The following link is a YouTube video of a Mad T.V. Parody called “Cook Island”.
I personally found this clip to be very funny because of how blatant and forward it was about race and stereotypes in our society. We like to pretend that race doesn’t exist in America and everyone’s equal. However, this is definitely not the case as any minority will tell you. As we discussed in class, there are certain unspoken privileges that particular races get and this video brings them out into the open.
There are 4 teams with names very stereotypical to their race: Team Chicken and Waffles (African Americans), Team Soy Sauce (Asian Americans), Team Burrito (Mexican Americans) and Team White Bread (“Real” Americans). The fact that they call the White Americans “real” Americans reveals how White is not considered a race, but rather the default of what all humans should be; it is the regular, the norm. Peggy McIntosh discusses this in her piece, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” (http://nymbp.org/reference/WhitePrivilege.pdf). She writes, “whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal”. In America, when asked “what” you are, all non-whites are aliens and have to specify a certain other race to satisfy the person asking, while all whites are automatically considered “American”. This naming of the groups in the video shows how being White is a privilege all on its own.
The segment begins with, “Who will win the competition, the Asians, the Mexicans, or the Whites?” The Blacks aren’t even considered as competitors because how could they possibly win? Not only are they given no help, as we see as the video progresses, but they are actually given things that will hurt them in the competition. This is a strong reflection on society and the way it treats Blacks. Not only are they not helped, but they are systematically disenfranchised. A most obvious example of this is the Jim Crow Laws. These laws very purposely kept the Blacks at the bottom of society; they were used to crush the already crushed. The first challenge is a fire building challenge. To help them build a fire, the Mexican Americans get a flint, the Asian Americans get a match, the African Americans get a glass of water and the White Americans get a fire starting kit that includes a DVD on how to start a fire using the fire starting kit. This again shows how Blacks not only go unaided, but that extra step is taken to make sure that they can’t rise. I laughed when I saw this in the video, but it really accurately shows how certain races systematically get privileges but since these privileges are embedded into the way society is and no one talks about them, success is not attributed to the amount of hidden help one receives.
These two instances in the video remind me of the part of Mary Waters’ book, “Ethnic Options”, where people are arguing against things like Affirmative Action. The things some of the people she interviewed said were very upsetting because they did not realize that it is a White privilege to be able to choose your identity instead of having one handed to you along with the discrimination that comes with having that particular identity. They look back at their Italian, German, Irish racial histories and see the discrimination and oppression their ancestors bore. Then they see how well off they are now. They attribute their race’s gain in status and wealth to the hard work they put in. They do not understand why Blacks and other minorities cannot do the same. They do not realize that they have been given a fire starting kit while blacks, who have been in the country for far longer, are given a glass of water and Jim Crow Laws.