Image: Nicole Arbour YouTube
Being a white ally is much more than giggling in front of a camera and making shitloads of money off of your ability to go viral.
The “comedian” behind the “Dear Fat People” video is back with a video that made me embarrassed to be White. Dear people of color — I am so sorry. There aren’t even enough words. I’ve certainly had moments where I don’t understand many problems you face, and have made missteps in being an ally, but I really hope that it’s never been this bad. If Nicole Arbour is what hearing your so-called "allies" sounds like, I get why some of you want nothing to fucking do with us. I wouldn’t either.
The video is called “Dear Black People,” and Nicole, as usual, spends most of her time bumbling from point to point in a nonsensical manner, laughing at her own jokes (at least someone finds her funny...?), and basically trying desperately to be Jenna Marbles.
After rapping some inane shit, she begins by making a “hands up, don’t shoot” joke which made me think, for a second, that she might possibly just be annoying but not offensive. She destroyed my hopes a second later bringing on a Black woman, whom she jokingly calls her insurance policy. Because if one Black person is A-OK with what and how you are saying things, clearly that is representative of the entire community. We White people know about your secret hive mind, and that a single person is totally equipped to speak for you, which is why Raven-Symoné never misses the mark or is hugely offensive on The View. It was almost worse that this woman, LaToya, was there because she was relegated to occasionally popping up to laugh or say the words “dick” or “white people.” So Nicole is ensuring that her video isn’t racist by having a token Black person? Well. No one in the media has ever thought of THAT before!
According to Nicole’s wisdom, Black people shouldn't be upset by the appropriation of their culture because it’s just cooler than what White people have, and it’s not like you don’t use pickles or dye your hair blonde or go to Starbucks. Also, White people invented hoodies because the KKK. And similar unfunny jokes for a video that was way too long and way too disjointed. Nicole does make the point at the end — sort of — about disparities in the judicial system and in the economy that Black people face. She also problematically makes a comment that sounds a lot like “Let’s stop seeing race!” though.
Listen. This video is terrible. Undeniably so. And it’s not really my job to whitesplain racism. There are so many amazing Black voices out there doing just that. They don’t need me to break down every problematic aspect of this video. And so I won’t. But I feel the easiest way for white allies to help is to call out other shitty “ally” behavior in our community because that burden shouldn’t be placed on people that are already oppressed and fighting for equality. So, Nicole, come sit with me for a second. And you too, fellow White people that find this funny. Recycling jokes about stereotypes isn’t funny. Misrepresenting appropriation isn’t funny. Throwing three sentences into a video about the struggle doesn’t make you immune from criticism or a good ally. This could have been amazing. Nicole certainly can produce viral content. She could have invited Black comedians out, and they could have very effectively lampooned Black stereotypes, or any one of a million other things. But that wasn’t the point of this. The point of this was to be just offensive enough that white people would like it, while throwing in some head pats to Black people so that she wouldn’t get too much blowback.
Being a White ally is much more than giggling in front of a camera and making shitloads of money off of your ability to go viral. Might I suggest that Nicole — and other potential allies — start listening to actual Black voices? Enhance your perspectives by following Amandla Stenberg, or Roxane Gay. Read The Root, or For Harriet, or Black voices on Huffington Post. Gain some perspective. Share from there. If you don’t understand something, ask. And please can we stop with the KKK jokes, fellow White folks? Some things aren’t even a little funny.