There is a very fine line between being funny and being ignorant. Trust me I tight rope that line every day, but the one thing I remind myself of before I post, tweet or speak anything in public is this:
“What are the long term effects of me saying or writing this?”
I give you the case of Miami radio personality Enrique Santos who thought it would be funny to show up at Sammy Sosa’s birthday party in “brownface”.
The entire story is here: DJ draws ire for Sosa stunt
Now everyone has had their fun with Sammy Sosa. You are an easy target when a couple of months ago you were looking like a “young Michael Jackson” and then you show up at an event looking like “Old Michael Jackson”. Everyone took their shots and moved on.
Mr. Santos though took it to another level. First off this was a private event and secondly right or wrong there is a big difference in public reaction when someone goes from being dark to light to light to dark.
For very good reason, unless you have blinders on you know in our sociery being “light” especially as a person of color is looked upon different than being “dark”. The premise of it is absurd because how dark or light you are shouldn’t matter because we are all the same on the inside but just to have the boldness to walk into a public place and even as a joke trying to pass yourself off as a “black or darker brown” man (Santos is Hispanic) is asinine and stupid.
It hasn’t been that many years since Hollywood was featuring movies in “blackface”. On Halloween there are still people who think it is cool for white people to dress up as “Gangsters” in black face with fake gold chains and teeth.
I am sure Mr. Santos’ intentions were to just be funny and have a good laugh at Sosa’s expense, but the fact of the matter is these types of acts go way beyond Mr. Santos and reach to a “bubbling” race divide that is still very prevalent within our country.
The is a deep rooted stereotype that “lighter” is better in regards to anyone of color and anyone making fun of being “brown or black” even in an innocent way is not funny.
I am always aware when people are laughing at things like this what is the exactly laughing for? Sure some are laughing at the intended “gag”, but trust me when I tell you some are not.
In the end Santos got what he wanted out of this. Some publicity for himself and his radio show, but it is his ignorance of the situation which is disappointing.
Because someone, somewhere is thinking “making fun of a brown man” is ok.
In reality it’s not.