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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: Joan Rivers: 'Don't you dare call me a racist'

Friday, October 21, 2005

Joan Rivers: 'Don't you dare call me a racist'

I’ve never thought too much about Joan Rivers as an entertainer. I find her commentary about celebs as they walk down the red carpet both catty and annoying; this is not so much a personal attack, I’m just not a big fan of the celebrity worship culture in America to begin with. Joan Rivers did something, however, that really made me proud: someone dealt her the race card and she threw it back in his face.

Joan Rivers, Jackie Collins, Andrea Jones and Darcus Howe were all guests of a BBC Radio show hosted by Libby Purves. At some point in the show, the topic turned to race when Collins discussed a character in her book who was mixed race (black mom, white dad). Darcus Howe made a documentary about his strained relationship with his son trying to determine whether racism was to blame or his own shortcomings as a father. I would be inclined to believe the latter.

At this point, Rivers said:

I'm so, so bored of race. I think people should inter-marry. Everybody should be part this, part that and part everything. Race doesn't mean a damn thing. Everybody should just relax, take the best of their cultures and move forward.
Howe was offended by Rivers’ comment and said “Since black offends Joan…”

Rather than let the comment go, Rivers shot back with both barrels:

Wait! Just stop right now. Black does not offend me. How dare you? How dare you say that? 'Black offends me!' You know nothing about me. How dare you... Now please continue, but don't you dare call me that. Son of a bitch.

As Purves tried to regain control of the show, Rivers came back with one more jab directed at Howe: "Now please continue about your stupid film."

I think Joan Rivers represents a lot of the frustration many of us feel when the race card is dealt on an almost daily basis. Somebody had to say it; enough’s enough. Individ has an excellent post about Farrakhan’s so-called “Millions More March” and how its message is harmful to race relations. Individ writes:

I was listening to some of the speeches that were given at the Million More March activities starting earlier in the week. I was horrified. I was also personally insulted. White people were consistently painted with a broad and negative brush. As someone who has fought tirelessly against racism my whole life, I did not like being called a racist. How does it help the cause to alienate white folk who have been fighting on their side for lifetime??

I realize that race is still a problem in America but it is a two-way street. Racism is racism regardless of the race (or political party) of the person making the racist statement. That’s right; Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Luis Farrakhan, Howard Dean, Robert Byrd are all racists. We should follow Joan Rivers’ example (boy, I never thought I would say that) when someone unjustly deals the race card when it is obvious that racism is not intended and say: How dare you!


Blogger Lucy Stern said...

You forgot Quannel X.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan Rivers was rude. Why did she feel that she had to interrupt someone's interview in order to interject her feeling that race is irrelevant? That started this whole ugly exchange.

By the way--Race is not a "card." It's a reality for some who live in America. Why are people ready to dismiss someone's claims of discrminiation? Are you asserting that all non-white people are crazy for claiming they have been, at some point, subject to racism?

If race is not something that you feel is a problem, then fine. But to take away the experience of many of us who do not have that priviledge to ignore the fact we are treated differently, explictly and implictly, than other Americans is wrong.

Don't speak about something that you don't understand. Read a book about critical race theory and then come back to the board with an informed, intelligent view.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, Joan Rivers was not the one being rude. Why shouldn't she be allowed to interject an opinion? Howe certainly did after her remark, he could have held his tongue. All she did was say that "...Race doesn't mean a damn thing. Everybody should just relax, take the best of their cultures and move forward."

Why is it so hard for people to do this? It is nothing but color, at least that is what I teach my kids. I hate to sound cliche`, but why cant everyone just get along? Why are we standing still when it comes to getting over what color someone's skin is, we are way overdue. It petrifies me to think of what the world will be like for my kids.

Do you defend what Kanye West did during the Red Cross telethon, he went off script and started ranting and raving, was that okay? If someone said that any other race, color, or creed offended you, and you disagreed, you would let it go? Was she supposed to just sit there and let listeners think that was true about her? She had every right to defend herself.

Race is very much alive. The point is, many people are tired of it being used as an excuse for everything gone wrong. Howe is that one that started it by saying that black offends her. And I hate to burst your bubble, but the "race card" throwing is not going anywhere. O.J. used it, Kobe Bryant used it, people that dislike Bush are using it.

You come across like Stephen is the one that coined the term or something. Who was being dismissed from claiming discrimination?

Certainly there are people that have legitimate claims of discrimination, and there are some that just want attention, that goes for any color. I was turned down for a job at a casino for being white.

What in this post do you think he doesn't understand? All the quotes were all over the internet and the news, nothing was taken out of context. I'm still unclear of your complaint, I'm curious.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aimee, to address your comments...

My complaint is that Rivers interrupted Howe to tell him that race is irrelevant. In the context of the discussion, where the guy is talking about his movie which mostly addresses race issues is to discredit his entire interview and movie. Let the guy talk about his film. That's like if Rivers was talking about her work on the red carpet and Howe just blurts out, celeb gossip is a waste of time. For a person who makes thier living on celeb gossip, that's insulting. Do you see what I'm saying?

I don't think that most people use race as an excuse. Racism exist and just because it makes people uncomfortable to talk about does not nullify its reality.

For instance, what do you think of Lucy's comment above "Quannell X." That's pretty gross in my book. Sure, maybe it is a joke, but it's an off-color one, flying in the face of an important civil rights leader.

As for your references about the O.J. and Kobe Brant, I'll tell you from a legal stand point that those cases were NOT about race, it's about money. As an attorney in training, I can tell you, if you have money, then you can afford the best legal represenation money can buy. Further, O.J is a bad example for you to use because the evidence in that case was so tainted by the racist coments made by Furman (not to mention his lying on the stand) and the botched job the police did, that no jury could have convicted O.J. based on the evidence that was presented.

