred to Sarah as an “it” in the past, so why would she randomly start now?
“It”, I believe, refers to meeting a black person which, to Joyce, IS a novelty. She’s never met a black person before, so this is new to her.
Also, on a completely ‘nother subject, I see that Joyce continues to have a nice rack. Mm-Mmmm…
Hallelujah! Preach it!
Joyce isn’t racist….just adorably ignotant/innocent
I’ve never actually met any black dudes/ladies in my time at college (or at least talked to anyone), so I guess I would be in Joyce’s boat.
Except that’s a pretty bad choice of word.
I do worry about Joyce and Becky’s views and upbringing, having seen their ideas about lesbians, Jews and black people.
Not a bad word choice. Reading comprehension fail. It is pretty obvious that the novelty is either a) having a roomate, b) having a roomate who also happens to be black, or c) both a&b
Look at Becky’s question again. She asked “How’s having a roomate?” This could imply that Joyce has never had to share a room before.
Joyce’s response implies that she has not had interaction with a black person before.
Logical answer is that Joyce most likely hasn’t had a roomate before much less one that is black, therefore having a black roomate is a novelty for her in that it is a new experience.
Then again maybe I shouldn’t use logic seeing as how a bunch of people instantly foamed at the mouth and screamed that Joyce was a racist. I should no better since I live in Memphis, the Race baiting capital of the Universe.
Well, part of proper word choice, and reading comprehension, is to be aware of not only the dictionary definition but also the common implications of a word – in this case, using a word which while it literally means “something new,” is probably going to be understood as meaning “something that is only valuable because it is new or unusual.” It was a perfectly natural thought, and as long as she doesn’t get too hung up on it, may be part of a healthy readjustment to her current social situation. That doesn’t mean she should have said it out loud, especially in front of her roommate. Yes, it’s a private conversation with Becky, but the nature of cellphones makes private conversations public, and it probably would have been more polite to find somewhere else to talk if she was going to discuss Sarah. Even disregarding the question of whether the “novelty” comment specifically was offensive, it’s a little rude to be talking about Sarah like she’s not there.
Not sure who to comment this to…so hopefully someone will read this. Keep in mind that she’s talking to Becky, who obviously has had the same upbringing as Joyce. Becky has never met a non-white person either (and probably hasn’t met any Jews, either). To them, they are being polite and PC.
This comic is still new. We’re meeting some character conflict here. Joyce has an obvious place she can grow from. Awesome.
Just because I’m willing to defend/understand what she says, doesn’t mean that I didn’t cringe. If I met someone like her in real life I’d…well I’d correct her thoughts about Jews anyway, being half Jewish myself.
In general, referring to people by their haircut (or bandana, in this case) is what I’d go with. If I got Sarah for a roommate, people would ask me what she’s like, I’d say, “Kind of surly and she wears this bandana, but she seems nice enough.”
But should we have to avoid including skin color in our descriptions? Would you omit hair or eye color too? I feel like if we try side step any mention of skin tone or race we verge on trying to pretend it doesn’t exist, giving it more importance than it needs. I always felt like the idea was to get to a point where we didn’t have to ignore race, but didn’t have to make it big deal either. And if we make it an impolite thing to mention casually, aren’t we making it a big deal reguardless of our intentions? Please respond if you want, because I’m still trying figure this one out myself and another veiwpoint would help.
I do slightly agree with the idea that Joyce was being more ignorant than racist. If she and Becky had never met anyone who was black then it probably is worth commenting on. If Sarah was Britsh, that would probably also be worth commenting on. The mistake she’s made is that she’s said it right in front of Sarah, labelling her as a “race” rather than as a person.
As an extra (and to counter my own argument), race ideally should be commented on in exactly the same way as hair colour, eye colour and stuff like that. However, since we live in a world where very few people have ever been lynched for having blue eyes, it’s always going to be a tricky subject and people should have a certain element of courtesy before jumping in with “hey, she be black, yo? That’s totally fly!”
Do you believe racism still exist? Do you believe it is still an issue?
