5 Reasons Chris Brown’s Arab Costume Was Over the Line
I know. I know.
Here in America, we have this no-rules, anything-goes sense of humor.
Nobody and no one is off limits. If you can’t take a good roast, then stay out of the melting pot.
But really, Chris Brown?
Is now the time in our nation’s history to parade around dressed up like Arab militants?
I think a lot of things–baseline respect, peace maintenance, common sense–says it’s not.
Now might be a good time to do some PR, not for your image, but for the sake of something way more important than industry rep: peace.
I’m all for comedy in good fun. And I’m sure I’ve laughed at more than one joke I shouldn’t have…even those that were at someone else’s expense. And I’m not ultra sensitive–let’s say you and your friends dress up like a group of intensely skinny white girls, I’ll find the funny in that.
But here’s 5 Reasons I Think Chris Brown’s Arab Costume Went Too Far
1.It’s feeding ignorance. Good or bad, a lot of kids look up to people like Chris Brown who’ve achieved notoriety in our society. Any time adults create single dimension, bias portrayals of another ethnic group or culture, it plants a seed of information in kids’ minds that they may not be able to balance with other life experience or information.
You and I have probably met plenty of decent, honorable people of middle eastern descent, so we can weigh this joke against experience and judge it to be a false or misleading representation of reality. But kids can latch onto portrayals like this early, before they have a context to absorb falsehoods present in it.
2. It’s deepening prejudice. This wasn’t just dressing up like someone else’s ethnic group, it was portraying that ethnic group as violent. While some middle eastern militants might choose to to act aggressively, you don’t have to browse the headlines too long to note there’s plenty of raging and abusive people in any race or group.
Any race or group of people could target another by dressing up like their most violent representatives. But in what scenario would violence be funny?
3. It’s spreading hate. The rush of online commenting, tweeting and other interactions spurred by this costume have already become the source of inflammatory, offensive exchanges between racial and cultural groups.
4. It’s possibly inciting violence. Remember what just happened in Libya? Further mocking a group of people and stereotyping all their religious adherents as imbeciles will not bring good for anyone–not for Muslims, not for Americans of middle eastern descent, not for our country who must share a world with others and not for the soul of Brown or the people who think ugly displays of arrogance are funny.
Note to Chris Brown and all of us who sometimes laugh at the degrading jokes aimed at others: the people we hurt most are ourselves. (We cheapen our standards. We allow ourselves to act ugly, treating others at inferior. We lose other people’s respect. Is this who we really want to be?)
5. It was flagrant. Let’s say you and your friends have this niche sense of humor and you, under the guise of freedom of expression (but not fairness), decide to laugh it up at some other group’s expense in the privacy of your own living room? We don’t necessarily respect that, or feel good about it even if we laugh along sometimes, but at least it’s contained to your space and will be perceived as your own unlegitimized opinion. But Brown posted this photo on the internet with some equally offensive remarks that will receive news coverage that will be misperceived, with some readers believing his actions to be more representative of our entire country.
In closing, here’s two over-arching principles I’m thinking about this morning:
- Just because you have the right to do something, doesn’t make it right or smart.
- Every action stirs good or evil, peace or hate, in this world. Which do I want to stir?
Do you have comments about Chris Brown’s costume choice? Agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear.
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