Context: Informant is of Polish heritage, and although they are very proud of their Polish background, they do not necessarily engage in the culture of Poland within their daily life.
Informant: “We used to tell a lot of Polish jokes. How do you get a one armed Pole out of a tree? You wave to him. I heard this from my grandparents. I have more Polish jokes. Did you hear about the Pole while in a frantic called the police? He said for the police to hurry. He locked his keys in the car. The police said that it wasn’t an emergency. The Pole said that wasn’t the worst part. His family was locked in the car with them.”
Background Information: Back when the informant was a child, it was common for people to tell ‘Polish Jokes’. Although the Polish slander has decreased dramatically since then, the informant still remembers when these jokes were common. They’ve stated that when they were a child, they were uncomfortable telling people they were Polish. Now, however, they have learned to embrace their Polish heritage, and they tell these jokes with an air of pride. The jokes represent a hardship the Poles have faced, yet by telling the joke themselves, they reclaim the joke for themselves while simultaneously not forgetting the struggle they endured.
Thoughts: Although I have some Polish heritage, I was still uncomfortable listening to these jokes. On one hand, I was uncomfortable having a personal identity attacked, but on the other hand, it was uncomfortable seeing this Polish person slander their own name. I think this encapsulates a lot of the general history of the jokes. They were meant to belittle the Poles, but now the Polish people are fighting against this ridicule and in turn making everyone else uncomfortable instead. It’s an interesting dynamic. I think it is empowering to see these jokes be reclaimed, and the jokes themselves have become representations of power.