USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘racist’
Folk speech
Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Chinese, Japanese, Look At These, Hit My Knees

“I had an ummm…. sort of racist I mean it was very racist, I think this might have been in the Devils Rejects, was it in the devil’s rejects? I think it was anyways I did the same thing as the people in the Devil’s Rejects did in elementary school… not murdering people… but this demented nursery rhyme… it went sort of like ‘Chinese, Japanese, look at these hit my knees*’ it was very racist and I think that’s why we did it and even the Japanese kids in our class did it…. ummmmm…. We knew it was bad and we did it anyways (laughs)”

*note the informant does motions with his hands when he says “Chinese” he stretches his eyes length wise, “Japanese” he stretches them width wise, “Look at these” he motions towards his chest as if to insinuate breasts, “Hit my knees” fairly self explanatory, the speaker hits his knees.

I found this one interesting because it’s a rhyme that’s clearly at the level where it’s made for kids. It’s very intentionally crude as sort of a taboo rhyme. It was a horrible non sensical thing to say but it whoever said it felt like they were breaking rules. This probably added to the fun of the rhyme.

general
Humor

Sonny Beaches

Billy Echols-Richter

Houston, Texas

April 9, 2012

Folklore Type: Joke

Informant Bio: Billy is my uncle on my mother’s side. He is a Methodist Pastor, and a hilarious and friendly person and/or kid. He recently did a sermon series using Dr. Seuss. I have recently discovered he could be considered the family story teller because he learned all of my grandfather’s stories, jokes, and songs.

Context:  During this past summer of 2011 my grandfather on my Mom’s side passed away. Then recently my grandfather on my Father’s side passed away, and my Uncle Billy stayed with us and did the funeral service. He, my parents, and I were all talking. Then all of a sudden he started telling jokes his father used to tell.

Item: There is a Mexican who came and said, “I am able to understand. I can tell you what things are cause of what they sound like. I can tell you that’s a cheekin.” “How can you tell?” “Cause it go cluck, cluck.” “I can tell you that’s a cow.” “Well how can you tell?” “Cause it go moo, moo.” And I can tell that a man from Florida because he always yelling sunny beaches, sunny beaches.”

 

Informant Analysis: Let me see which one. I hear a certain word and it always kinda reminds of the punch line of some of those jokes. And he was always telling us those kinds of jokes. Well I think part of the deal was, 1 dad came from a big family. He was not the oldest and he was not the youngest and so between the eight of them they told lots of stories. They didn’t have a TV or anything and his dad was a good story teller. And people stopping through getting gasoline and that’s where you would hearthe latest story or gossip. Of course he was also in the military and that’s notorious for hearing all sorts of things. The last thing is work in the oil fields and he didn’t realy work in the fields well I guess at first he did. And workin in the fields you get lots of jokes. And there were still lots of racism. Lot of the jokes centered around African Americans, Hispanic, and even Cajun. What made me think about it was dad work in the oil fields was corpus and they were with a lot of Hispanic and Mexican Americans. It would be a racist riddle.

There’s two or three things. It certainly helps me have a joyful smile and just helps my dad stay with me. I had a sense that papa was with me with just the sense of things. I had a friend where my dad used to write me handwritten letters and when I read them I can still hear his voice. For these little rhymes or jokes I can hear my dad. I also think of family and how it came from my dad and his family and his dad. As silly as they are I’m a part of something much, much bigger than myself. I’m not the first to think it’s funny. It’s funny but at the same time there’s some depth to it. You know a lot of people have items that they pass on to people and special objects and what not, but the silly things we are talking about now they don’t ever get lost or deteriorate. You know now I try to pass them on to my kids, and some things they find funny and some they don’t. I think Julie finds some funnier now than when say she was Lawson’s age.

 

Analysis: I think my Uncle Billy really understands and has thought about this joke and where it comes from. It is a slightly racist reflection of a language barrier. Yet it still contains innocence because the Mexican does not know what the last part means; he is just going on the sounds he hears. This joke was more than likely developed as a result of Mexicans crossing the border and willing to work for very cheap resulting in fewer jobs for other lower income ethnicities.

Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012

Folk speech
Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

The Polack who shot his dog

Q: Did you hear about the Polack that shot his dog?

A: He found out his wife had had an affair with his best friend.

My informant first heard this joke in the 1970’s when spending time with friends he had made while working for a Southern Californian electric company.  They were sitting around and decided tell each other all of the Polack jokes they knew.  This joke, like every other Polack jokes, capitalizes on the historical American conception of the Polish as dim-witted and uneducated.  However, currently Polack jokes aren’t used as much anymore.  Today, the Polish are well-educated, democratic leaders in Eastern Europe, and an ally.

