Thursday, July 09, 2009

A- Racism. B- Sexism. C- Classism. D- All the above.

In my Summer courses at SLCC I have discovered great poetry and literature. The classes give me the flexibility I need to have plenty of time with my family, and I am grateful for that. However, in my Humanities course I spend many hours watching slide shows created by the Dean of the department. Despite his dry and repetitious delivery, I usually take with me lessons about equality and social justice. This is why I was somewhat disturbed last week when I was watching his presentation on race. He rarely makes jokes, and this time he made one that seemed inappropriate to me.

Perhaps I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but I was not amused at this little joke. In a class teaching the importance of different classes, races, sexes, genders and ethnicity, this man decided to poke fun at someone who has defied many odds and become a global activist. I am not going to say that I am a great Oprah fan, but I will stand up to defend her dignity.

I have spoken with a few people at work; some agree with me, and some think that I am blowing this out of proportion. What I want to know is, where can jokes like this be made? Is the classroom the forum to laugh at the "others" in society? I sent the following note to my teacher (who is not the dean) about this joke.

"On a side note I would like to point out that the joke made by “Professor” Allen is inappropriate not only for this course but for any educator endeavoring to teach lessons of equality and dignity. By claiming, in a humorous way, that Oprah possesses half the wealth of African Americans, he demeans both women and Blacks. Why is he concerned with the amount of money that she has made? Is it because she is a woman? Is he bothered that a Black person could earn more money than he? Where was the joke about Rupert Murdoch or Bill Gates? While I am a great fan of humor, I find it unprofessional for him to abuse his position of an educator to make light of anyone’s personal achievements."

I may have just woke on the wrong side of the bed, but it has been several days and I still feel the same way.

What do you think?