White girl jokes offend some, not all students

Emmaline Bennet (11),  resident white girl, works on her homework at Starbucks. Some students  frown upon white girl jokes. "I think they could hurt someone's feelings," Paige Morris (12) said.

Emmaline Bennett (11) works on her homework at Starbucks. Starbucks is a common white girl stereotype. Some students frown upon white girl jokes. Paige Morris (12) said,”I think they could hurt someone’s feelings.”

Offensive to some, a harmless quip about privilege to others, the phenomena of white girl jokes leaves students divided in opinion.
“The definition of racism is discrimination against another race, and white girl is in the name,” Molly Hockwalt (12) said. “Technically, it is racist.”
But does making fun of Uggs and Pumpkin Spice Lattes really count as racism? Student’s main disagreement involves different perspectives on racism: while some, like Hockwalt, think any discrimination based on race as racism, others believe that widespread discrimination against an ethnic minority is both a greater problem and a graver offense. They believe that jokes that target white people don’t compare to the systematic racism minorities face.
“They have the upper hand in our society. They’re only experiencing a fragment of the discrimination black women receive,” Rollie Fisk (11) said.
Separate from the debate about racism, students find other reasons to criticize the jokes. They regard white girl jokes the same as any joke at another person’s expense.
“I don’t like jokes that target other people,” Hockwalt said. “I make jokes about myself.”
Any joke at the expense of another person runs the risk of offending someone. This may be the reason many students are comfortable making jokes about white people. Minority students may have a different perspective.
“I think they can be very entertaining, but I’m ashamed of myself when I find them funny because I’m not white,” Emily Gray (12) said. “I enjoy asian jokes more. I feel more comfortable joking about my own race.”
Other students find fault in jokes that single out individuals.
“When they’re directed at a certain person instead of a general group, they can be offensive,” Ellie Treese (11) said.
This might explain why students disagree with jokes about minority races, but tend to be more comfortable with white girl jokes. In a classroom, there might be only one minority student, making them the butt of the joke. Since there tend to be more white girls in a room, the joke can feel less personal.
Whether or not students take offense at white girl jokes, they tend to agree that they can be a bad idea.
“A white girl joke is the first racial joke I would make, but I still don’t encourage them,” Fisk said.
Still, students are free to take the risk as they choose. Gray said, “I wouldn’t encourage people to tell white girl jokes, but I wouldn’t go out and tell people not to make fun of white people.”

By Bailey Gallion

gallion.bailey@oakwoodschools.org

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