just a joke: white man gets black man to do manual labor for him

here is the video URL: http://reviews.cnet.com/mp3-players/baylis-revolution/4505-6490_7-33357756.html

Below is my letter. Don’t know if I’m over-thinking it, but I am going with my gut on this one…

Hi Donald,

First, thank you for seriously reviewing the Baylis Revolution media player. I’m excited to see something like this on the market (supporting Ogg Vorbis format, to boot!).

I was also very disturbed by the last part of your review involving Eric Franklin. You said, “I’m a little tired, can you wind this up for me Eric? Thanks, man.” And then sat there waiting while a black man who was obviously acting as a subordinate of yours did some manual labor for you. What disturbs me is how this relationship models the historical relationship between black and white people as slave and master, respectfully.

I believe you intended it as a light-hearted joke about the player’s dynamo (can you imagine cranking it for an hour to get a full charge?), and a way to make fun of the business hierarchy where it is so easy to get subordinates to do our work for us. However, there is an important distinction between “intention” and “effect” at play. Where the intention isn’t racist, the effect often is.

As white people we have responsibility that comes with our privilege to help move society away from our racism. An alternative ending joke could be, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have about an hour of winding left to fully charge this puppy…”

CNet is an incredibly popular site, influencing millions of people. I respectfully ask you to consider whether your joke models racial inequality to viewers, especially younger viewers.


Ethan Young

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