Archived: Ever Laughed at a Racist Joke

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.


Question:

Have you ever used a racial slur or laughed at a racial joke

Answer:

Race is an obsession in our country for good reasons. For any middle-aged person (I’m 47) to say that they have never used a racial epithet or laughed at a racial joke is like saying they didn’t inhale. I’m sure that there are those of us who are as pure as the driven snow, but I’m not one of them.

I’ve never been mean-spirited around race and I can credit my parents for that. But as a white guy, I had a lot to learn.

Now I’d consider myself more sensitive than the average person. For example, I can no longer listen to comics who use racial epithets. It’s just not funny to me. I agree with Oprah about the N-word. Recently, at Bennett College, I heard her discuss hip-hop language with the students. She said the N-word was the last word most lynched people heard before they died.

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