Friday, October 3, 2008

escape having jokes told about them

I'm not writing today to share jokes with you (though I will do that); I'm writing about jokes. "White" jokes, that is. Trouble is, I can't think of any, and they're difficult to find.

One "take-a-break" web site has this "white-people" joke, which attempts to explain the difficulty of finding other jokes like itself:

Why is it so hard to find racist white jokes?

Cause being white is bad enough already.

You've probably heard jokes about black people, and Chinese people, and about "Mexicans" and other particular groups of non-white people. You've probably also heard jokes about women, and about gay people, and about "fat" people, and maybe even about "skinny" people.

But how many jokes have you listened to a friend or co-worker tell you about just plain "white" people? Maybe a lot of them are out there, and people just aren't telling them to me because I'm white.

Non-white comedians often tell jokes about white people (and that no-longer-with-us white guy George Carlin even did it, at least once). But I'm talking about the kinds of jokes that ordinary people tell each other, "screw-in-a-lightbulb" jokes, or "walk-into-a-bar" jokes. I doubt you've heard many jokes of that sort about "white" people--at least, I haven't, and they're hard to find with The Google. Why is that?

A lot of white people tell "ethnic" jokes to each other. As Carlos Mencia points out, "You white people love ethnic jokes. You just don't like laughing in public when the ethnic people are watching you."

Do non-white people tell jokes about white people when white people aren't watching them? Well, if they do, I would think The Google could find them.

Now, I'm not talking about jokes about certain kinds of white people. It's true that "Dumb blond" jokes are jokes about white people, as are jokes about "white trash," or Polish people, or Irish people. However, those are not jokes about all white people, in the same sense that "black people/n-word" jokes or "Mexican" jokes usually are jokes about all the people in those groups (or sometimes, all the men or all the women in those groups).

Actually, one problem here may be that simply "white" people don't really exist. If you look closely at any white person, you'll see that they're more accurately classifiable as a certain kind of white person--middle class, Midwestern, MILF, New Yorker, rich, jock, soccer mom, hockey mom, blue collar worker, or Joe Sixpack (not to be confused with Joe Camel, who was, you know, a camel--but maybe a white camel?).

But then, a close, careful look at people in other groups reveals that that's true about them too. All sort of different black, or Arab American, or Native American people exist, and "Asian American" is an incredibly diverse category. So if that's true, then why are there so many jokes that homogenize the members of non-white groups, but so few jokes that do the same with white people?

Actually, my skillful manipulations of The Google Machine did turn up a few "white" jokes that don't seem to be "some type of white person" jokes. I've included a few examples below.

Do they work for you? And again, maybe many "white" jokes exist, but I just haven't heard them--do you know of any others?

How many white people does it take to change a light bulb?

Zero--they pay a minority person to change it for them.


A man goes into an emergency room with two black eyes and a five iron wrapped tightly around his neck. Naturally, the doctor asks what happened to him.

"Well, it pretty much goes like this," said the man. "I was having a quiet round of golf with my dear wife, when she sliced her ball into a pasture of cows.

"We went to look for it, and while I was rooting around I noticed one of the cows had something white at its rear end. I walked over and lifted up the tail, and sure enough, there was my wife's golf ball. . . stuck right in the middle of the cow's butt. That's when I made my mistake."

"What did you do?" asks the doctor.

"Well, I lifted the tail and yelled to my wife, 'Holy cow, Edna, this looks like yours!'"


There's a black guy, white guy, Asian guy and a Hispanic guy. They climb a gigantic mountain.

When they get to the top the Asian man jumps off and says, "This is for my people!"

The Hispanic man jumps off too, screaming, "This is for my people!"

The black man throws the white man off the mountain and says, "This is for MY people!"


  1. Well.. you stated the reason yourself.
    ALL Blacks are considered N******.
    ALL Hispanics/Latinos are considered Mexican, Wet Back, Spick etc. ... ..
    White epithets are usually ; Hill-Billy, Red Neck, Polock, Hebe, Kraut, etc. ... . See, the discription is of a certain type of white. The fact that I can type the terms (but not "N*****") is also odd.

  2. I don't know if I should feel bad about not feeling bad about laughing out loud at the last joke in your list.

  3. Do non-white people tell jokes about white people when white people aren't watching them?

    Yes, or at least in my circle.

    (The jokes that we make when white people aren't watching are very similar to Stuff White People Like jokes.)

    Well, if they do, I would think The Google could find them.

    Why would you assume this?

    Is it easy to find non-white writings on the Internet by Googling? Do non-white people assume that white people don't have access to the internet?

    (I didn't want to comment here anymore, but I couldn't resist answering this.)

  4. I like the last one.

    Sounds very similar to what I heard when I was a student: "there is so-called inclusive black culture but there is no inclusive white culture as they are more classified into specific groups of white people."

    Rap music - Black culture (simple: this is probably a common recognition, but old black people may not be listening to those rap music as much as younger ones.)

