Among the ‘humor’ in the most recent Hegemonocle was an article called “Macalester Students Crave More Diversity In Bed.” The intent, some say, was to bring light to the lack of men of color on this campus. The writer chose to do this by reducing men of color to objects of female desire, and furthermore, dehumanized them by referring to them and their anatomy as food items, such as ‘spicy chorizo’ and ‘cocoa puffs’.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines satire as ‘trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly’. If the piece indeed seeks to highlight the lack of men of color on this campus as an issue, then satire is definitely an effective means of doing so. This piece, however, was not effective, as it commented on this problem at the expense of the group it chose to highlight. The words used to describe men of color were clearly chosen to elicit reactions. It is almost written as if to say, “no one actually believes these things, so, we can say them,” but people do, and that is what makes this writing dangerous. By attempting to write about reductive racial stereotypes in a humorous way, articles like these give people license to find humor in these issues where there is none. There is no humor in something that hurts people, or reduces them to sub-human levels.
In addition, this piece, rather than portraying men of color to be an important part of this campus because of the intellect and perspective they bring to the student body, reduces the role of male diversity to providing sexual pleasure for the women on this campus. It merely adds, in a cheap way, to the exotification of men of color.
In addition, one of the quoted “students” claims to be disappointed in the “lack of males at Macalester immersed in the hip-hop culture.” In this sense, the author reduces black males to two things: sex and hip-hop. These stereotypes have real effects that directly pertain to the students of color on this campus. Simplifying black males’ contributions to that of only music and sex delegitimizes their worth.
Furthermore, the author claims to quote a “disenchanted freshman” who states, “All we got is Oreos up in dis place.” Not only are black people reduced to food yet again, but here they are viewed as somehow inauthentic: black on the outside, but white on the inside. Our experiences and expressions of our identities, and those of other students of color, are not for others to define. They are not illegitimate or inauthentic, and they are most definitely not up for consumption. Making a mockery of students of color does nothing to accomplish a more diverse student body; rather it serves merely to delegitimize real experiences. Our experiences.
The sad thing is that there are not enough people that will be upset by this piece. The number of students of color on this campus has been decreasing over the time that we have been here. This means, to a certain extent, that issues important to communities of color are not as visible on campus, which allow pieces like this to be written. This piece is an example of ironic racism, which is basically joking about racism/potentially racist things in a ‘humorous’ way that, perhaps unintentionally, is still racist.
We will give the author the benefit of the doubt that he/she did not intend to be overtly offensive, but the fact still remains that it was. To those who might tell us to lighten up, and that it was just a joke, we respond that our identities and our races are not something to joke about. These identities belong to people, and are not game for manipulation.
Written by the Black Liberation Affairs Committe Executive Board *Perhaps we got it all wrong, and the Hegemonocle piece wasn’t drawing attention to the lack of men of color on campus. No matter. If you don’t know, now you know. Knowledge is power, people. **All the above still applies. ***For more information read “A Complete Guide to ‘Hipster Racism’” by Lindy West.