Twitter is rife with people calling out those who are sharing the Brad Pitt whispering in the ear of Lupita Nyong’o at the Oscars meme racist. Or should that be #racist? Yes, with the hashtag is better.
Facebook pages who are sharing the meme are also coming under fire for doing so. Again the call of #racist is prevalent within the comments being made. Maybe though, without the hashtag (they haven’t really taken off on Facebook have they?)
For those who haven’t seen the meme, here it is;
So is it racist? I’m not totally convinced that it is. And before those cries of “but you’re a middle-class white male who wouldn’t understand what it’s like have racist taunts against you, so what would you know” are made, you’re right. That’s true. But as someone who aims to educate my children every single day about not being a racist, or being homophobic, or thinking that you are better than someone else, or oppressing people, I think I can have an opinion on this.
So for every argument there is (although I have only heard one) as to why it IS racist, here’s my reasons why it’s not…
It Opens The Door For Conversation About International Adoption Laws
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (who will collectively be known as this cute name I have made up for them, Brangelina just so I don’t have to type both their names) have adopted children from Cambodia, Ethiopia and Vietnam. All three countries are popular countries where Americans can adopt children from. Kenya on the other has more restrictions than other countries even though they have just as many children in orphanages as other less fortunate countries.
Take a look at these figures from the Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State on adoption rates from Kenya versus those from Ethiopia.
This meme was shared on a day where international adoption laws in Australia were in the news once again. Our own “Hollywood power couple” Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness (should I call them Hudeb or Jackfurn?) have been vocal about the adoption laws restricting Australians from being able to adopt children from various countries.
I see the sharing of this meme as a positive way of keeping the message out in the open. That’s a good thing, right?
It is being shared by many who are vocal in the anti-racist movement without malice or negative intents.
Can a black person tell a black joke? Stephen K. Amos thinks so. So does Dave Chappelle. And Eddie Murphy did it too. Can a Jewish person tell jokes about Jews? Jerry Seinfeld, Mel Brooks, Bette Midler, and Sarah Silverman would say yes to that.
So could Maddox Chivan, the eldest of Brangelina’s children, if he had his own late night television show show this and get away with it? I would think so. Why? Because 1) it would be a person adopted from overseas making a joke about overseas adoption, 2) it would be a family member making fun (and non-hurtful fun) of another family member (I believe that’s called “having a lend of them”), and 3) because often times comedians on those shows (whether they are the host or a guest) push the envelope so that they can give plight to a cause (as I mentioned above).
So if we step back from that hypothetical scenario (because I get panned for using them) and take a look at who is sharing it and for what cause. Is the person, company, or Facebook page that is sharing this meme a racist? A known racist? Are they vocal in their racism? Do they actually spew out racist content with the aim of being racist?
Are they active in promoting racist groups like the KKK or neo-Nazi groups? Are they more direct than the “supposed” racism shown in this meme? Are they promoting the “turn the boats around” message in Australia? Are they actively fighting against immigration laws and hoping we go back to the “White Australia Policy” in this country?
Or are they regularly doing the opposite?
You know who you should be spending your time and energy calling out on being racists? Those people who on Twitter tweeted “Lupita Nyong’o didn’t deserve that award,” because, even though they’d be some people who legitimately believe that Sally Hawkins, Julia Roberts, June Squibb, or Jennifer Lawrence deserved it more on acting ability, there would be plenty of actual racists who would be writing it because of their hatred of black people.
The Joke’s Subject Has Been Twisted.
You see, the joke here is NOT about the Oscar winning Lupita Nyong’o who is Mexican born to Kenyan parents and who now resides in America; the joke is about Brangelina adopting “so many” children from foreign countries.
At the age of 31 years old, Lupita Nyong’o is far from needing to be adopted. She is far from needing the support of the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, the charitable organisation created by Brangelina to aid humanitarian causes around the world.
She is a woman who has received 32 nominations for her stand-out role in 12 Years a Slave and has taken home those award 24 times, missing out only eight times. And if she wasn’t paid a million dollars for that break-out role, I expect that her next role will be bringing in the dollars for her.
Now my kids aren’t old enough to have Twitter and Facebook. They aren’t even old enough to want to read everything that gets shared around in the form of a meme. In fact, my eldest son saw the Frozen meme that I shared on my blog’s Facebook page yesterday and even though it was paying out on parents like me who only ever go to the movies to see kids’ movies, he was excited that Olaf was on the computer screen.
But when they get to the age where they are old enough and if they are sharing or liking memes like this one with Lupita and Brad at the Oscars, I will talk to them about it. I will ask them why they think it’s funny.
If they respond with “it’s funny because it’s true, Brangelina DO adopt a lot of African kids” then I will let it slide.
If their response is a derogatory and racist comment then I will be educating them further so they don’t spread racism and hatred against those who are different from them. And I will be ashamed that my role as a parent let them down allowing them to have racist thoughts.
I hope it never gets that far.
So what do you think, is this meme racist?