Do you believe racism still exists at a systemic level, or only at an individual basis? That is, do you believe we still live in a system that favors a race, or some races, over others, or do you believe the current system is colour blind, and racism is only found in some individuals? An aberration in an otherwise equalitarian society?
If the latter was true, then perhaps, indeed, issues of language shouldn’t matter. Skin colour becomes as trivial as eye colour and hair colour.
But I for one don’t think we’re quite there yet. “Black” carries with it connotations of poverty, drugs, crime, violence, that “white” doesn’t.
It’s good when Caucasians choose their words carefully. Being casual about race in a system that privileges some races over others just keeps the status quo. Being proactive in our language as well as in our actions can bring real change.
So, what do we, privileged Caucasians, do?
Well, how often is a physical description really needed, anyway? Unless you are specifically being asked about a physical description, talk about everything else. Talk about the things that matter to you, what you like, or don’t like about them.
In case you really need, one day, to describe someone physically, learn the vocabulary. Learn to be aware of other people’s feelings, and learn to look past skin colour. Be aware that certain words carry history and it gives them weight you may not want to give them, and so you avoid them in favour of words that better reflect your intent.
As I understand it, it’s better to be specific. Instead of just “Black”, say they are “Haitian”, or “Cameroonian-American”. If you don’t know the specific origin (because you only just met them or it never came up), then say “African-American”, or “person of colour”, or “coloured person”.
And be aware that when you say it, people still hear “black” and all those connotations of poverty, crime, drugs and violence I mentioned earlier. Not that you can help it. But being aware of it will likely make you more careful.
Whew! That was longer than I thought! Sorry about that…
Well, “African-American” is way more specific than just “black”. “Coloured person” is, at least in the UK, way way way more racist than saying black (because, well, everyone is a colour”). And “person of colour”? It’s not a religious position, and this is not the 1960s.
(Also, where are you from? Because you’ve said “African-American” and yet spelt “coloured” the British way. I am confused.)
@LiamKav : you may be right about any or all your interpretations of those words. I agree that African-American is more specific than black. “People of colour”… I dunno. I thought it more acceptable than black, but I could be wrong.
As for where I’m from : I’m from Montréal, Québec. I’m actually a native French speaker, which would explain (but not necessarily excuse) some confusion I may have with the language (re: coloured people; seriously, I’m going to have to do some quick research about that). Yet, in school, I have been taught “color” and “colour” as being both acceptable. I tend to use “colour” as it makes me feel special and unique, like a snowflake.
I wrote Cameroonian-American rather than Cameroonian-Canadian, because I expected a mostly American audience. I may have been wrong there too.
Okay, Wikipedia says “people/person of colour” is good while “coloured people/person” is bad. Though that seems to be primarily from a United States perspective.
Wikipedia may not be the best source of course. Other documents I found seem to confirm my first impression, that it is better to say “Haitian” or “Haitian-Canadian”. This aside, “black” and “person of colour” appear both acceptable…
It does vary from person to person, country to country. In the above case, I think it’s perfectly fine for a small child to differentiate between two people by saying that one is black and one is white (although in my limited experience, children tend to describe each other as “brown” and “pink”, or any number of colours in between). Someone might get offended by being called black, but wherever they are right or just being over sensitive is a judgement call and something that worries far more clever people than I, including some that wear slippers.
“Coloured person” stems (at least in the UK) from black people being described as “coloured”, and is a no go. It’s also much more acceptable to say “black person” than just “black”. It’s the difference between saying “gay people are outraged by new civil union laws” and “the gays are outraged by new civil union laws.”
If someone is speaking it as a second language though, then people really should give you a bit of leaway. Learning what similar words are fine and/or offensive in slightly different situations has got to be a nightmare.
