Movie Friday: W. Kamau Bell

A lot of the discussion about racism is nuanced and requires not so much a list of “dos and don’ts” but a general approach that requires consciousness raising about issues that may fall outside your personal experience. There will never be a specific pattern of behaviours that makes someone a ‘non-racist’ or is foolproof in making sure that you will never offend anybody. Anyone searching for something resembling that is on a Quixotic snark hunt.

Then again, there are some things that are pretty clear cut:

The comedian, W. Kamau Bell, is a recent discovery for me but I’m loving his approach to examining racial issues through insightful critique and pedagogy rather than the tried and true (but, in my opinion, played out) method of comparing the way that whites and blacks drive and dance. He has a new show on FX called “Totally Biased”, produced by another legend of comedy, Chris Rock. It’s set to debut in August, so keep an eye out for that.

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  1. m5 says

    I’m white and when I had a buzz cutt, girls asked to feel it all the time, and same when I had a mohawk. From my position of privilege it never would have occurred to me that it would be an issue for black people. Very glad I found out before I had a chance to embarrass myself. Although now that I’m thinking about it, I think some black friends and I compared hair-feel in kindergarten or grade one or something, but I don’t think that counts.

  2. says

    My mom and her family were some of the first white kids in a newly integrated school that had been for black kids, so she had her hair touched a lot then. But that was it, plus they were kids. White people don’t spend our whole lives having people exotify our hair unless we choose to do an unusual hairstyle.

    Anyway, I wonder if I should be ashamed to admit how hilarious I find that video, because of the exaggerated “is this what you think black people are like?” skit for the second question. That video is on point, maybe I will watch more of this guy.

  3. Lurker111 says

    Okay, I’ll admit that for a long time I thought black folks with braids had to undo the braids before washing their hair and then redoing the braids afterward.

  4. 'Tis Himself says

    Actually I’ve known for years how Black people wash their hair. When I was in the Navy going through Nuclear Power School I lived with several Black men. We had a communal shower and quite often we’d wash our hair. I’ve seen Black men wash their hair. I’ve also seen Latino, Asian and White men wash their hair. We all do it the same way.

  5. Thomas Schratwieser says

    Hey, long-time lurker, first-time commenter, and all that.

    Just wanted to thank you for pointing me towards Bell’s work; I’ve since gone through his entire YouTube playlist. He’s absolutely brilliant.

    Also just wanted to say I really enjoy your blog. Cheers!

  6. leni says

    That was hilarious 🙂 So glad it never occurred to me to ask either.

    Although I did once get reamed out for asking a black guy what he thought about Chris Rock. I’ve been afraid of mentioning Chris Rock for like, 10 years now.

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