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April 4, 2023

Tone Deaf Racism

Tone Deaf Racism

Is being tone deaf a form of racism?

When Mississippi news anchor Barbie Bassett lost her job after utilizing (arguably improperly) the Snoop Dogg phrase “fo-shizzle my nizzle” the conversation immediately began. Was it racism (overt or otherwise) or was it not racism? Was it ignorance? Or was it simply a case of the tone-deaf society that we live in? I’m almost certain that this lady had zero knowledge of what the words she was uttering meant. None. Not a single comprehensive thought was ever given to the phrase she was regurgitating in a poor attempt at silly comedy. The problem is, Barbie Bassett was on live television and Barbie Bassett is a Caucasian woman.

Now in no way shape or form should her ignorance be ignored, but if we conclude that this lady isn’t a covert racist (still up for debate as of this publication), the next question should be how harsh of a punishment should white people receive when they “inadvertently” offend black and brown people (and people of all races in general)?

Why does society tend to be tone deaf to begin with? Media companies, and all major companies for that matter, should employ a small team of diverse individuals to oversee the marketing and multimedia aspects as to educate the “tone deaf” community about what is and isn’t possibly offensive to say or post. When H&M decided to have a young African American boy model their hoodie sweater that read “COOLEST MONKEY IN THE JUNGLE” in 2018, they were forced to apologize due to the massive backlash.

Had they had a team of competent and diverse individuals advising them, perhaps they would’ve realized that this was not a good idea. The question remains, however, was it tone deaf or is it racism. And are the 2 related?

Black celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg and Charlamagne da God have come to Barbie Bassett's defense. Did she deserve to lose her job? What do you think? 

Follow the conversation as we discuss this topic on episode 132 of The Culture Podcast.