Musician’s Amazing Joke Teaches Twitter How to Combat Racism With Humor

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I think we can all agree that Twitter-fighting with people, especially people who’ve already made it clear that they’re racist, is generally a bad idea. You’re probably not going to win. In fact, they probably won’t even listen to you. More than likely, you’ll get yourself upset and then sulk around your house and make the real, live humans in your life irritated by your presence.

Standing up against racism, sexism, transphobia and homophobia are important, and I think we should all do that more, but those back and forths on Twitter? Tell me if you’ve had a different experience, but I’ve never seen one end well.

Anyway, Twitter user @YungAshuSingh showed that the best way to start an international conversation about stereotypes was with a joke, and he’s gotten a ton of attention for it.

The young white guy’s tweet is a year old, but when it appeared in Singh’s timeline this week, he countered the stereotype that people in turbans are terrorists (which we already know is one of the stupidest assumptions anyway) with a stereotype about white guys.

Yes, white guys, if you look at it this way, our race doesn’t have a great legacy of violence.

Singh isn’t trying to encourage racism against white guys for the actions of a very small minority of white men. Instead, he’s trying to point out the absurdity of race-based stereotypes.

If you don’t like being held responsible for the actions of a few bad people who look like you, then you shouldn’t hold others responsible for the actions of a few who may (or in this case, may not) look like them.

Singh

The conversations that ensued on both men’s timelines in the days following Singh’s response were fascinating.

Most of the people coming to Carr’s defense implied that everyone has racist or stereotyping thoughts. And that’s probably true. Growing up in a racist society, surrounded by racist images and media is going to do that to us, to some degree.

The difference lies in the fact that Carr chose not to counter that thought in his own mind, instead he broadcast it publicly. When I have a racist or generalizing thought, I make an active choice to counter that thought in my mind. For instance, it would’ve been good if Carr had said to himself, “That’s absurd. Obviously these guys aren’t terrorists. This is the media’s influence.”

Instead, he realized he’d get a laugh from his followers for his racist thought, so he shared it, unchecked.

It’s in the sharing that you go from having a racist thought to actively promoting racism.

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That’s why my hat’s off to Singh.

Maybe he got through to Carr a little bit. At least enough that maybe the young man will think twice before broadcasting his unsavory and caveman-like thoughts. He probably knows he was out-smarted and it didn’t take a lecture or a Twitter fight to convince him.

Here’s to peace.

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About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is the type of working mom who opens her car door and junk spills out all over the ground. She serves as Executive Editor of The Good Men Project and is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on sites like xoJane, hlntv.com, and The Huffington Post. Joanna loves playing with her sons, skateboarding with her husband, and hanging out with friends. Her dream is to someday finish her almost-done novel and get some sleep. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.

Comments

  1. wellokaythen says:

    So much ignorance in the original tweet that I don’t know where to begin. Here’s two of many possible points:

    1. Most turban-wearing men you will encounter on an airline are Sikhs, not Muslims. Sikhism and Islam are distantly related (sort of) but not anywhere near the same thing. So, even if your racist paranoia about Muslims being terrorists was okay, well, the guy with the turban is not a Muslim anyway.

    2. On a related note, statistically speaking Sikh men are far more law abiding than the average American male. You are actually safer on a plane full of Sikhs than you are on a plane full of men without turbans. You should feel relief that he’s wearing a turban. Someone out there can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think in the history of skyjacking anyone wearing a turban has ever hijacked a plane.

    Extra point: How do you know that the guy in the turban isn’t a Federal sky marshal?

  2. Sure, you have every right to feel uncomfortable, but that discomfort is your problem, no one else’s. What are you going to do about it, ask him to be removed because you don’t like his choice in headwear? We’re all uncomfortable on airplanes, for all kinds of reasons. Get in line. Or grow up.

  3. Not too long ago I saw a tweet in my timeline about Bill Maher that I disagreed with. Of course, being the big mouth that I am (at least on twitter), I had to respond. I really didn’t think that it would go anywhere. Next thing you know I’m getting angry tweet after angry tweet from her. As it turned out, we talked things through and now things are good between us. I think. Sadly, in the end I think she may have been right.

  4. ogwriter says:

    Interesting post Joanna.Fortunately,we are far enough removed from 9/11 so that this conversation can be had out in the open.The more I learn about world history,the more I am on the fence about how to assign responsibility for the systems of colonialism ,imperialism,religion and economics that shaped the world we live in today. It is complex web of involvement.On the one hand we have little problem believing ,at the very least ,that the German people allowed themselves-were complicit- to be swept up into Hitler’s fury. On the other we have failed miserably to be responsible for our own racial mess.Unfortunately,most do not know history nor do they dig deep enough to search for the truths. Long before Hitler’s march across Europe began the German people got caught up in a wave of race based nationalism,setting the stage for the first German caused holocaust in Namib.We should not forget that the Berlin Conference extended colonialism to ts logical conclusion,imperialism.In Europe and America white power, entitled by race based superiority and defined by its leading voices, took hold around the world.Rudyard Kipling’s White mans Burden put into words exactly what the racial caste system was.Manifest Destiny did quite the same thing for American whites,placing them at the head of the franchise. And,of course,the Constitution legalized race,class and gender hierarchies. Spiritually,intellectually,economically and institutionally,white power based upon the idea that whites were superior ,swept across the world.Many average whites around the world,even though the system oppressed them also, accepted and approved at the ballot box thousands of policies at the local,state and federal levels that discriminated against people of color and others.A quick example.My son recently became a firefighter in Oakland,Ca.During the graduation ceremonies,it became clear that there is quite a long history of nepotism in the fire and police departments.For decades these solid middle class jobs were the exclusive province of whites males.This system of discrimination was held in place by the common man who felt entitled through race to those jobs.Ironically,these same guys were among the first to sue for reverse discrimination.

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