Pop Culture, Race & Politics

Fight Ignorance…With Ignorance?

I know this may come as a surprise to you, but ignorance is my favorite sport. I’m not sure how, when, or why it became so, but there’s a distinct possibility that this doesn’t make my mother proud. So when videos like this one from comedian Dave Ackerman entitled, “What do you know about Black History?” come across my inbox, I’m enthralled.

For those who can’t see the video, Ackerman dresses up in Blackface and dons Utah Jazz apparel and heads to Brigham Young University to ask white people what they know about Black History Month and Black people in general. Shenanigans ensue. Obviously the answer is not much. Even the Black people at BYU didn’t seem to know when Black History Month even was.

And the capper? He asked people if they know a Black person when they saw one, hoping that somebody would point out that he was indeed a white guy with makeup on. According to him, only 3 people made the revelation. Even the Black people he showed on camera didn’t notice. Or care. I can’t determine which one it is.

Obviously a perusal through the YouTube comments indicates that some people were offended all around by Ackerman’s audacity AND the fact that these white people in Utah had very little clue about Black History. The most telling part of the video to me was when he asked people to give their impressions of Black people and without fail, they all did…happily. And with reckless aplomb.

And you know what? They looked like my idea of what white people in Utah giving their impressions of Black people would look like. By the way the fact that a white chick actually said that Black History Month is the month that Black history started is beyond hilarious to me. Again, I enjoy and appreciate ignorance.

Ackerman’s point seemed to have been to expose how little white people at BYU know about Black people. Which might not be fair. I mean, its motherf*cking Utah. Except it is fair because we’re in motherf*cking America. But then again, it is entirely possible to live your entire life in places of this country without EVER coming into contact with a Black person without the Internet or television.

Now, these people are ignorant. Not ignant. And they are on a college campus, which speaks volumes, except it doesn’t because formal education has sh*t to do with social interaction education and exposure. Granted, if I was white, I probably wouldn’t spend much time thinking about race or Black people, especially if I lived in Utah. I’m sure there’s no reason to celebrate Black History Month there (I have no idea if they do or not). Everybody knows Martin Luther King, Jr because we all get a day off now.

But just when you think white people are a total disappointment in race relations, they do surprise you by getting some things. When the girls were asked if they’d rather date a Black guy who acted white or a white guy who acted Black, they all unanimously thought a white guy acting Black was ridiculous and stupid.

Yet, because white people do like to make sure our fistpump moments dont last too long, one of the girls stated that a Black guy acting white is classy. Wompington Whathafuckness, III. Oh, well.

The thing I took from the video, aside from the laughs I got, was the amazement at just HOW little white people know about Black people. I mean, not knowing when Black History Month is? That sh*t cray. I suppose its good that they all got in the right half of the year but still, that’s befuddling.

By the way, the fact that this comedian was in Black face doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I get it. If the ultimate goal is to truly test how ignorant some white people are, being a white guy made up as a white guy and going completely unnoticed despite the fact that he looks like a white guy made up as a Black guy, is the best way to prove that point.

So here’s my question: are videos like this necessary? Do they achieve any goal? Is there any greater good derived from something like this? If we all assume that most white people couldn’t give a flying f*ck about Blackness, and all this does is verify that, then was any progress made?

Further, was anybody surprised by how little these white (and few Black people) were unaware about anything pertaining to Blackness? What say you?

Because while I was amused, I wasn’t surprised. Nor did I care that much. La di da.


****For those in the DC area, Very Smart Brothas and Urban Cusp are teaming up to bring you a conversation entitled “Black Images and Culture in Mainstream Media” on February 22, 2012, from 6-8PM at the Washington Post building. There will feature a live panel discussion featuring very accomplished local artists, personalites, and media figures and light refreshments will be served. Be on the lookout for more information very shortly.****

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • I heard about this video on twitter a couple days ago, with big caps lock ‘don’t watch it, he’ll just get more hits and get paid from YouTube.’

    But honestly, a white guy in Utah doing blackface in 2012? I just can’t…

  • The vido was like “whatever” to me. I watched it but I wasn’t surprised at anything said or done. I did reply to a comment on youtube claiming nothing about it was racist in the slightest and Black people need to chill out. But overall, I don’t think it served any purpose. *shrug*

  • Royale W. Cheese

    He doesn’t really look like he’s in blackface. He just looks like an extra from Jersey Shore. And what are the two quarters there for…50 cent?

  • Dead serious I could hang myself right now for all those white people but even worse all those blacks that don’t even know when the jail Black History Month is! Like kinfolk #deadserious YOU NEED MORE PEOPLE

  • Iceprincess

    If the white ppl in utah didnt really know about black history, thats on them. I get it. But 4 the black students 2 be just as ignorant, now thats not cool at all. Young black people 2day have it so good, they dont even realize it. They are too far removed from the struggle, its easy for them to be nonchalant. MLK & the like are rolling over in their graves @ this bullsh*t. But u know the old saying, unless we know our history, its bound to repeat itself…

  • Nola A.

    Fried chicken and grape juice?! for real! *dead*

  • sarah

    I wasn’t offended by the blackface. But, to the point where black folks are shouting from the social network rooftops that Black History is American History, but then “aren’t surprised” when whites don’t know our history is just…

  • Val

    I don’t spend much time worrying what White people think of Black people in general. I do think what my White supervisor at work thinks of Black people in regards to me and how it might affect my ability to move up at work.

    So I guess that’s what may be disturbing about the video. When a Black person comes into some sort of meaningful contact with these ignorant White students in a few years in the workplace, etc. how will their ignorance possibly harm/ adversely affect those Black people.

  • No, most white people aren’t like that & the video doesn’t prove that. I don’t know, maybe most don’t care. I certainly hope that’s not the case. The bottom of the barrel of any group simply makes the most noise because ignorance always does.

    I’m SURE anyone who reads this as seen someone that has one or more identifing factors in common with themselves, do something that just made them *facepalm* or cringe.

    Sadly, every time I turn around I’m seeing something that makes me want to apologize on behalf of all white people. Obviously that’s not my place. On top of that I’m a TEXAN, so yea….

    Please don’t say most of us don’t care. I think most of us do, even if many don’t know how to. I assure you plenty of white folks cringed at this. Though I concede not enough cringed, and certainly not enough expressed their abhorrence loudly enough.

  • Geneva Girl

    OMG. That make up job just makes him look dirty.

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