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Comedian gives students a reality check with some laughs

photo courtesy | tvrage.com Comedian W. Kamau Bell has starred in FX’s “Totally Biased.”

Amanda Brail – General Assignment Reporter

The crowd at the Lyman Center came to see comedian W. Kamau Bell expecting mostly laughs, but instead they got a much more serious message.

“There’s no such thing as post-racial,” said the star of FX’s Totally Biased at his comedy show entitled “How to Get Rid of Racism in One Hour.”

Bell said that he wanted the show, which took place on Wednesday Apr. 3., to make people more aware of the fact that racism does still exist, but he delivered that message with a comedic twist.

“We don’t live in a ‘post-racial’ world,” he said. “Racism still exists very much, but people nowadays just don’t realize it.”

Bell backed up his bold statements to the audience by explaining that the word “post-racial” cannot be found in the dictionary. He also said that concept of “race” is not technically a real, concrete thing, but something we use in place of people’s nationalities—most of which are not listed as options on the US census. He said his biggest racial pet peeve, however, is the racism that occurs regularly that people are not even aware of.

photo  courtesy | tvrage.comComedian W. Kamau Bell has starred in FX’s “Totally  Biased.”
photo courtesy | tvrage.com
Comedian W. Kamau Bell has starred in FX’s “Totally Biased.”

“White people — don’t ever ask a black person if you can touch their hair,” he said. “Just because you’re curious does not mean it’s not a racist thing to do – swallow your curiosity. You can die with that curiosity; just don’t ever do that.”

At one point the comedian even called the audience on their own lack of knowledge towards racism by asking them the races of former pop-star Paula Abdul and reality TV-stars Kim Kardashian and Snooki. When the audience responded with all of the correct “races” the “Totally Biased” star called them on their mistake by pointing out that they had correctly guessed their nationalities – not their races.

“According to the U.S. census, all of these women are considered ‘white women’,” he said. “I would say they’re more orange than anything, but if I saw these women walking down the street I definitely would not think of them as a group of white women.”

Rebecca Mette, a sophomore at Gateway Community College who attended the comedy show, said that Bell’s fresh perspective on issues of race helped to give her a better understanding of racism today and that his sense of humor helped to lighten the mood in a room which could have otherwise been filled with awkward silences.

“I really liked that he kind of just attacked the issues head-on,” she said, “but he did it in such a funny, different way that I feel like it really got through.”

Although Bell’s performance was generally about laughs, he also touched on the serious subject of his interracial marriage and mixed-race baby.

“The best part about my daughter’s birth,” he said, “is that she is the only person who doesn’t think of me as white or black – just dad.”

Bell explained how frustrating it is to get confused looks when he is out in public with a seemingly “white” baby, but showed his true comedic side when he explained how he handles those awkward situations.

“I just take off running with the baby as if I’m stealing it,” he said. “I think it’s funny, the baby thinks it’s funny, but my wife really doesn’t find the humor in it – I just tell her it’s a black thing.”

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