Myself a french speaker, I would never use personne de couleur in french, because that’s pointed out as racist….this side of the Atlantic. Person fo colour, acronyme PC, is used by websites as blackalicious (which I do recommend) that are written by “PC” persons. I put PC under scores because I find it myself unsufficient and biased. In the US, jews (or Jews, I don’t know which one, the people or the religious group) are considered as PC. But you can’t tell someone is jewish by looking at him/her, unless s/he’s an orthodox one, and even for an ethnic group it’s highly questionnable (and questionned, since there are beta israel). So I prefer the term “racisé” (racised), which means that the race is not in itself the label, but the fact people design you as a member of a group from another origin as the mainstream one – in the US wasps, in France, wes-european. This word can then be used for former Yugoslawian refugees, Rroms or Euxin turks, which are white caucasian or whatever the ethnic type can be called.
The other insteresting aspect of it is that you can then discriminate racised people in a racised group: in France, creole are often racist over black people of direct african root, as creole were and are sometimes in Gwadaloup (Guadeloupe in french) or Matinik (Martinique) islands the owners, and the african newcomers the workers – must be said too that the french administration has wiped the african origin of many creole surnames to make them assimilate more easily the colonial blurb.
Third and last, for what I can remember, the use of the word black is the result of a struggle of the black people in order to stop the insulting words negro and nigger to appear in the people mouths. Nowadays, in the US, you use african american for those who have settled in America for certain time, and african, or the coutry they are from for the others. In France, the common use is to keep using “noir” (black), respecting the struggle for the rights (even if the segregation had been wiped longer time ago), or the national origin. This last use is often felt as offensive because all french are french, any country they come from originally – it is, too a pain in the ass for people like me who want to have a nationalty based upon the land you live in and not the one you’re born, or your parents are.
jesus christ I wanna go back in time and hit myself
I’ve met quite a few people that think of different types of people as novelty. Living in a very christian area of New york, I’ve gotten a lot of the “omg you’re a jew???” type responses from people in the past, and generally it’s not meant to be a racist comment, there’s just a feeling that meeting a jewish person (and just about any other type of person that isn’t a white caucasian) is something new and different.
I agree that what Joyce said was demeaning, but that it was probably done out of naivety, not blatant racism.
you folks should check out this website if you don’t understand why Joyce’s comment was racist or at least hurtful. It’s really interesting and not something most non-minority people think about. Helps with that brain-to-mouth filter. ^_^
First off, as a ‘non-minority’ (I guess) I have thought about those things, and that’s racist. Kidding, Kidding!
Well I looked at the website, and I thought it had some good points, but also ones I really have to disagree with. For one thing, the idea that giving the same privileges to one group that another group has won’t work because those privileges are built on the discrimination of the other group. I agree that there are privileges like that, but you just get rid of those. The other things make life better one group but are not given at the expense of the other? Just give those rights to them too. Make a better variety of flesh colored Band-Aids, whatever. And some of the things listed as benefits for non-minorities: that we get to walk into shops and see other non-minorities? Believe it or not, walking into a store employed only with white people does not improve my life in any way. I get nothing from that. There are no special discounts at stores with only white employees. Why that should be considered a benefit to me? Why would it be benefit to any race to only buy their shoes from people of the same race, unless everyone is just racist? This idea just keeps showing up! The only way it could apply is in terms of getting hired by someone, but that’s not how it’s phrased. Not to mention, in terms of population, you really can’t always expect a balance, because there’s not always a balance in the people living there. If I moved to Japan I wouldn’t expect to only buy things from other white people, so you have to look at percentages too. And many of these benefits are far more applicable in terms of wealth than race. Not that the two aren’t connected, but not enough to pretend the big determination of it was race instead of money. Sorry for such a long note, I know it must have been dull. Please respond if you feel the urge!
I think I’m actually gonna die. I totally remember this conversation actually. It really bothered me, which was good and I think was part of why I started learning more about shit. Thank you strange internet stranger. I owe you one.
Wow, Joyce. Just um… just not earning any points here, are you?
You may not *BE* racist, and still, sometimes *SAY* racist things. Because you don’t realize its racist.
