All Voices Matter: don’t put jokes before people

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In her weekly column, All Voices Matter, staff reporter Aviance Pritchett gives her take on social and cultural issues.

In her weekly column, All Voices Matter, staff reporter Aviance Pritchett gives her take on social and cultural issues.

What are jokes? Jokes are things that makes you laugh, chuckle, or simply amuse you. Sometimes they can be perceived as being corny or not exactly your style, but you always know that the joke you were told must be funny to somebody. Laughter has proven to be the best medicine–relaxes the body, boosts the immune system, protects the heart, and may even help you live longer.

Everyone has their own type of humor. Some have morbid humor, such as death jokes, or really cheesy humor, like bad puns. But recently it seems jokes that may be considered offensive have been on the rise.

Have you ever heard the word “triggered” uttered by someone? People usually use it when talking about someone who is offended by something that has been said. The word actually originates from the term trauma trigger. Sight and sound are considered to be the most common to trigger someone, according to mental health professionals, with touch, smell, and taste following behind them.

A soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, could be triggered by the sound of fireworks due to its similarity to gunfire. A rape survivor could be triggered by the sight of breakfast due to having to make breakfast for their rapist. Making fun of triggers is almost like making fun of someone’s trauma, as if their trauma wasn’t as much of a big deal and that they should just get over it. But you can never just “get over it”.

Trigger jokes aren’t even the beginning of offensive jokes. For a second consecutive year, the amount of hate groups have increased since Trump was elected, mainly anti-Muslim groups, going from 34 in 2015 to 101 in 2016. 48 Jewish centers have been receiving calls from telephone terrorists, anti-semites who threaten to bomb Jewish places of worship. People still assume all Muslims are apart of ISIS and seek nothing but to bomb Americans. Jokes about the Holocaust are, unfortunately, still made by people my age, seeing it as something harmless. See the trend?

Society is normalizing racism. It’s teaching us that everything is fine by saying, “It’s just a joke!” when it really isn’t. Turning serious movements such as #BlackLivesMatter into something mocking it as #GorillaLivesMatter or #ClownLivesMatter says that some people do not care about the wellbeing of others and makes it seem like these individuals see my race as something to joke about.

This doesn’t apply to just black people either. Picking and choosing what you want from one culture or lifestyle or race and seeing it as something all of its followers believe in is a prime example of racism.

There’s a difference between jokes and oppression. Jokes are not purposefully making someone feel bad or to offend others. Is society now accepting of being so ignorant of current events that empathy is no longer a concept? Simply because something doesn’t affect you, doesn’t mean it’s cool to joke about it.

Oppression and racism should not be shielded by cloak of of a joke. Yes, jokes can distract us from the world around us, but that doesn’t mean we should put jokes before people.