Chappelle, Foxworthy, Foxyworthy, Chappelle
AC asked awhile back about whether or not white people could discuss “race honestly,” a question that though rhetorical and full of assumptions, can be answered. Yes, white people can discuss race honestly, however that doesn’t always mean talking about the ills of the whiny minority that you lot just wish would shut up.
This discussion going on over at Aunt B.’s place is a good example of what I was talking about. She asks the question whether calling a white person “white trash” or “redneck” is racist. The discussion is about sub-culture and identity and language, however it is also about what it means to be white in the South. Some commenters dip in and out and around that issue, still that seems to me to be what is at play.
Of course it wasn’t long before analogies were drawn between the N-word and the epithets that are on topic. Some one also (erroneously) mentioned Dave Chappelle as one who makes distinctions between N-words and black people (it was actually Chris Rock who made it famous, but god knows he wasn’t the first). Then cornpone comic Jeff Foxworthy enters into the discussion, as someone who made a similar (though if I recall far less explicit) distinction between rednecks and white people.
African-Americans in the main saw Chappelle as a hero, and found his humor to be poking fun at the way African Americans are perceived not as they really are.** Rock, no hero he, was quietly lauded for the distinction but some perhaps found the line he drew too stark. Foxworthy just always seemed to me to be poking fun at “rednecks.” Was Foxworthy a cultural critic in disguise? Was this guy intending to be Mark Twain, stabbing at stereotypes with the hopes of erasing them?
**I never bought that argument completely. I think he was trying to point out, on occasion, some stupid things that tend to happen in the African American community, however he rarely made strong links between the maladaptive stuff he pointed a finger at and the root causes. I think his decision to quit the show because he felt uncomfortable with what he was doing supports my position.