If Joyce had Sal as a roommate, the first thing she would have said is not : “she has very long hair.” Probably rather : “she’s so cool, she has a motorcycle.” If she was with Billie, or Dorothy, she wouldn’t say “you know, she wears glasses, that’s new” but rather “she’s so brave, she stood up to our bully of a RA” or “she’s nice, she’s into cartoons”…
But with Sara, apparently, it’s not “she’s alreay been here a year/ she’s so mature/ she’s very serious/ she REALLY doesn’t like stoners/ etc.” It’s, “you know, she’s black, that’s cool.”
Really, is that her defining caracteristic?
Now, I don’t think Joyce is a racist. I think she’s a nice person who said an unfortunate thing with unfortunate implications.
How she will react when confronted is going to be the better proof of character. Apologize and move on, rather than get all defensive.
But that neither makes her racist nor is what she said racist. That is just what the PC kool-aid pushers want you to believe.
Besides Becky wasn’t asking who is your roomate or what is your roomate like. She asked “How’s having a roomate?” meaning what is it like to have a roomate. Joyce just happened to throw in a general description of Sarah. “She’s black.” Nothing defining. People need to grow up and realize just because someone says that somebody is black, white, latino, hispanic, green, or purple it is not racisim at play, just observation.
are you serious? you’re really going out of your way to completely miss the point.
What the fuck is a “PC kool-aid pusher”?
Man I agree with you so much. The stupid arguments on here actually remind me of an incident in 8th grade English.
The class had just let out and I noticed that one of my new classmates had dropped an expensive pen (I had overhear him say it was a present from his ailing grandma or something to that effect) and I asked the teacher to call the boy back. I couldn’t do it because I didn’t know his name, and being a shrimp there was no way I was getting through the exiting crowd nor did I know what his next class was. The teacher reasonably asked, “Which boy?” At the time two boys had been exiting, both with box haircuts, red shirts, about the same height and build. I answered the only thing I could. “The black one.” You see, the other boy was white, so it was the most obvious difference.
A black girl went ballistic on me claiming I was a racist. The teacher said that was nonsense because I was just being specific about which of the boys it was. I had grown up in a mix neighborhood so the last thing I cared about was race. (The boy got his pen back btw, turned out he had a hole in his pocket.)
This will be the same girl who two years later would keep referring to me as “the white girl” when I’m not even white. That’s right, I’m a minority. Isn’t that hilarious?
I really wish people would stop misusing the word “racist”. The poor thing is so battered from the improper treatment.
Using “black” to describe someone is absolutely fine, especially for identification purposes. Using it in a way that defines who that person is, isn’t. If they want to, they can, but it’s up to them, not you.
It’s really not hard to get.
[If they want to, they can, but it’s up to them, not you.]
Unless you’re a mix-black who doesn’t identify as black but as mixed. Then all the ones that do identify as black get in your face for it because you’re an outrage to your black heritage.
[Using “black” to describe someone is absolutely fine, especially for identification purposes.]
Wherever you are it’s not here. :/ You can’t even mention skin color without the race card being thrown at you. And doom on you if you get into a disagreement with someone of a different race, because that makes you racist. Ignoring the fact that race had nothing to do with it.
It would be nice if people would stop misusing the word racist when they only mean insensitive. Joyce was insensitive in her phrasing, yes. But she wasn’t being racist.
oh hey there well reasoned comment.
Can’t we all just agree that it was funny and move on?
Joyce trying to convert a Jew to christianity. Well…it can happen. When I was going to church my pastor was Jewish but also Christian. He converted to christianity but still practicted some Jewish customs (his kids got to celebrate christmas AND Hannukah!).
Joyce sounds like my aunt who grew up in Utah where black people were a rare site growing up. A black family moved across the street from her and the way she talked about em it sounded like Steve Irwin or David Attenburough observing animals in the wild and discovering they do the same things as everyone else.
Hahahaha. Dude that happens to me more than it should. Acceptable racism to most, whatever. I thought it was kinda funny.
