SNL skit on race falls flat

Posted: May 14, 2014

ONE OF the new black female writers for "Saturday Night Live" recently stomped on black women's collective raw nerve when she tried to joke about slavery, colorism and problems that African-American females have finding suitable mates.

"See, I'm single right now, but back in the slave days, I would have never been single," Leslie Jones said to anchor Colin Jost during the "Weekend Update" section of the show. "I'm 6 feet tall and I'm strong, Colin. Strong! I mean, look at me, I'm a mandingo.

"I'm just saying that back in the slave days, my love life would have been way better. Massah would have hooked me up with the best brotha on the plantation. I would be the No. 1 slave draft pick."

She went on to quip that if slavery were still in effect, she would have given birth to super babies named Shaq, Kobe and LeBron instead of being single and dateless.

I cringed through every second of her monologue.

Afterward, the conspiracy-lover in me wondered if SNL had its middle finger up and pointed in the direction of black women for creating a ruckus last year demanding that the show diversify what looked like a mostly white, all-boys club.

Call me paranoid, but I hadn't watched the show in a while and it felt as if SNL were saying, "You wanted more black females and more diversity? How do you like this?"

I reached out to NBC last week a couple of times, but was told that there would be no comment.

Ebony senior editor Jamilah Lemieux blasted Jones' performance on Twitter, calling her an "embarrassment."

Others quickly followed.

Although some bloggers praised Jones for tackling touchy subjects, her performance was widely panned.

"The first time I watched it, I was offended because it just seemed to be so stereotypical. Not only in what she said, but with her body movements," said Karen M. Turner, a professor of journalism at Temple University. "I'm sure so many people in the audience didn't get what was underneath the obvious. She was dealing with very complicated isssues that we don't deal with as black women.

"We don't have these conversations, really," Turner pointed out last week. "I don't think her skit advanced the conversation in any community. If you watch it more critically, she's talking about being big. She was talking about being single.

"There was pain there, and if you took the time to really listen to what she was saying, it was something that a lot of us really could relate to."

Yeah, maybe.

But that's a conversation you don't expect to hear when you turn on the television Saturday night, looking for a laugh.


On Twitter: @JeniceArmstrong

Blog: ph.ly/HeyJen

Email: armstrj@phillynews.com

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|