What does the whole world have in common with a jar of jelly beans?

Nobody likes the black ones.

What do you call White people inside a yellow bus?

A twinkie.

What do you call Black people inside a yellow bus?

A rotten banana.

At first, Norby was enthusiastic about sharing some of his jokes but became hesitant; eventually claiming that he needed a Black person next to him in order to tell his jokes. Then, after telling his first racist joke, he continued without hesitation this time to share the last two which build off of one another. After each joke he would stop and say that his brother had told him each of the jokes, except the very last one which he does not remember hearing from anyone specifically. He paused after the first one and commented that black jelly beans are nasty because they taste like licorice before continuing with his next joke. He did not want to comment or add much else. Although he did say that he only said these racist jokes for fun and not because he was racist or anything.

I purposefully chose to list the three racist jokes he shared with me together to highlight the sequence and also to illustrate in a sense his performance of these jokes; he said them one after another with only brief pauses to remember how each one went between these jokes. I believe that this adds to the nature of the jokes, which are obviously racist. Although he had little to comment and was reluctant to think that these jokes might have any significance other than being “fun”, I disagree. The first and last jokes are racist against African Americans, or Black people, and both betray strong sentiments of dislike. The sentiment is the same whether it is because black jelly beans do not taste good or because a rotten banana is unfit to eat and fit only for the trash; Black people are seen as unfavorable and dispensable in these jokes. Both images also convey the equally strong message that the black element in each joke ruins the rest of the jelly beans or the banana, which has larger racial and social implications. The ease with which he was able to recall these jokes and the people the jokes targeted also reveal something greater. It reflects how pervasive racist sentiments can be and also the nonchalant manner in which they are shared and perhaps even internalized without too much awareness of the ideas and beliefs at the core of these jokes. Norby learned them from his brother and then shared them with me. He also mentioned that he says them for fun or as a means of entertainment only. Also, the jokes were tellingly about Black and White people; two minority populations in the predominantly Hispanic community of Los Angeles in which he lives.