Hehe, I can almost see Sarah in a vader costume giving Joyce the ole vader choke :-))
Yes, what Joyce said was racist. Lovable idiots can be racist. Even if she didn’t mean to offend anybody, it still doesn’t lessen the fact that it was racist. If somebody accidently hits you with their car, it doesn’t make your bones heal any faster knowing that they didn’t mean to do it.
Joyce’s foot, meet Joyce’s mouth.
Yeah, Joyce said something racist, but I’m loling at the people who are apparently raeging at how “JOYCE IS RACIST OMG”.
Sometimes the comments are almost as funny as the actual comic. Case in point.
Almost as funny as the people raging ‘OMG THAT’S NOT RACIST UR ALL PC IDIOTS’
People are hilariously dumb.
@Iasthai had the best comment “How she will react when confronted is going to be the better proof of character. Apologize and move on, rather than get all defensive.” and it really seems to have gotten ignored.
As a black person a lot of things you hear you have to run multiple filters to get the intent, and that can’t be done in text alone. This is one scene and there will be plenty more to come to show character. Besides, I honestly think Sara’s exact thoughts are “There are so many things wrong with everything you just said.”
The over all point being simple, Joyce is sheltered and doesn’t know much of anything of the world. Her friend doesn’t want her to change, because she doesn’t want to lose her as she grows up and with different experiences that Becky will not have had. IMO
I like you, that’s exactly what I thought.
Hey, everybody? *waves hand* …It’s funny because Joyce occasionally says offensive things, not because she’s necessarily a bad person, but just spectacularly clueless. It’s really not hard to follow.
Sarah’s “What fugging planet are you from?” expression in the last panel is absolutely priceless.
Agreed, Sarah’s expressions are always awesome X3
I’m sorry but I do beleive this is just a comic yet peple are having debates about racism. Gets kinda distracting.
I think it’s just poking fun at Sarah being the token black girl since, well, she kind of is.
Apart from Sal.
In fact, in a cast of 7 girls we have one black, one half black, one Asian/white-British, one of Irish decent, and 3 American-White girls. That’s more of a mix than you’d get in most TV shows.
Okay, this has always confused me: are Sal/Walky half black, one-fourth black, three fourths black, or what?
It was hard to tell the skin color of their parents back in the black-and-white It’s Walky! comic. I do remember Walky saying that his dad is half white at one point though….
IIRC, they’re one-quarter black, from their dad’s side. I could be wrong, though.
At the very least, they appear to be Caucasian enough in appearance that they don’t twig Joyce’s “oh hey look black people that’s novel” response.
The thing is, “black” can be used to describe people who are only partially black, whereas caucasian pretty much means “completely white”. Halle Berry would get described as being black. She’d never be called “caucasian”.
Joyce is specifically describing her room-mate to someone here. She didn’t say “oh wow you’re black” when she first met Sarah, so she wouldn’t do the same thing to Walky or Sal.
I have a short, skinny Italian friend I tell to intimidate everyone with his mafia looks. I think he likes the thought of being intimidating despite his size. =P
And I have tutored a lot of black kids before, so I’m definitely not racist! I always ask them if they need help with their studies.
It’s hilarious that so many people are offended at other people stating that Joyce is being racist. She said something racist, y’all. If you say something like that, you’re being racist too. Check your privilege, kay?
