Wanna go Double Dutch?
9th December 2003
Most of John Oliver's shows are great. And segregation in a deeply divided country like the US makes for an excellent topic.
To me it seems obvious that the best would be a country and world where your gender, age, sexual orientation or where you or your parents come, the color of your skin, religious views and what not are irrelevant. That only your acts and personality do matter. But that to end inequality you may need to discriminate a bit, such as regulations on where kids can or cannot apply for a school. Such things do take away the freedom of choice so it's chosing between two wrongs.
However what concerns me the most in this episode is the racism that even seems to escape Oliver himself. At 15 minutes in he shows a child that dressed up to look as much as possible like MLK. The good intentions of the kid are acknowledged but a finger is pointed (at the parents I assume) that an important nuance was lost. But I find this claim a bit disturbing. I am aware that the US has had an awefull tradition of blackface. But many other countries in the world have no such history and painting your face in one color or an other has absolutely no negative intend or meaning in many a nation. Painting a face itself is an innocent thing and to me the intend behind it is what matters. While acknowledging that the US has a very awefull history, automatically linking a black painted face with racism is entirely wrong. That in my eyes is a racist act in itself, to deny a person to paint a face in a dark color because decades ago this was done with ill intentions. Much like it would be wrong for people to use a swastika because those crazy nazis hijacked that symbol. A symbol might have a stigma but why not allow that to change and give symbols new, positive meanings? The child was absolutely right, and in a truely positive post discrimination nation what the kid did was simply right. Let's make this world a better, positive place without pointing fingers and blame games or trying to have some sort of right not to be offended even if the offending person meant no harm but only positive things.
7th December 2003
I guess historically when people painted themselves black it was done as a sort of entertainment to poke fun at the lesser tribal people in a time where racism was perfectly normal. So I see why that would not be appropriate in a country where racism still is a relatively big issue.