On Colbert and White Racial Satire: We Don’t Need It

by Mia McKenzie

A lot of strange things have happened since The Colbert Report tweeted a line from a skit that Stephen Colbert did on his show last week about Dan Snyder’s new ‘R—skins’ Foundation, wherein he attempted to highlight the absurdity and offensiveness of it by invoking racial slurs against Asians. Many Asian American activists, led by freelance writer Suey Park, have pushed back against Colbert and the offending joke by calling for the show’s cancellation with a Twitter hashtag—#CancelColbert—that went viral last Thursday night. In response, Colbert fans have defended him, some of them respectfully and many of them—in particular white men on Twitter—with racist slurs and rape and death threats directed towards the activists, most of them young Asian women, who called Colbert out.

The horrifying behavior of so many of the white men defending Colbert is not the focus of this piece, but I do want to say this: it’s disgusting and dangerous and downright criminal and it needs to stop. If we’ve learned anything in the age of social media, it’s that people will say anything when they can do it anonymously and not have to look you in the eye. Making threats from behind a keyboard takes zero courage, which is why it’s the preferred pastime of so many assholes. But let’s not let that reality cause us to not take these threats seriously. They are serious and the people making them should be held accountable.

What I’m interested in here, though, is the response of people of color to this Colbert debacle…


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