So, I know there are debates about grammar syntax and the proper meaning of “novelty”, but to me, given how people I know talk, regardless of whether they use proper grammar or not, it sounds like Joyce isn’t referring to having a black roommate as a novelty, but rather to the very fact that Sarah is black at all as a novelty. Joyce isn’t really racist, and it’s pretty clear she doesn’t look down at Sarah, but it sounds like she considers anything she wasn’t raised with, be it gender studies or black roommates, unusual. Not necessarily bad, but different, not normal. She call’s Sarah’s race a “novelty,” which in this context basically means an amusing oddity, without stopping to think that to Sarah, as well as the majority of the cast, someone being black is just as normal as someone being white. And frankly, that’s demeaning, because it implies that there’s something fundamentally different about Sarah (not something necessarily bad) simply because of her race. Even if Sarah was a black clone of Joyce, with the same type of upbringing and worldview, Joyce would still be calling Sarah’s blackness a novelty. She is treating Sarah in a very condescending manner. Just because Joyce doesn’t mean to be condescending or offensive doesn’t change the fact that she said really was offensive. As someone said earlier, the best judge of Joyce’s character will be her reaction when she realizes she hurt someone without meaning to. I have a feeling Sarah would be more frustrated with her, rather than mad, if Joyce took the time to say something along the lines of “I’m sorry if I accidentally say something stupid and offensive, but I’ve never really interacted with anyone outside my bubble before, so this is all a new experience to me. Any inadvertently insulting remarks are due to my inexperience with this sort of situation rather than my opinion of you, and I will try to learn better.”
Although that wouldn’t be the funniest comic in the world, would it?
Wynne for the win!
Oh Joyce….how scandalous you are.
I find it entertaining that your all having a humanitarian psychological discussion based upon the words of a make believe character.
Am I the only black reader here who doesn’t really think Joyce was being racist?
I’m not saying her words were not offensive but racism just seems a bit too extreme for me. Hell, even the word prejudiced would be in this case.
Actually, the questionable part would have been the part where she wasn’t sure what to call us by. But seeing as how there’s been a particular issue on whether we go by ‘black’ or “African American…” I can’t blame her for such a statement. Though in essence, it’s a personal thing depending on the person. I’ll go by both but a black person might actually come out and say, they’re African American and stress that phrase to show that calling them black is not kosher for them.
Really, I think Joyce is just tactless which is probably due to her ignorance.
I’m told it’s possible to grow up in the Midwest and never even meet a black person until pretty late in life by people who lived it, so this is pretty funny to me.
I should have linked this 3 days ago : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ti-gkJiXc
I understand what he’s saying, but I’m not sure how you can really keep both of the conversations separated. You can approach a person who said/did something racist and point that out, and then because they don’t want to be associated with that, they get very defensive and bring up that they aren’t racist (as who they are). Then comes the derailing.
Depends on several factors, I guess.
If you are being non-confrontational, you are much more likely to get a non-confrontational response. They get defensive, they insist they are not racist… You reassure them that this is not the issue. Smart people sometimes say stupid things. When it happens, you correct them.
And then, (and I’m not sure about that one, it just occurred to me), perhaps we needn’t get attached with the racist label. I mean, I estimate AT LEAST 90% of the commenters here have agreed that Joyce made a faux-pas here. Some, many, however, balk at the word racist, which seems too strong for them. Other words were used : offensive, unfortunate, rude, prejudiced, demeaning, disrespectful… What’s most important, that we all agree to call it “racist” or that we all agree it’s something you should not say/do?
With some people, it won’t get anywhere, no matter what, I’ll grant you that. Then is it really useful to have the discussion? Maybe, especially if the event occurred in public. If the offender wont learn, maybe bystanders will. Perhaps they’ll even take your side of the discussion. (Of course, pointing out one’s mistakes in public is going to make it harder for them to see the attempt as non-confrontational. Especially if you gang up on them.)
Okay, and one last note. Sometimes, we’re just angry, and we care more aboout expressing our wrath than convincing the other. We’re lashing out. I can’t blame anyone for getting pissed off about others words and actions. Race, prejudice, intolerance, privilege are all sensistive subjects and invite sensitive reactions. However, it increases the chances of the offender to feel attacked (because, well, you attacked him) and get defensive. You could still make some progress, but probably not as good as if you’ve reasoned with them. Stopped sayng the n-word in front of you because it’s your berserk button vs stopped saying it altogether.
If you find racism in here, it’s because you were looking for it specifically.
I mean, really.
Since when is recognizing differences recognizing faults?
I believe you are missing the point. Who said anything about faults? Joyce reduced Sarah to her race. She doesn’t have to make her race a negative thing. She just has to make it a relevant thing.
