French college student found a way to combat racism with humor using the hashtag “Si les Noirs parlaient comme les Blancs” (“If black people talked like white people”).
This hashtag posted on February 16th has been shared over a thousand times. Jade, a 19-year-old college student from Bourgogne was just looking to put a humorous spin on the clichés black individuals usually hear from whites. In the hands of the Internet populace, the hashtag has exposed cultural prejudices as well as healthy criticism about the conflation of the African continent or a single person with everyone of the same origin.
Jade doesn’t believe comments or questions – for example, asking to touch a black person’s hair – demonstrate racism so much as a lack of tact. This lack of tact stems from an overarching lack of culture. Some uses of the hashtag go so far as to denounce inherent misogyny in comments about women of African origin. For example, @ThisisKiyemis tweeted “Her skin was the color of ham … and she moved with the grace of a French mule” as a comical allusion to the overused and now potentially insulting phrase “her ebony skin”.
Though Jade doesn't think of cultural clichés as a French problem, she was inspired to create this hashtag after watching a Buzzfeed video called “If Latinos said the stuff white people say”, wherein Latino actors overturned common clichés applied to people of Hispanic origin. Jade notes that in the US prejudice is criticized more often. This is likely because of the tense racial history that exists in the U.S.
It isn't completely clear if humor is an appropriate way to combat potentially racist conversations, but it is refreshing to see how ridiculous many of these racially charged accusations sound to black and white audiences alike.