I wasn't planning a blog response to Bill White's first post on race and diversity in archaeology, which itself was a response to Episode 51 of the CRM Archaeology Podcast about diversity in Archaeology.
Then I saw the first episode of the "The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore". It was a stereotypical race-bashing extravaganza! For the first time ever a black man gets a show on a major network in a popular time slot, according to Wilmore anyway, and if anyone had to guess what the topic of the first show would be, most of us would have said race. Well, you're right.
We're trying to talk about racism in archaeology and how to get more non-whites interested in a career in the field but we have a long ways to go before we can even tackle that problem. First, black artists are going to have to stop thinking they have a free pass to talk about racism. It's just as racist as white people doing it. Black artists are making the problem worse by making fun of it and by CONSTANTLY TALKING ABOUT IT. I'm not saying we/they shouldn't talk about racism and how to fix it. I'm saying don't make it a punchline.
Wilmore started the show by talking about the Academy Awards and the movie Selma. The movie was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Song (for Glory) but not best Actor or Director. Now Al Sharpton is leading a charge to bring action against the Academy Awards for being racist. Really? How can you possibly prove that? What amount of nominations would have made Sharpton happy? Does EVERYTHING that has to do with MLK have to be elevated and celebrated? Anything associated with all of those decisions is racist no matter how you look at it.
The second episode of Nightly
The second episode started with Bill Cosby and the crap he's been going through. Is the show only going to be about black celebrities and issues? Wilmore is a funny guy and shouldn't have to just talk about race issues on his show. Why can't he just be a comedian? Is it the public's fault? Do we only except racist comedy from non-white comedians? We have a long ways to go.
Where do we go from here?
Every time I write that line I think of Buffy. Anyway...
We need to stop making race a punchline. That's it. Start there and see what happens. I don't care if you're black. If you make a black joke or a joke about race then you're a racist. As a white man, If I make a white joke then I'm racist. Any time you make a color-based joke or reference, YOU'RE RACIST.
I hope the Nightly Show starts covering other news. I hope they do it from a perspective other than race. Think about what you say and how you say it regardless of your race. Stop thinking you get to use a "Get out of racism free card" just because you aren't white. Become part of the solution and start talking about how we can move forward.
I'm not really sure where to share this post. If you think it should be shared, either for ridicule or comment, then please, share it.
Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the field.