(That's race jokes, not racist.)
Kristina Wong and Issa Rae are two performers profiled in the new New York Times video series, Off Color. The four-part series delves into the personal and political goals and motivations of artists of color who use humor to directly and acutely address issues of race in the United States. It is enthralling to hear these provocative artists overtly explain the social injustices that inspire them to be not just artists who can make people laugh, but activists who can make people think.
Kristina Wong is a performance artist and writer whose one-woman show, “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” sought to raise awareness about depression and mental illness among Asian Americans. Her boisterous shows push back against oppressive cultural norms, like the fetishization of Asian women. “The sort-of fight to address or reverse or change oppression is a long fight, and if I fight it constantly with anger, that’s the man getting me twice: once when they’ve made fun of me, and the second time by making me angry.”
Issa Rae regularly unpacks stereotypes of black Americans in episodes of her show Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl. She wants to see more diverse representations of black experiences in films and television, not only slave narratives and Tyler Perry characters: “Everyone has felt awkward or uncomfortable or socially misfit at some point in their lives and for some reason in mainstream television black people haven’t been allowed that...”
The series includes interviews with two male artists of color who are equally busty. Hari Kondabolu talks about those awkward, painful, most powerful moments when no one is laughing. Lalo Alcaraz has a nationally syndicated comic strip that deconstructs the criminalization of immigrants. Don’t waste time on the internet: watch all four interviews!
Images and video via New York Times.