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George Takei on Tim Hardaway

This clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live shows a mock public service announcement by gay Japanese American actor George Takei in response to the homophobic remarks made by ex-NBA star Tim Hardaway.

I initially thought the clip was quite funny until Takei made reference to Hardaway's "smooth chocolaty head." And then I wondered. Is this still funny?

I wondered if, in this context, Takei's remark was racist. I wondered if the skit would have been just as effective had no reference been made to Hardaway's skin color. As well, I wondered if Takei was somehow confronting a homophobia specific to African American heterosexual men by employing a messy strategy of fighting one form of discrimination (homophobia) with another (racism).

Does Takei's comedic sketch touch upon an ugly societal truth that holds the notion that it is somehow less offensive for a gay person of color to make a racist remark than it is for a straight white person?

One thing I am sure about is that whenever I hear any reference to skin color, the complex question of what racism is emerges inevitably in my consciousness.


dan said...

I define racism as power/privelage plus predjudice - so in that regard only white people can be racist. People of color can have predjudices but cannot be racist because they do not have the power/privelage. His remark was perhaps predjudice, and wrong...

kerrick said...

I think it's not the case that only white people can be racist; I think it's that it's not possible for white people to be the victims of racism. The power structure of racism is designed to benefit white people, but it's possible for people of color to use it against each other. (Some people call this "crabs in a barrel" after the way crabs in a barrel will climb on top of one another to try to get out.) Particularly when one is Asian American and relatively privileged, and using the racialization of an African American person's skin as a weapon against him.

It's wrong to use racism as a weapon against homophobia, and it doesn't work.