Ethnicity and satire

It looks as though at least some jokes about ethnicity and ‘race’ might be becoming acceptable again somewhere off the bad-taste-stand-up-comedy route. The writers of Stuff White People Like and Ask a Mexican produce often good and sometimes brilliant satire on culture and taste.

The whites on Christian Lander’s site are middle-class and educated. In Gustavo Arellano’s column, whites appear as know-nothing gabachos contrasted with mexicanos, chicanos, latinos and hispanics, who are also often know-nothings. Lander’s humour is deadpan, while Arellano jeers, sometimes aggressively. Lander’s remit is narrow and focussed, while Arellano’s is all over the place.

But both show the potential for laughing at ourselves and our sacred cows, particularly those we think belong to our ‘cultures’.  In the present era of over-seriousness about migration, I welcome these funny guys.

In Lander’s case, I particularly like his posts on white people’s desire to Do Good for the disadvantaged, while at the same time benefiting themselves, of course. It’s nice to see someone else take a look at ‘helping’ with a clear head.

I like the Mexican because he engages in border thinking, why else? Here’s his answer to a complaint about the inauthenticity of not only margarita mix but margaritas themselves and the claim that Mexicans don’t drink them and don’t eat tortilla chips.

. . . So maybe Mexicans don’t consume margaritas and tortilla chips as much as, say, pan dulce and huitlacoche—who cares? Both gabacho faves have their roots with Mexican entrepreneurs who took authentically Mexican products to create an Americanized hybrid; he should celebrate these feats instead of whining like Lou Dobbs. (2 Sept 2008)

This sort of thinking is unlikely to be Stuff White People Like, however!

3 thoughts on “Ethnicity and satire

  1. Anna

    Great blog, Laura! And interesting topic about ethnicity and race. I am half hispanic and half white. I grew up “white” and made a concerted effort to learn about the other parts of my roots – or at least be aware of them. On the other hand I know people who are definitely “white” in the “mark the box” categorization sense and yet they are more “hispanic” than some people with Spanish-language last names . It raises thought provoking questions about identity.

  2. laura agustin Post author

    Dear Anna, You sound like someone who will understand that my least favourite question is ‘Where are you from?’ I enjoy your blog, too, let’s keep in touch.


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