Years ago I used to watch movies where there was a court jester and the jester’s function was to make the king laugh, to lighten his mood by dancing and playing tricks like a magician.

That was the intended function of the court jester who was also known as the buffoon or the fool.

Over the years it has evolved and we no longer deem it politically correct to employ or hire a person to entertain royalty. But to my mind, the word has just been done away with and people, especially white people are still enjoying or watching black and brown people do or say things that seem to amuse only them.

Here’s why it’s not funny though:

Mocking or making fun of someone because of the way they look, speak or walk is cruel and unless the person being teased or mocked is a professional comedian, it’s not ok.

It’s never ok to have a little tea party while you amuse yourself at some black or brown persons inability to pronounce English words.

I am triggered by words such as “blecks,” “kullids,” “severnty” (the pronunciation of the number seventy).

It’s reminiscent of the evil that forms part of our history. It is also racist. Yes, it is and even if most black or brown people don’t find it racist and have given you permission to laugh or imitate their accents, those black and brown people do not encompass all of us.

Laughing at accents and whipping out your cameras isn’t funny. It would be like laughing at someone with a mental illness and calling them “retard” as we used to do in the past.

In much the same way that it’s never ok to use the N or K word, it’s never ok to laugh when you’re the only one laughing. That’s mocking and it’s cruel and demeaning.
There are enough black and brown comedians around for white people to laugh at provided they pay for the privilege.

The problem with the court jester of the past is that if he failed to lighten the king’s mood, he was physically and economically abused because he was often fired at the drop of a hat.

When you take into account black and brown people’s violent past, often the white owner would get drunk and want to be amused and would then demand that black and brown people amuse him.

Be mindful of thinking it’s ok because one person of colour may have given you permission to laugh or mimic our accents.

Be mindful of our feelings when using words such as “blecks.”

The rule of thumb in the situations is when in doubt, ask. Never assume and don’t think that if a black or brown person is laughing with you that there isn’t an offence. They could be laughing for fear of offending you or losing their jobs or they could simply have been socialized to believe that their feelings don’t matter.

Court jester or cooning around? It’s the same just dressed up differently to disguise racism.