And it’s not a relevant thing! Really, it isn’t*. Or it shouldn’t be. Ethnicity can be relevant, in a fun cultural-exchange way. But the assumption “my life is going to be so different/exciting/exotic now that I have a black roommate!” is absurd. Period.
And why should Sarah (or the viewers at home) take offense? Because they want to be appreciated for what they really are, not for the perceived attributes of their race. Sarah (as far as we know) has live in the United States all her life. She should be as novel an experience to Joyce as Dorothy would in her place. But Joyce doesn’t seem to see past skin color, or at least, skin color is Sarah’s defining trait as far as she’s concerned. That’s offensive.
*Okay, perhaps it is relevant to black people that they’re black. Because they’re treated differently because of it. Because they share a history and a kinship with other people that are black. I don’t want to insult anyone, and by saying “race is irrelevant” the last thing I’d want to imply is that you shouldn’t feel proud of your origins. Words are tricky and even though I wasn’t certain about using “relevant”, but I couldn’t think of a better word or phrasing.
It’s the religionism that stick out for me, and how it’s given a complete pass in (most? all?) the comments.
And I have to keep wondering why racism is somehow more important. Someone mind telling me?
Theory : Joyce’s “special” outlook on religion is nothing new. We’ve known for weeks Joyce is only in college to get her MRS degree. And when Joe asks her out, she starts the survey : “do you accept Jesus in your heart?” (I’m pretty sure that’s the wrong quote, but I’m to lazy to check.) Joe says he’s Jewish, and Joyce skips the next several sections, all implied to be based on religion, but doesn’t reject him outright. When we learn she’s hoping to convert him… Well, it’s no surprise to anyone. It’s par for the course for this character, and the possibility had already been discussed in the comments of previous comics, mostly as wrong and unlikely to succeed.
Also, I’d like to point out how efficient the storytelling is. David has been writing and drawing comics for a good long while now, and it shows. Though some people still find ambiguity in the strip above, I think he’s pretty good at communicating his intent across. He starts by confirming what everyone expects (that Joyce hope to convert Joe) but doesn’t dwell on it, and instead segues into the wham line, where we discover Joyce’s narrow and sheltered views aren’t limited to religion and gender, but also to race. That’s new, and that’s what the bigger part of the comic is about, and so, that is what people tend to discuss.
That basically boils down to the religionism being less important/already implied, which pretty much answers my question. Thank you.
Well, people in my country tend to see other races with stereotypes. Here we are mostly latinos with some pure caucasians. Most asians here are koreans (and most of them have minimarkets), so when you see an asian you already have in your mind the idea of a korean with a minimarket; and most black people are from brazilian (when we got independence and got rid of slavery, all the former slaves were sent to an unique town, and their descendants mostly stay there, so you don’t see many paraguayan blacks), so you think of them as soccer-loving dudes.
People pick up on distinguishing features: it’s how we remember people. My tall gangly friend for instance, is notable for his height, since none of my other friends are that tall.
Noting someone for their skin color is similar. Racism only comes into it if you assume the significance is more than skin deep.
I’m reminded of Stephen Colbert, for some reason: “I don’t see race. People tell me I’m white, and I believe them, because I have my own TV show…”
Anyhow, I think this might be the funniest comic strip yet.
Racism is one of those things that is unlikely to go away.
The differences in race, creed, colour, size or even sexual orientation are just too convenient as a means for scapegoating and claiming superiority for bigots to ever give up on using.
GEE I WONDER WHY THAT IS, JOYCE.
Gah, too much serious debating here.
I have a selection of boxes.
Some of these boxes are large, and some are small.
Some of them are blue, and some of them are gray.
Some of these boxes are made of cardboard, and some plastic.
Some of these boxes are made to carry bottles of wine, some are made for storing files.
Some of these boxes will fall apart 3 weeks after they were made and some will stay solid for years.
Some of those boxes are waterproof and some aren’t.
Some of these boxes are shiny and some are matt.
How do you describe a box to someone over the phone?
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Who is the main character of Dumbing of Age?
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