Polack jokes are a popular form of Blazon Populaire, a type of humor which is based on the insulting another race of group of people.  This joke is clearly an example of blazon populaire, as it is a typical Polack joke that capitalizes on the belief that all Polish are unintelligent.  The best friend of the Polish man is a dog, and while dogs are traditionally a ‘man’s best friend’, they’re not supposed to be.  This represents that a standard Polish man does not have the capacity to make friends with other people, and that his time is best spent with an animal with a smaller brain and incapacity to communicate.  Also, the Polack must also believe that his wife would choose to have an affair with his dog, which is also dumb on the Polack’s part.

This joke works like many other jokes on the establishment of an appropriate incongruity in the punch line.  The incongruity is that the wife is sleeping with a dog, but it’s appropriate because it’s the Polack’s best friend.

Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Joke – Racist – African American/Mexican

Joke – Racist – African American/Mexican

“What kind of baby do you get when a black person and a Mexican person have a baby? A baby that’s too lazy to steal.”

The informant made it very clear that he is “not racist” as he told me this joke, as people often do when telling jokes framed around racial stereotypes and conflict. He also made it very clear, before telling me the joke, that it is “really racist.” The informant is fifty years old and from Texas, and has lived there all of his life. He claims that jokes such as this are still used among close friends, but that “it’s just funny, we’re not racists.” He also claims to have “black friends,” as if that serves as some sort of justification or proof that he is not racist. He claims that jokes such as these stem from the racism that existed in the south during his childhood. The informant told me how he remembers when schools were desegregated in the south, and how “the blacks were brought over in busses” to his school. He stated, “they didn’t want to be there as much as we didn’t want them there.” He claims that much of the conflict was two sided, a kind of mutual racism. Furthermore, he claims that the inclusion of a Mexican individual in this joke probably stems from immigration from Mexico to the United States, often to border states such as California and Texas.
I agree that these jokes stem from a generation that experienced extreme racial conflict, but the fact that they are still used implies that they are still considered humorous. The fact that people still find these jokes humorous hints at the state of racism today, and shows that although it is much less prominent than in previous generations, subtle racism does still exist. The addition of a Mexican individual in this joke exemplifies the discomfort that many people feel toward Mexican immigrants, but the fact that they are portrayed as thieves in this joke conveys the stereotype that many Latinos are criminals. Furthermore, the idea of black people being inherently lazy seems to stem from Affirmative Action. Many people, who are usually white, are against affirmative action and other social programs, and believe it makes people who benefit from these things lazy. On some level, this joke serves as a racist critique of society in the context of immigration and social programs that are intended for minorities.

Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Joke – Racist – African American – Texas

“Run Nigga” Racist Joke

Joke – Racist – African American – American, Texas

“So Johnny’s in class one mornin’… little black boy Raymond comes walkin’ in and he’s all smiles ear to ear and he tells Johnny, he says, ‘my daddy got a new car yesterday, and Johnny, guess what his horn sounds like?’ And Johnny says, ‘I dunno, what’s his horn sound like?’ Raymond says, ‘well, when daddy pushes that horn, it says ‘haaaawnky.’ [informant laughs]. Now, he thought that was pretty funny. Johnny just kind of looks at him, and Johnny says, ‘Raymond, that ain’t nothin’. My daddy got a chainsaw and when he starts that thing up it says, ‘runnnnnn nigga nigga nigga nigga nigga nigga nigga.’”
(Note: Joke makes much more sense when heard. See audio file).

The informant made it very clear that he is “not racist” as he told me this joke, as people often do when telling jokes framed around racial stereotypes and conflict. He also made it very clear, before telling me the joke, that it is “really racist.” The informant is fifty years old and from Texas, and has lived there all of his life. He claims that jokes such as this are still used among close friends, but that “it’s just funny, we’re not racists.” He also claims to have “black friends,” as if that serves as some sort of justification or proof that he is not racist. He claims that jokes such as these stem from the racism that existed in the south during his childhood. The informant told me how he remembers when schools were desegregated in the south, and how “the blacks were brought over in busses” to his school. He stated, “they didn’t want to be there as much as we didn’t want them there.” He claims that much of the conflict was two sided, a kind of mutual racism.
I agree that these jokes stem from a generation that experienced extreme racial conflict, but the fact that they are still used implies that they are still considered humorous. The fact that people still find these jokes humorous hints at the state of racism today, and shows that although it is much less prominent that in previous generation, subtle racism does still exist. Furthermore, this joke uses pejorative terms for both white people and black people (being “honky” for white people and “nigger” for black people), but the fact that the white person “wins” in the end shows an attempt to assert racial superiority. Simultaneously, the joke implies that white people are not the only perpetrators of racial stereotypes, perhaps in an attempt to justify these racist ideas.

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