Comedian Amy Schumer apologized for a racist joke yesterday, after being called out on Twitter. Writer Martine Joelle McDonald asked Schumer about the one-liner posted below and Schumer responded, saying, “I am evolving as any [sic] artist. I am taking responsibility and hope I haven’t hurt anyone. And I apologize it [sic] I did.”
“I used to date Hispanic guys, but now I prefer consensual.” Y’all White feminist comedy fav, Amy Schumer— Master Race Baiter (@FeministaJones) July 6, 2015
It’s not the first time Schumer has been taken to task for her standup routines and sketches on her Comedy Central show, “Inside Amy Schumer,” though this response takes a different tone than in the past. Last month, a feature from The Guardian noted that, “Schumer has a shockingly large blind spot around race.” The story highlighted several bits in her oeuvre that “joke” about people who don’t look like her, including those about “crazy” Latinas at the MTV Movie Awards and one-liners like, “Nothing works 100 percent of the time, except Mexicans.”
In response to that story, Amy tweeted:
“Stick with me and trust me that I am joking. I go in and out of playing an irreverent idiot. That includes making dumb jokes involving race …You can call it a ‘blind spot for racism’ or ‘lazy’ but you are wrong. It is a joke and it is funny. I know that because people laugh at it. Even if you personally did not. I am not going to start joking about safe material…. Trust me. I am not racist.”
While Schumer identifies as a feminist comedian—“If I’m preaching for women’s equality, then sign me up. It’s so crazy that people don’t identify as feminists. I think it’s only people that don’t know the definition,” she told CBS News—there are many who feel her feminism doesn’t extend beyond white women. As Anne Thérriault wrote for Daily Dot, “Amy Schumer frequently makes jokes that perpetuate stereotypes rather than dismantle them … It’s hard not to feel like Schumer is only here for women who look like her.”
An oft-cited example of this is her video “Milk Milk Lemonade.” In it, she raps about the function of women’s body parts, while using the twerking, Lycra-clad bodies of black and brown women as props. As Courtney Taylor wrotes on ForHarriet.com:
Ultimately, the black women are mere accessories for Amy to use in order to drive her satire home. Just like any prop, placing black women in the backdrop serves to properly set the video’s scene, a setting centered on hip-hop culture. Once that setting is cultivated, the racialized message on booty culture can be delivered….
Ironically, by mocking the exploitation of black women’s bodies, Amy misses her opportunity to perform great satire. The song is not desexualizing women’s bodies but actually reinforcing it by maintaining a power structure where the black woman remains a silenced sexualized servant in the background.
Read the full Twitter conversation here.