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Whoopi Goldberg’s ‘the bat joke’

The punch line of the joke broke the truce that many in the audience had reached with some measure of ‘sameness’. Once broken, knowledge of the conflicts-of-difference that selectively observed the truce revealed the various impressions that members of the audience have of conflicts-of-difference in the form of laughter.

In the clip below, Whoopi Goldberg tells her audience an “off color” joke (‘the bat joke’) and then asks them, why they found the joke funny or not?

The joke was not funny because it was about race. The joke was funny because it related a collective experience of race colored by difference that was familiar to everyone in the audience on some level. The audience laughed because they recognized the social validity of the ‘difference’ that the joke made fun of as a worse kept secret. In telling the joke Whoopi let the secret out while at the same time giving the audience permission to share in it with laughter.

The punch line of the joke broke the truce that many in the audience had reached with some measure of ‘sameness’. Once broken, knowledge of the conflicts-of-difference that selectively observed the truce revealed the various impressions that members of the audience have of conflicts-of-difference in the form of laughter.

Originating from a different place in every audience member’s life experience, each laugh contributed to a humorous symphony of understanding the wit and wisdom of the social validity of difference and how difference colors life experienced.

The Forgotten Genius of Moms Mabley

“She earned respect from her (mostly male) peers and from audiences with her ribald humor about her (apparently fictional) love for younger men, her admittedly frumpy appearance, and smart—but somehow never bitter—takes on racism.” By Aisha Harris

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Curriculum Vitae

Tom L. States PhD Candidate

Fields of Interest: Political Theory, International Relations, Marxist Political Economy

Research Topic: eRacism - Conflicts of Difference

Education History: Williams College, BA Political Science; New York University, MA Politics; York University PhD Candidate

Languages: English, German

Hometown: Greenwood, Mississippi

Words of Wisdom: “IT” is what you are when you are young. Your youth mistakes certainty of the few things that you think you know for knowledge of things that it takes a life time to understand. With time and a few life experiences “IT” becomes the thing you pursue to give your life meaning. Somewhere along the way of having or getting “IT” you ask yourself, ‘Is this “IT”? Panic sets in when you realize that “IT” is your life. Fear and insecurity is that feeling you get when “IT” has not been worth a life time.

Bookshelf

Harvey, David. Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference. New York: Longman, 1996.

Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin White Masks. Trans. Charles Lam Markmann. New York: Grove Press. 1967.

Cancian, Francesca M. Gender Politics: Love and Power in the Private and Public Spheres. Gender and the Life Course. Ed. Alice S. Rossi. New York: Aldine, 1985.

Sand, Shlomo. The Invention of the Jewish People. New York: Verso, 2009.

Lay, Shawn. The Invisible Empire In The West: Toward a New Historical Appraisal of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920's. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

Journal

Carothers, Thomas. Think Again: Civil Society. Foreign Policy Date, (Winter: 1999-2000).

Ober, Josiah. The original meaning of "democracy": Capacity to do things, not majority rule. Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics. American Political Science Association meetings, Philadelphia, (2006).