Racist or Not Racist: A Daily Show Investigation

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Sometimes it's hard judging whether something is racist or not racist. To end the debate on a few recent issues, The Daily Show's Jessica Williams, Jason Jones and Aasif Mandvi — and later Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele — hashed a few things out on "Racist or Not Racist?"

"First of all, that's a weak segment title," Williams said. She suggested: "Straight Trippin' or We Cool?" Stewart asked if that wasn't also racist, to which she replied "Oh yeah, definitely, but not if I say it." And the first case was:

A little kid is put in a Ku Klux Klan costume for Halloween. Racist or Not Racist?

Despite the obvious answer, Jones said adorable. "What are you guys talking about? He looks like a pointy ghost," Jones said. "Okay, fine. Racist. But adorable racist." Next case:


A white Texas Republican implied he was black to win a black, Democratic district. Racist or Not Racist? 

The question is, how did he imply he was black? Turns out he released a radio ad narrated by a woman doing her best impersonation of a sassy black woman. "Racist," Williams said. "Smart, but racist." Mandvi also went with racist. Hilarious, but racist. "Oh, big surprise there," Jones said. Since Williams is, you know, and Mandvi is also, well, you know, Jones felt like he needed an "impartial" (as in white) judge to back him up. 

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Cue Key and Peele, who despite Jones' protests, are both mixed race, and as impartial as it gets. Next case:

Richard Cohen's Washington Post essay on the tea party, arguing that "people with conventional views" have to try not to vomit every time they see mixed race families. Racist or Not Racist?

"That guy's straight up racist," Key said. "He's a volcano of hate," Peele added, "against white people." Key and Peele argued that he's not giving white people enough credit. "Basically he's saying that you have to cut the Tea Party some slack because they can't think straight, because they're trying too hard not to vomit when they see a black guy with a white girl," Peele said. Or maybe two white girls, or three, they added. "Or like three white girls and an Asian guy," Key said. "Oh yeah," Peele said, "What's he doing? Spell it out." Stewart cut the fantasy short, but you get the picture. Cohen's awful. Next:

Sarah Palin...

"Racist!" The entire panel shouted at once. Then Stewart continued:

Sarah Palin compared the debt to slavery. Racist or Not Racist?

Key and Peele admitted they'd spoken too soon. Palin's comment wasn't racist, it was just an incredibly stupid thing to say. Two thirds of the panel agreed. 



This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.