Black Jeopardy

Published March 31, 2014 by Sandee

I hate that SNL “Black Jeopardy” skit. Why do people perpetuate stereotypes of themselves? I saw an Asian comedian go along with the idea that they are bad drivers, and do a parody of himself by squinting his eyes. White comedians happily go along with the myth that they can’t dance. These examples aren’t true for all of the people in these respective groups, but some people embrace these traits as a mainstream way of identifying themselves.

This comedy is lazy and perpetuates stupidity. And black people definitely get the short end of the stick in stereotypes. But I don’t mind a dig in the area of a stereotype if it’s clever. Maybe black people embrace stereotypes more readily, because for the most part our national identify began in the American South during slavery, so when we perpetuate the stereotype ourselves, it might help us feel more connected, by unifying our identity. I am not ashamed of my history, but you have to be clever about making a parody out of this culture.

There is a lot to imply that black people are stupid in that SNL “Black Jeopardy” skit. The comedians in it joke that we only have $20 in our bank accounts. The skit also illustrates that we don’t respect that we should speak the language properly. Kenan Thompson and Sasheer Zamata, who participated in this skit, help undermine the culture. This lays groundwork for younger black people who don’t have strong role models to use this as an example.

When you portray these ideas in the media, they get branded into our brains. And the stereotype in some cases becomes actualized.

I rarely use the word racist. Of course black people should continue to fight injustice, etc. But while I know that racism coming from the group that holds more power is more pernicious, I think everyone is racist. If black people want to control racism, we need to admit when we’re being racist, and promote the same values we want white people to have. And we need to stop playing tit for tat, that game of, ‘They do it to us, so we should do it to them’.

I’ve seen a few stupid and racist black stand-up comedians. That Wayans Brothers movie, “White Girls” was racist. Too bad, because I think the Wayans Brothers are funny and talented. Nick Cannon doing “white face” was racist. It all illustrates a double standard. Why should some white people stop doing what they’re doing when they insult us, when we do the same thing?

We should all have the balls to stand up for the qualities of decency and mutual respect.

I don’t fling my racism accusations around loosely. But, SNL is racist. I enjoyed SNL for years. The talent on the show was brilliant. I didn’t care that there were few black people on the show. I close myself off from the world when I don’t partake of something just because there aren’t any black people involved. It’s dumb.

However, when I saw that almost half of their negative reports on that comedic news segment included black celebrities, while there were only a couple of black people on the show, it didn’t sit right with me. Then I had read how Ellen Cleghorne, one of the few black women on the show, had problems with the white cast, and it made me uncomfortable, though I don’t know the story behind it. There were also other skits that didn’t portray black people positively.

I can take a joke and laugh at myself. I have heard white comedians make fun of black people and have laughed, but I began to see SNL in a different light after this, and stopped watching it. It’s not funny anymore to me anyway.

Now in the media, SNL made this huge deal about hiring this black woman, the first one since Ellen Cleghorne, in over two decades. Sasheer Zamata wasn’t even funny to me, by the way. She’s in that horrible “Stepin Fetchit” styled spoof on “Black Jeopardy.” Thanks for taking it back 100 years SNL. I don’t know why Kenan Thompson and Sasheer Zamata would even “co-sign” on this bullshit.

I know several black doctors. I know black scientists, stockbrokers, RNs, business owners, lawyers, homeowners. The first millionaire I ever met was black. Have any of you heard of The Black Wall Street in Oklahoma? While I’m no great proponent of capitalism, I do want to celebrate intellectual power.

I’m tired of seeing the athlete, musician, and singer/celebrity held up as a role model in the black community. Why not the scientist or mathematician? My nephew is in a minority of black kids in his class and his teacher says that he excels in math. His father is an engineer. And though he’s from sub-Sahara Africa, he doesn’t like it when it’s too hot. So that blows that stereotype out of the water.

Why can’t we embrace this instead of embracing big dicks and dancing. I know white people who dance much better than blacks, and I know first hand that all black men don’t have big dicks. It’s a myth. I think it’s dumb to embrace these stereotypes. ‘Yeah, I have a big dick and I can dance, but I can barely read and don’t have any money in the bank.’ It’s also mythology that we can’t swim, and that we all like watermelon and fried chicken. But thanks to the SNL skit, we can all help to keep these myths alive.

