Aziz Ansari, of Parks and Recreation and a number of acclaimed stand-up specials, went on Conan O’Brien’s show to talk about racist grandmas. He talked about other stuff too, but the most time was spent on the phenomena of racist grandmas.
“We all know there’s still racist people around, that’s not a news story,” says Ansari, talking about how when an Indian woman won the Miss America contest, the news coverage shifted to racist people reacting to her victory instead of the victory itself.
“But the racist people are slowly going away,” Ansari continues, pivoting to Conan’s audience. “Clap if you lost a racist grandma in the last year or two.”
“That’s a lot of people who lost a racist grandma!” says Conan, reacting to the audience’s claps.
“Yeah, you have that one grandma who passes away,” says Ansari, “like, ‘Oh it’s so sad—eh, she was kind of a racist piece of ****.”
It’s true that racist people skew toward the elderly, who came of age before the civil rights movement, and it’s also true that the U.S. is getting less racist as these people get old and die. But really it’s not that those people are dying so much as attitudes are shifting. People who were openly racist back when that was considered okay are shifting toward being covertly racist and maybe actually becoming less racist. As people have stopped accepting racist portrayals in pop culture, those attitudes have broadcast across the country. Non-white people appear on TV with no pandering to racial stereotypes, like Aziz Ansari’s character on Parks and Recreation.
The people that hold on to their racist attitudes are dwindling, but so are racist attitudes in general.
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