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PLATFORM : Who Is Racist?

February 18, 1996|TED HAYES | TED HAYES is an activist for the homeless in Los Angeles

As a black man, I grow increasingly weary of the double standards in our society. Political correctness is one thing, but attacking people for minor bloopers or comments that are purely based on ignorance is ludicrous.

The so-called joke made by LAPD candidate Randy Mehringer, which he freely admitted to the screening board, is not nearly as derogatory as the criticism by Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas that "one of the most insidious forms of racism is communicated through humor." Black comedians tell plenty of racial jokes about other ethnic groups and their own race. If Ridley-Thomas is correct, then African Americans are the most insidious racists in America. This, of course, isn't true.

It is interesting that comedy, the entertainment form that allows humanity to release its aggression in a friendly way and make light of our differences and similarities, has become the brunt of attacks by officials like Ridley-Thomas. I believe that laughter can heal sickness. I call on the citizens of Los Angeles to ask Ridley-Thomas if he has ever told, listened to or laughed at a joke about blacks or other ethnic groups. If he has, he must resign, even as Mehringer is being denied his chance at the LAPD.

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