    Country music - White culture? (well, this may not be as common a recognition as the above. Many people would say country music is more southern)

    If rap music is black culture, what is a music of white culture? Classical music? Yes, but it is not recognized as raced culture. It may be a western, or even "universal" culture while it in reality is just music sprung from a certain kind of people; and thir skin color is always white.

  5. Indo-Canadian Russell Peter's jokes about white people are similar to the jokes and observations my friends and I make about white people, except Russell Peters tells it way better:

    Russell Peters - Beating Your Kids


  6. Here's a joke about white people I got as an e-mail forward years ago:

    Dear Mzungu - dear white man!!!

    Did you guys get this forward too? An "ethnic white" forwarded it to me.

  7. Thanks, Restructure, for posting that Russell Peter's video. He is very, very funny.

  8. Yes, uglyblackjohn, that difference in typability IS odd . . .

    mr. noface, I don't feel bad about your not being sure if you should feel bad about not feeling bad about laughing out loud at that last joke. I myself didn't feel bad about laughing at it. Not TOO bad, anyway.

    Hello Daisuke, and thanks for the input. "Classical music" does seem like white music, though a lot of non-white people around the world like it too. And if it is a "white music," it still is, as I think you're saying, a music mostly enjoyed by a certain subset of white folks.

    Thanks x 2 for those links, Restructure. I love Russell Peters.

    You asked:

    Well, if they do, I would think The Google could find them.

    Why would you assume this?

    Is it easy to find non-white writings on the Internet by Googling? Do non-white people assume that white people don't have access to the internet?

    I would think that jokes about white people by non-white people would be easy to find because, to answer your second question, yes, non-white writings ARE easy to find on the Internet by Googling. And so, since "ethnic" jokes that whites often tell each other are easy to find that way, I would think that jokes non-white people tell each other about "just-plain-white" people would also be easy to find. But for me, they weren't, and I decided that may be because there just aren't many "just-plain-white" jokes out there, because as UBJ and Daisuke note above, whiteness is usually segmented into certain types of whites, and this seems to be another example of that. But maybe, in the case of jokes, I'm wrong about that.

    To answer your last question, I don't know what non-white people assume about white people's access to the Internet, but I for one assume that large numbers of non-white people do have access to it. Again, there's a ton of writing on the Internet by non-white people. But if that writing includes a lot of jokes passed from person to person about "just-plain-white people," I haven't found them yet. Again, maybe they are out there in copious quantities, which I've yet to find because my manipulations of The Google Machine are not as praiseworthy as I like to think. Maybe non-white people often do homogenize white people in their jokes about them, just as white people often do in their jokes about non-white people. If so, maybe it's an exception to the "rule" of sorts about whiteness explained and illustrated above by uglyblackjohn and Daisuke K.

  9. I'd like to suggest that white is the basis of comparison to nonwhite people, but jokes about white people are made with subsets of white people like redneck, hill-billy, hick, probably because there's no racial basis of comparison among white people.

    This also points out that whiteness is treated as normal, universal.

    I tend to make jokes about white people with my white friends of mine using the travesties white people have cause people of color. Sort of like a conscience-raising tool.

    Since were on jokes, when white people say racist or ethnic jokes a good comeback if you catch them off guard is "Did you you learn that one from the clan?"

    Joe Feagin's work might give some insights into the nature of jokes and the prevalence that white people share the jokes with each other. I believe he called it two-faced racism. I can't remember, I learned about his work back in April at the White Privilege Conference. Which I strongly suggest anti-racist activists go to!

  10. I would think that jokes about white people by non-white people would be easy to find because, to answer your second question, yes, non-white writings ARE easy to find on the Internet by Googling.

    Sorry, I forgot that most white people see more people of colour on the internet than in real life. The internet is pretty white to me, and I do not see many views of people of colour on the internet that reflect the full range of diverse views of people of colour in real life. We have different definitions of what is "easy" and what counts as "many". I think that people of colour are underrepresented on the internet, but perhaps you think that we are overrepresented or proportional?

    I asked if non-whites assume that whites don't have internet access as a rhetorical question. I see lots of racist jokes and discussion about non-white people on the internet, as if nobody reading these writings could be non-white. I would never hear these kinds of discussions in real life, because of obvious reasons. My point is that non-white people do NOT assume that whites don't have internet access, unlike the case with many whites.

    I disagree with your term "homogenize", but I think convincing you of anything is futile, so I will leave it and that and offer you this link. (I think some of those are racist against non-white people, though.)

    I think you're being stupid again, and I'm going to stop commenting again.

  11. just because you couldn't find them doesn't mean that they don't exist.
    You try to equalize jokes when in reality this is not possible I think.
    Jokes about oppressed groups use stereotypes.
    "Light-bulb jokes" and "Blonde-jokes" etc also work with stereotypes and I am quite sure that whites created them to make fun of certain groups of their own people because whites seem to be addicted to look down on everybody else and to create stereotypes about as many groups as possible.

