Why Do We Choose To Laugh Instead Of Think?


Taken from the book by Tom Burrell:


Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority

A woman wrote an open letter to Tyler Perry on September 11, 2009…Dear Mr. Perry: I appreciate your commitment to giving black folks jobs in front of and behind the camera…but both your shows are marked by old stereotypes of buffoonish, emasculated black men and cross, sassy black women.

Your most famous character, Madea, is a trash-talking, pistol-waving grandmother played by none other than you. Through her, the country has laughed at one of the most important members of the black community: Mother Dear, the beloved matriarch. I just can’t quite get seeing Mother Dear played by a 6-foot-3 man with prosthetic breasts flopping in the wind. Our mothers and grandmothers deserve much more than that. Heck, our fathers and grandfathers deserve more.

--Jamilah Lemieux

Our community will flock to the theatre next Friday to see Tyler Perry’s latest installment of “Madea’s Big Happy Family”. A deep rooted addiction to the Black Inferiority complex allows us to laugh at the antics of black entertainers who call us the “N” word and denigrate black men and women in comic routines and movies.

Woven into the black American experience is a strong thread of avoidance, an aversion to critical thinking, and an abnormal embrace of anything that appeals to our emotions rather than our reasoning. The unspoken trauma of pain and powerlessness has led too many of us to prefer laughter to learning, and pretending over mending. These impulses, mixed with our damaged psyches, have left us ripe for exploitation. If a comedian, actor, or film director strums our emotional chords, we tolerate all sorts of sour notes. In reality, many of these talented, creative, charismatic individuals assume the role of “Neo-Coons”—modern-day jesters and clown princes. They provide superficial, short-term pain relief that impedes permanent healing.