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Students to explore race-based comedy

As a kick-off to the Conversations on Race series, members of the Lehigh community will watch and discuss clips from the Dave Chappelle Show, Mind of Mencia, Blue Collar Comedy and other shows that exploit race this Wednesday night, Sept. 27, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. in Packard 101.

“Wednesday’s event is an interactive exploration of race-based comedy and why it’s socially acceptable to laugh about race and issues related to race in popular culture, but not necessarily in our everyday lives,” says Alta Thornton, assistant dean for multicultural affairs. By showing audience members shows they watch and laugh at often, administrators hope to spark students to start asking themselves why they accept the stereotypes presented in the television they watch and how such comedy may influence their thoughts toward others.

Overall, the goal of the Conversations on Race (CoR) series is to provide an environment for students to have an open, honest discussion about issues of race and culture in America and at Lehigh University.

Attendants of the event can expect to watch the clips and then talk candidly about why they feel comfortable laughing. “Hopefully, folks will walk away with a clear(er) understanding of how artists play on race dynamics to make us laugh because sometimes, we are drawn to laugh at and make light of that which we don’t understand,” says Thornton. “However, it is not socially responsible to end with laughter; we must seek to understand who we are laughing with, who we are laughing at, and at what cost,” she says.

The program promises to be a unique learning experience and a great time. “Facilitators are very young and in touch with popular culture and modern media, and they have been hugely successful with presenting to college students across the country,” Thornton says. “Come with friends, have a good laugh, think about the laugh, and leave…and maybe sign up for the CoR series.”

--Elizabeth Shimer

Posted on Tuesday, September 26, 2006

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