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26 comments on “Black Jeopardy

  • Amen. I haven’t seen that SNL skit, but I gave up on that show a couple years ago. My boys and I watched it at times, but some of the skits were so sexist or racist, it was uncomfortable to watch it with them. Plus, they got tired of me pointing out the inappropriateness of the skits (hey, teachable moments; kids love them–NOT). They don’t miss the show, and neither do I. I think it’s okay to push the envelope, but as you mention, do it cleverly–not stereotypically.

    On the other hand, I love Paul Rudd. So if he’s hosting, I’ll usually check it out. 🙂

    • It’s disappointing to me that I can’t appreciate SNL anymore. They were really ahead of their time in sketch comedy. I learn a lot from the art of what they do.

      Yes — Paul Rudd — we’re on the same wave length — I just watched two of his movies, “This is Forty,” and “Our Idiot Brother.” He really has something special. I might drop in on SNL if he’s on as well!

  • i haven’t watched them in years. Don’t enjoy their stuff. (I really liked Mad TV) Their skits are too long. I believe they are over rated. I didn’t even realize there was no black actress on. I do agree with you whole heatedly. Most of these shows on tv are. Do you remember when Gabrielle Union made a guess appearance on Friends and everyone made a big deal about it because she was the first black person on. What the heck? I thought that was so racist. Forget them and their narrow minded writers.

    • I do think it’s a shame when people make a big deal of out of a black person appearing on a show. If you didn’t make such a big deal out of it, it would be considered more natural.

      I listened to an interview with the lead actor from Night of the Living Dead, 1968. Back then it was radical that a black male was the protagonist. But in the interview he was kind of nonchalant about it, which I thought was cool. George Romero just thought he was the best man for the part.

    • Uh oh Stacie! I feel for you — hahaha! I used to really love hip hop, but these days it is definitely degraded. Some of the rappers use racist and sexist lyrics. A lot of the hip hop lyrics these days are just plain stupid if you ask me. It’s not the way it was 15-20 years ago.

      Thanks for chiming in GG!

  • Well said missus! Being a Brit I’m not familiar with these shows, but mutual respect and being able to admit your own prejudices, valid or otherwise, goes a long way in creating a happier, more accepting society.

    So much comedy nowadays relies on cruelty and pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in order to be perceived as being ‘edgy’ and ‘out there’. Ricky Gervais does this in his stand up and shows like ‘Derek’ but i just think he’s a nasty, prejudiced, low blow hitting twat and means everything he says. Little Britain also went too far a lot of the time and like you say, the ultimate cardinal sin was that it wasn’t even funny! We also have a comedian (allegedly) called Frankie Boyle who says appalling things about some very vulnerable people, and I think without those ‘fish in a barrel’ he’d have very little to play with indeed.

    Talent not targets, that’s what I say and if you can’t be funny without mocking someone, maybe you should get a new job.

    • I always wondered about Ricky Gervais’ comedy. I haven’t seen it but what you describe sounds like what a couple of comedians are shooting for with the politically incorrect type comedy. I must admit that when it works I find it refreshing, but then, as you say, there are some who don’t quite have the ‘art’ of it who come off rather mean. There’s a fine line. I used to like Lisa Lampanelli who’s one of the politically incorrect comedians, but after while I began to say “Hey…that’s…not, really funny.” Hahahaha!

  • what can I say? as usual, you’re right on point, as for ricky gervais, the twit is as funny as that boil on my butt (sorry about the ‘graphic’ description of my backside)

  • I haven’t watched SNL in a long time, Sandee, but I’m glad I missed this skit. You raise a lot of good points. The myths perpetuate as people insist on repeating them in media and elsewhere. I think we’re all a lot smarter than the media gives us credit for. Like you, I’m pretty tired of the stereotypes. Great post!

  • Ha! So your brother in law doesn’t like heat either, eh? If I had a loonie for every time people say to me, “you’re Colombian and you don’t like heat?” Gaaaaaaaaaaaah

    I was watching a Bing Crosby movie the other day. I love Bing. And Louis Armstrong was billed too! I sat down for a marvelous evening. Or so I thought. I was waiting and waiting for Louis to come out and when he finally did, the lines they made him say… I was horrified. All the musicians in the bad were black, and they were “of course” all dumb and dishonest. I couldn’t even keep watching after that.

    • Yeah I guess some people just cared about getting paid without any awareness or consciousness about what they’re actually doing, which is helping to validate certain negative images.

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