“Massa, is we sick?” asked the beleaguered slave. She cared not if the master was actually sick, but she did care that the master thought that she cared, considering the master controlled every aspect of her life.
If massa was running low on money, he might sell her away from her family. If massa told a joke, she had to laugh. Massa wasn’t very funny, but he thought he was funny.
How Artie Lange (pictured above) wanted to be massa. It was a promise that everyone would think he was funny, especially the Black woman he was creep-stalking on Twitter, ESPN host Cari Champion (pictured).
But Artie Lange is not massa. And he had to learn that the hard way: by getting dragged on Twitter.
Last week, Lange, who found Champion attractive in the most-disgusting way possible, felt the need to let her — and the world — know.
Lange went on a lengthy Twitter dissertation of how “hot” he found Champion and how he desired to re-enact some sort of Thomas Jefferson/Sally Hemmings “slave master” fantasy on her. It was essentially the social media version of that viral video of the actress getting catcalled around New York City, only the races were inverse and all the men were Artie Lange.
A lot of offended people, ESPN banned Lange from their network, and Comedy Central canceled an appearance by Lange on their show “@Midnight.”
Lange was “apologetic.”
“I’m sorry to whoever was hurt by the tweets. I will keep some jokes to myself. It’s a different world.”
It’s a different world.
There used to be a world where most men, particularly White men, could say just about anything and not worry about any consequences, because by virtue of their Whiteness and maleness, they were protected. They could be as disrespectful, gauche, gross, and nasty as they desired as there were no real repercussions, no need to care what others thoughts because “others” – women, Black people – were not people, meaning Black women were a sort of “double” not-a-person.
One could argue that there are still few repercussions for men like Lange who’ve made an entire lucrative career off of being as crass and offensive as possible, able to laugh off critics as having his mom’s prudish sense of humor. After all, if you were the butt of someone else’s joke, you were supposed to laugh because he said it was funny and other White men said it was funny.
Black women can’t be trusted as arbiters of humor due to their lack of humanity, so says Massa.
That’s why bringing up slavery was so telling.
It is “a different world” from the one he “jokingly” desired, where White men were at their apex of getting to do pretty much whatever they wanted to whomever they wanted and didn’t care if anyone wanted their attention or not.
Slavery, the most disgusting time in our nation’s history, where human beings were robbed of dignity and personhood, stripped from their families, treated like cattle and systematically raped, was an ideal time if you wanted Cari Champion to do anything with you with the guarantee she’d have no choice but to entertain your vulgarities.
The fact that his mind would immediately go to this, a scenario where a Black woman couldn’t say no, is telling. This wasn’t just a catcall shouting out that you were “sexy” or to “smile.” This was a “hey baby, I’d like to own you so I can rape you and have it not count as rape because you’ll be my property and you can’t rape a sofa.”
And then, after getting called on it, Lange would divert from the haranguing he rightful received by throwing up “it’s a different world,” as if yesterday were 1814 and not one day after the 2014 midterm elections. It’s been “a different world” for decades now and we’re presently 149 years out from the end of slavery.
And, yes, that was a different world, where no able, straight White man had to care what Black people thought, what women thought, what anyone thought, but thank goodness Thomas Jefferson is dead, Obama is in the White House, and it’s 2014.
Pardon me if I don’t want to go back to a time when I had to suck it up and pretend that joke was funny. Pardon me if I’m OK with it being “a different world.” I’m not nostalgic for a day when my agency – and everything else about me – was constantly compromised for the sake of someone else’s sense of humor.
Instead of asking “Massa is we sick,” I can flat-out say, “Moron, get lost.”