The fact that you use "race" as a reason that these men were not convicted is a little suspect, maybe you are using the race cards, perhaps? Are you inferring that these men were guilty but they were not convicted because society felt bad because they used the race card? That would not follow considering the racial make up of jails. Why are you so ready to beleive that both men were guilty? But I digress....

I do agree that we need to teach children that race does not matter. (In fact, it's a social construct, it does not even exist.) BUT what is key, is race continues to matter in society because it DOES really affect people. It affected you, it has affected me, so doesn't it follow that race affects other?

My question is Why do people freak out when they are called racist?

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off,

...As Howe talked about the pervasiveness of race in personal relationships, Rivers interrupted to say: "I'm so bored with race."

Howe responded: "You're entitled to be bored by it. I am not."

Rivers went on to say she thought race should be irrelevant, and intermarriage should be common.

"Race doesn't mean a damn thing — it's about people," she said.,0,3379511.story?coll=la-story-footer&track=morenews

She never said that race is irrelevant, she said that it *should* be. Meaning people need to get over skin color and quit making it a race issue. Just be happy with one another because the other races are not going anywhere. And I whole heartedly agree with her. My brother is dating a woman who is half white and half black. I don't see a color, I see someone who makes my brother happy.

I would still like to know your feelings about what Kanye did.

Second; The headline to this is: Kobe lawyer plays race card.

It was Cochran that used the race card and became famous for using it during the O.J. trial. So, I guess you can either thank him, or blame him. Not once did I say in my response that I thought either of these men were guilty because they were black.

As for Quannell X (not to be confused with Malcolm X), I have never heard the name before, so I tried to look him up. Frankly there wasn't much to find, other than he hates white people. Starting screaming racism at an elderly white man for letting a cemetary get run down because there were black people buried there, and so were whites, but that doesn't matter, right? As far as Lucy putting him up there, she was merely pointing out to Stephen that this man needed to be added to the list of racits. Stephen says, "I realize that race is still a problem in America but it is a two-way street. Racism is racism regardless of the race (or political party) of the person making the racist statement. That’s right; Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Luis Farrakhan, Howard Dean, Robert Byrd are all racists." Not all of these men mentioned are black. There is plenty of hate to go around.

Yes, these people are racist, they breed hate, their livelyhood depends on it, they eat it and breathe it. People like Jackson and Sharpton would be bored to tears if they didn't have molehill issues that they could turn into mountains.
There is a great post about an airing of C-Span featuring African Americans speaking out about Hurrican Katrina and Issues Facing African Americans (which they barely touched on the issue of the hurricae). Scary stuff came out of these speakers mouths. Spouting off that whites are what is wrong with this world and we need to be exterminated.

I don't agree with the KKK either, but this crap has got to stop, on both sides!

"My question is Why do people freak out when they are called racist?"
If you were not gay, would you want to be called gay? Don't confuse me with people that are proud to be haters and racists.
Being called racist is a personal attack, and I would be offended to be called one. I have black friends,and there are black people I don't care for, but that doesn't make me racist, I refuse to say the 'N' word. Hell, there are plenty of white people that I don't care for either, so would that make me a traitor to my race?

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Okay, I did not know that there WAS a Quanell X!! Thanks for the clarification. I thought that Lucy was making fun of Malcom X. Frankly, I am kind of insulted that Quanell X uses his name in way that can be made fun of or confused with Malcom X because that was what I thought!! I DO NOT agree with him at all. Also, I feel that you may get the idea that I think that minorities cannot be racisit, that is not the truth. So, I guess that Lucy had a point. Thanks for that.

I understand that you agree with Rivers in the sense that she beleives that race should be irrlevant. BUT my point that is not everyone feels that way. AND to drive that point home to someone that feels that way during his five minutes to promote his film about that very subject is rude and wrong. That's my point.

I wonder, do people conflate people who are racially conscience with people who hate white people? Because that is not what it is about.

Clearly, you don't hold any racist views. (nor was implyinng that you did, but I think that is clear, no?) But the fact is that some people do AND those people are the ones who DO make race relevant. The key is recognizing that some people are racist and to call them out for those attitudes.

As for O.J. his defense team pointed out that an argument can be made that the Police dept was racist. Come on, Furman lied on the stand and it was proved. That is not playing the race card. It is raising the question of whether the jury can trust a cop that lies and uses racial hate speech. Court is war and it's a lawyers job to defend who is credible on the witness stand and who is not.

Also, I think that you are making an assumptiont that Jackson and Sharton are turning mountains into molehills. Some of the things they talk about are true as unpleasant as it may seem.

I believe you that racisim should stop. But I know that it has not. I am getting married to a white man and you would not beleive the kind of stares and comments that we have to endure. It's 2005 but racisim still exists. I know because we live it.

As for Kanye, LOL. Love his music but I don't know if I am mad at what he did. Yes, it was not the right forum blah, blah, blah. I get it. BUT I am not a fan of Bush so anyone who says something inflammatory towards him, is a-okay in my book. I know that this is not the P.C. view. But the fact is I really, really, don't agree with the current adminstration and I do not think that I can lend intelligent, unbiased comment. I think that the whole comment is kinda funny. But I don't take it that seriously for some reason.

What do you think about Kanye?

6:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One last thing.. JUST to clarify....I was reading my last post, this section of the post:

"For instance, what do you think of Lucy's comment above "Quannell X." That's pretty gross in my book. Sure, maybe it is a joke, but it's an off-color one, flying in the face of an important civil rights leader."

Just totally disregard this whole comment. I just want to reiterate that I do not care for Quannell X. I really thought that the comment that Lucy posted was a flip one that served to insult Malcom X who I beleive is an important civil rights leader.


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