    Jokes about whites quite often have a true message about the oppressor and humor can also be a way to deal with a reality which isn't so funny. Such jokes or humor aren't meant to be known by the oppressor but can function as some sort of survival strategy for people who are oppressed.
    I think that you try to address this topic in a quite superficial way.

  12. I like that line about the Klan, social justice communicator. And I too have been to the WPC, and I strongly agree with your recommendation.

    Restructure and jw, thank you for stopping by to deliver more hot, steaming piles of your gargantuan intelligence and deeply non-superficial wisdom.

  13. and because of my excellent yahoo-skills, lol, I have one for you, a light-bulb joke:

    How many whites does it take to change a light bulb?
    None - whites hate being enlightened.

  14. macon d said:

    Restructure and jw, thank you for stopping by to deliver more hot, steaming piles of your gargantuan intelligence and deeply non-superficial wisdom.

    Just ignore them, macon d. Most of the time I do, for the majority of their comments are boringly and academically written, and full of bitterness and hatred and statistics.

    And what a drama queen that Restructure is! Just leave if you don't like this blog and/or the blogger. There is no need for you to declare that you are going. Is macon d holding a gun to her head, forcing you to post comments here? There are millions of blogs in the blogoworld where you can go that will fit you perfectly: Go find one. Go and find the perfect white anti-racist blogger whom you think macon d is not being, and go post comments on that person's blog. But, I don't think you will stay away from here, because you and your other two partners (jw and Nquest) are bullies who need macon d, or a white boy like him, to gang up on, so that you can get your fix to satisfy your 1,000 to 3,000 word count jones.

  15. Redcat,

    Why is my name in your mouth?

    "Boringly and academically written..."

    Now that's funny...

  16. I kinda liked this post, especially the last joke.

    PoC do make tons of White people jokes, but in my personal experience, I find they tend to joke about the crazy things they see White people do. "Piercing their testicles! Oh, crazy Whitey!" That kinda thing; they're not usually decorated with punch-lines and stuff. I'm gonna admit that it was fairly common in my household: until my Dad found his father, consequently finding out that we're all part Scottish and put an end to the White jokes ("Kids, you can't make fun of White people anymore; they're in our family!").

    But you know, that's just the ones I've heard in person not counting stand-up.

  17. A friend told me about another kind of "white people" joke last night. Apparently they're called something like "without us" jokes. Here's the only one my friend could remember--anyone else heard of these?

    White person A: "What would sociology be called without us?"

    White person B: "Um, I give up."

    White person A: "Anthropology."

    There's probably a better way to tell these. I'm not good at creating new jokes, but it might not be too difficult to make new ones of this sort. . .

  18. Here's one: Why do white people tell black jokes? Because they're too cowardly to set a cross on fire, too lazy to learn to wield a whip, and too cheap to cut out arm-holes in a brand new white sheet.

    Copyright, ME.

    For the record, I'm half and half, so I know that whites are not all racist. Just ones who tell black jokes.

    My mother was recently sent a very racist Obama joke from a white friend (my mother is black, father is white) and she wondered why you don't hear that many racist white jokes. So I made one up for her. Except that only racists will find it offensive, so I still get to sleep at night.

    And thank you for being so cool and open-minded about the whole thing. It's very refreshing. When I stumbled across this blog I expected to find some kind of racist manifesto or something, and I really didn't feel like being too sick to my stomach over it to eat dinner tonight.

    It's rare and inspiring to find a place on the internet where racial issues can be discussed with respect and intelligence. Turns out that this site is just what I needed to be reminded that I'm not the only person in the world who can laugh at both sides. Thanks.

  19. okok I got one for ya (courtesy of Paul Mooney):

    A white woman is making a chocolate cake for her family, when her little son grabs some batter and smears it on his face.

    "Look, mommy! I'm black!" He says.

    Of course the mother is appalled and slaps him in the face.

    "Billy, that's terrible. You go show your father what you did."

    So Billy goes to show his dad - when his father sees him in improvised blackface he naturally shits a brick and gives him five across the eyes:

    "Billy! That's absolutely disgusting. You go speak to your grandfather about this."

    So Billy goes to show grandpa: "Look, grandpa! I'm black!" And gets the same reaction from grandad as well.

    So with an aching jaw, Billy returns to the kitchen. His mother sits him down and says,

    "Now Billy - what did you learn?"

    And Billy says,

    "I've learned that I've only been black for five minutes and I already hate you white people."

  20. I started looking for "white" jokes told by black people because I get so many racist jokes that I wanted to send something equally offensive back. I think the reason white people have so many qualifying labels fo white people (Polish, Italian, red-neck, etc.) is to distinguish those people from themselves and their white friends. When using color as the distinguishing factor, it is much easier to lump everyone of one color into one group, and be excluded yourself. I am often offended by women jokes yet laugh at men jokes...everyone needs someone "below" them to make them feel better. I wonder if how badly you dislike yourself determines how much you dislike others. When you meet people one-on-one it is much more likely that you will find they have more in common with you than the one big difference (color, nationality, religion) that you "hate" them for.


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