Racist jokes are one of the more frustrating manifestations of racism. Jokes in general are meant to be a shared experience, a connection over a mutual sense of humor, a rush of feel-good chemicals that bond us to those around us through laughter.

So when you mix jokes with racism, the result is that racism becomes something light and fun, as opposed to the horrendous bane that it really is.

The harm done with racist humor isn't just the emotional hurt they can cause. When a group of white people shares jokes at the expense of a marginalized or oppressed racial group, the power of white supremacy is actually reinforced—not only because of the "punching down" nature of such humor, but because of the group dynamics that work in favor of maintaining the status quo.

British author and motivational speaker Paul Scanlon shared a story about interrupting a racist joke at a table of white people at an event in the U.S, and the lessons he drew from it illustrate this idea beautifully. Watch:


Speaking up in a group setting where people have an unspoken sense of solidarity is difficult. Giving up social capital and being seen as a breaking a code of sorts is uncomfortable. But that that difficulty and discomfort are not excuses for staying quiet. As Scanlon points out, our silence is not benign, it's malignant. Keeping quiet while a racist joke is being told and laughed at is harmful because it allows racism to go unchecked and white supremacy to remain secure.

An important point Scanlon makes is that not only do white folks allow harm to take place when we remain silent in the face of a friend, family member, colleague, or acquaintance making a racist joke, but we are actually rewarded for saying nothing. We maintain a sense of solidarity, we gain social capital, we're seeing as agreeable and establish a sense of belonging. Those rewards are an insidious form of racism that many white people aren't even aware we participate in. And we have to decide ahead of time that we're going to give up that reward and embrace the inevitable awkwardness in order to do the right thing.

We have to decide that ending racism is more important than embarrassment. The more people who stand firm in that decision, the less awkward it will become and the sooner we can redefine what social capital and solidarity really mean.

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One of the most amazing (and frightening) realizations one can have as a parent is that your child is always listening and they have incredible memories.

Alyssia, the mother of three-year-old Ayaan, was blown away when during their walk to school he began reciting positive affirmations she taught him a year earlier. When he was two she taught him to repeat "I am smart. I am blessed. I can do anything," when he is stressed.

"Well he shocked me this morning. Out of no where he started repeating it, so I pulled out my phone," Alyssia commented on her Instagram post. "He ended (with enthusiasm lol) once we made it to our destination. So proud of the little boy he is growing into."

Alyssia shared the video on Instagram where it received nearly 100,000 likes.

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It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

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Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

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"There's only one thing more dangerous than a bad virus, and that's a bad vaccine," Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's health emergencies programme, said in March. "We have to be very, very, very careful in developing any product that we're going to inject into potentially most of the world population."

Since the beginning of the pandemic, experts have said that developing a vaccine and getting it through the necessary safety and efficacy protocols would take, at minimum, 12 to 18 months. Yet here we are, 7 months in, and Vladimir Putin has just announced that Russia has already approved a vaccine for the coronavirus.

According to the BBC, there are more than 100 vaccines in various stages of development and testing. Six of those have reached phase 3 trials, involving more widespread testing in humans. Russia's vaccine is not among those six.

Meanwhile, hundreds of U.S. doctors have signed a letter urging the FDA not to rush or politicize vaccine trials.

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