This past weekend on SNL, comedian Leslie Jones managed to offend viewers with her jokes referring “to how both her sex life and dating options would have been much better if it was back in slave times.” There also was reference to “producing super babies” due to being paired with the strongest, most capable black male slave on the plantation.
You can catch the segment below.
It is fairly obvious why folks were upset by this, but despite her casual tone, she did manage to kind of point out how strong black males that are built to be able to either perform well in the field, court, or playing field is something that was desired long ago, and is still today. While people seem to think that she is condoning systematic, I think the suggestion that she would have been paired with the best male slave indicates that lack of consent, as well as that slaves were viewed as a product. Slavery is always going to be hard to talk about, especially with how deeply entrenched it is in today’s ongoing racial tensions and systemic issues.
SNL was probably not the best venue to deliver those jokes, but either way, her comments are not any less false, that she would have been prized for her size and strength. This reminds me of Kara Walker’s exhibit which was quite controversial, but addressed this romanticized notion of slavery and how able bodies were such an appealing commodity. The installation surrounded you, so there was the force of it weighing down on you. I think she has captured the perverse nature of it, better than anyone else.
I have mixed feelings about the skit, but I like that she is getting people to talk about it. I think she is bringing more light to a bigger issue.