Alex Barnett, a New York-based comedian married to a beautiful be-afro’d woman named Camille, had a son, Ivan, six months ago. I just found out about this encounter on his blog. I love his attitude and how he’s processing the situation, but those thing still enrages me.
by Alex Barnett
For those who were â€œworriedâ€ that racism is a thing of the past. Never fear! Racism is alive and well.
My wife and I are an interracial couple, and we have a 6-month old, Biracial son. By and large, race isnâ€™t a part of our lives. What is a part of our lives is trying to get our son to take a nap.
But race still is there. Sheâ€™s Black. Iâ€™m White. And, our son is in the middle â€” kinda gray or beige or only half-cool (depending on the joke youâ€™re trying to make).
Most times, we can handle the race issues. They come not from places of outright hatred or malevolence but from either lack of sensitivity or a lack of knowledge. For example, my wife who is brown-skinned and has an afro is frequently asked whether our son (who is light-skinned) is â€œhersâ€ (the implication being that sheâ€™s the nanny). But as hurtful as these comments can be, we donâ€™t think people ask this to be mean.
On the other hand, once in a blue moon, we encounter some real, down-home, Jim Crow-era racism. In fact, I just had an encounter this weekend.
I was performing at a show, and I mentioned that when my wife and I were buying cribs we thought one crib looked a bit like a â€œcage.â€ Without missing a beat, a man in the audience said, that our son would be a â€œcaged monkey.â€
A CAGED MONKEY!!
For those wondering, I didnâ€™t say anything in response. I thought of it, but then I decided against it, figuring that: well, I donâ€™t have to live with that guy, but heâ€™s got to spend the rest of his life living with himself.
But, his comment was racist and offensive and insulting to me, not only as a person of conscience, but because Iâ€™m my sonâ€™s Dad, and I donâ€™t like people talking about my family, particularly my son.
So, in hindsight, here are a couple of responses I thought up, which I couldâ€™ve (or perhaps shouldâ€™ve used):
1. Interesting, so I take it that during the just ended Black History Month you were no doubt commemorating slavery. Perhaps next month you can celebrate the genocide of Native Americans.
2. Sir, youâ€™ll have to repeat that. Iâ€™m having a hard time hearing you because of your lack of teeth.
3. Iâ€™m sorry. Did you know that â€œDeliveranceâ€ was a movie and not a lifestyle choice.
4. Whatever. Obamaâ€™s still President. Get over yourself.
5. Thatâ€™s very clever sir. Howâ€™d you like to come to my show on March 8 in Harlem and repeat that for the home audience?
6. Thank you for answering the question: â€œGuess whether Iâ€™m a drunk asshole?â€
7. If you could count to 20 and then repeat that, Iâ€™d greatly appreciate it. Yes, thatâ€™s fine, you can take off your shoes and socks to make sure you count correctly.
8. Very cute. Almost as cute as your sister-wife with her 6 fingers, blue skin and webbed feet.
9. I donâ€™t know for sure if Jesus was Black. But if he was, when he comes back I think youâ€™re in trouble.
10. Thank you sir for illustrating that racism is alive and well. If you would just go with that large Black man who is now standing directly behind you. He will take you out back to show you what youâ€™ve won.