Days have passed, but I can’t seem to shake comedian Chelsea Handler’s offensive comments during this year’s Oscars. Not only her comments, but the divide in our society in general.
Huffington Post occasionally invites celebrities to live tweet from their account (making it clear that those published updates are views of the celebs alone) and on Sunday, passed it over to Handler. Here’s what she said about the Oscar’s Best Supporting Actress winner, Lupita Nyong’o: “#AngelinaJolie just filed adoption papers #lupitanyongo #Oscars -@chelseahandler.” She also promoted her new book, tweeting, “Congratulations #12yearsaslave Go to Africa or buy #ugandabekiddingme http://amzn.to/1de1ka9 #aheadofthecurve #Oscars.” Backlash, of course, followed.
Handler was asked about the incident in a Good Morning America interview where she laughed and told George Stephanopoulos, “I’m not racist. I date a lot of black people, so that would be a difficult thing to explain to them.” Not a fan of her tweets or excuse of a response, but is she racist? No. Callous? This time, yes. There’s a fine between comedy and satire; Handler’s remarks were extremely insensitive. And while everybody slips up and makes mistakes, I can’t help but wonder why black friends and boyfriends have silenced themselves for Handler to think remarks like that are okay. By no means, as public figures, should celebrities be held accountable for the actions of their followers, but at the same time, they have great influence. People look up to them. What example do Handler’s public remarks make? Transparency is always appreciated, but hers shed light to a bigger issue.
Racial prejudice is not dead. Yes, slavery was over a hundred years ago, but that’s not a long time. Overt racism only ceased over the past couple decades, but that’s still a fresh topic to some of our elders who’ve lived through it. You can’t just erase the memory of the pain those people suffered. That will never be funny. Though African Americans and a lot of other minorities have come a long way, some are still struggling with their identity and still trying to break out of a mold that others place on them. People still suffer from the lightskin vs. darkskin battle, defining what “good hair” is, not being able to break unhealthy eating habits adopted from when scraps was the only food available, etc…
It’s all a tug-of-war, but to be honest, Handler’s tweets are not the problem. How many of us make racial comments and jokes about ourselves or others the way she did on the regular? The problem is failing to recognize the effects of what we are saying. It’s hard to move forward from tragic situations when we pull back by continuously dividing ourselves by born types. There’s no inferior group, but some people of minority groups who aren’t afforded the knowledge to see past what their environment permits become boxed in (literally, i.e. race box’s on job applications) because of stereotypes, separation we unconsciously endorse, and derogatory comments like Handler’s.
Why can’t people just be American, or great actors from overseas, pretty, tall? Why’s somebody have to be slighted by “pretty for a dark skin girl,” “great dancer for a white boy” or “tall for an Asian?” Progress begins once we cut all that out, especially those rules that deem certain racial slurs acceptable to use by some and not by others. People have power they aren’t even aware of. Just look at the social changes we’ve encountered as a result of the Civil Rights Movement and LGBT Pride—persistence works if you respect and believe what you’re pushing. But it seems as if people are complacent with our many divides. So until we learn to stop accepting ignorance and laughing at misfortunes, and start seeing people for who they are instead of how they’re different from us, comments like Handler’s will just continue publicly and privately. —@AliyaFaust, the “Mixed Chick”
The floor is yours. How do you feel about Chelsea Handler’s Oscar tweets? Funny, or out of Kontrol?