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2042 man!
July 11, 2014 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Hari Kondabolu on Why You Can’t Be ‘Obsessed With Race’ in America. “Saying that I’m obsessed with race and racism in America is like saying t hat I’m obsessed with swimming while I’m drowning. It’s absurd.” Hari Kondabolu of “Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell” fame on race in America.

Kondabolu has a debut comedy album out called "Waiting for 2042" that is described on the iTunes page as "a wonderful mix of progressive (to the point where you can call it "lefty") and approachable (to the point where you can call it "warm," "fuzzy," and "cuddle-able"), where a trip to the store to buy cocoa butter (he's a proud, attractive cuddly fellow with "skin that's so f*cking beautiful")" turns into something akin to Noam Chomsky giving surly observations in a drug store's "ethnic needs" aisle ("Great! An end to police brutality, more access to health care, more educational opportunities...").
posted by sweetkid (25 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
Definitely worth searching Youtube for some of his routines--I love the album, but it's not as much fun without his deadpan stares (and occasionally cracking himself up). Kondabolu is by far my current favorite comedian.
posted by wintersweet at 10:49 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


There are a bunch of his clips on the "video" page of his website, which is the link with his name on it in the FPP.
posted by sweetkid at 10:52 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


And he was on Q with Jian Ghomeshi yesterday too!
posted by Kitteh at 11:03 AM on July 11


Judging by simmering rage against sexism, that 49% will be just as non-united as the 51%. A lot of people will (are?) enjoy an "open season" of sorts on white males, 'cause you know.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:06 AM on July 11


He was one of my favorite writers on W. Kamu Bell's show, and I'm so happy to see him hit a larger national stage. I bought the 2042 album the day it was released on Bandcamp, but haven't gotten a free hour to sit down and truly enjoy it as a whole, but every clip from it has been hilarious and really thought provoking.
posted by mathowie at 11:08 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


People keep talking about a white minority in America, but that's like saying all non-white people are a single, unified group.
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:08 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


" but that's like saying all non-white people are a single, unified group."

That's also what bothers me about treating "white people" as a single group. What is a "white" person?
posted by I-baLL at 11:33 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


What's the video equivalent of RTFA? Whatever it is, do that.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:39 AM on July 11 [8 favorites]


It'd be super great if some people would check out the comedy. :D
posted by wintersweet at 11:40 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


yea the video covers "nonwhite people are not a monolith" and also "neither are white people." I neglected to mention that TFA/FPP is a video. It's a video! 3 min.
posted by sweetkid at 11:41 AM on July 11


What is a "white" person?

Canadians.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:59 AM on July 11


What is a "white" person?

Canadians.


only 76.7% of us - down from 80% in 2006. In that period, the aboriginal and visible minority populations grew to 4.3 and 19.1% respectively - and that's national (much greater in large cities). source

(already lives in a majority visible minority city - and happy to do so)
posted by jb at 12:15 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


That's also what bothers me about treating "white people" as a single group. What is a "white" person?

It depends on where you are in the world - South America, South Africa, North America and other places all have their own unique history and conception of white people that has to do with not only a person's "race" but also other socioeconomic and cultural factors.

The way I see it in playing out in America, it's about first of all having "Caucasoid" physical features, which means being a person whose ancestors are from Europe, the Middle East or Northern India and being pretty light skinned when not suntanned, and being culturally more WASPy than say Southern or Eastern European. Of course, as more non-white people and cultures enter America, the concept of whiteness is expanding and adapting to accommodate the changing demographics but it remains a racial, cultural and social signifier of the dominant group. For instance, whiteness in America now includes Southern European or Irish Catholics when in it the past it did not include them as readily. So the criteria for whiteness have broadened. Basically, I'd say in America it's centered on the identity of the early Anglo American colonies and expands concentrically to include the nearest cultural and racial affinities.
posted by ChuckRamone at 12:33 PM on July 11 [3 favorites]


yea the video covers "nonwhite people are not a monolith" and also "neither are white people." I neglected to mention that TFA/FPP is a video.

For those who can't/won't watch it, a transcript:
"People always say I'm obsessed with race. 'You're obsessed with race, you're obsessed with racism!' You can't be obsessed with racism in America, because there's racist stuff that happens all the time. You can't be. Saying that I'm obsessed with race and racism in America is like saying I'm obsessed with swimming when I'm drowning. You know what I mean? It's absurd. I'm not the one who's obsessed. This country is obsessed.

I hear about the year 2042 all the time on the news. '2042, 2042'. For those of you who don't know, 2042, apparently, according to census figures, is the year that white people will be the minority in this country, right? White people will be 49% in 2042. And I don't know if there are people in this audience who are upset by this, but don't worry, white people. You were the minority when you came to this country; things seem to have worked out for you, right?

But here's the bigger point. Here's the more important point. 49% doesn't make you the minority, right? That's not how math works, right? 49% white only makes you the minority if you think the other 51% are exactly the same. That only works if you think, 'well, it's 49% white people, and 51%...you people.' Because that 51%, my friends, is not a united front, ok? Just ask a black guy and a Korean guy what happens when the black guy walks into the Korean guy's store, ok? I bet you that interaction isn't pleasant. I bet you that interaction isn't, like, 'Hey, teammate.' 'How's it going, teammate?' 'Pretty good, am I right?' '2042!'

That's not what's happening. It's not what's happening. It's not a united front. There is some historic tension there. And some of you might be thinking, 'well, you're saying that 51% is not exactly the same, but you're assuming that all white people are the same.' ...Yes.

No, no, I'm joking, I'm obviously joking, right? Why am I joking? Because 'white' isn't a thing. Race isn't a thing. It's all made up, it's a social construct. It's a way to separate us and destroy us. It's not real. White isn't a thing, and we know this, right? There used to be signs in New York that said 'no Irish, no blacks, no dogs'. The Irish weren't white, the Polish weren't white, the Italians weren't white, the Jews weren't white. It's made up, it's a way to separate us.

And you know this, the people of color in this room, you know this. When you ask your white friends what their cultural heritage is, they never just say 'white'. No, they give you a math equation. 'I'm 1/3rd German, and 1/4th Irish, and 1/16th Welsh...' It's like, 'damn, Steve, all these years I thought you were just white, my bad. I should have been more sensitive.'"
You should watch it though, it's pretty good. This is probably my favorite bit of his that isn't on the album: Chipotle Revolution.
posted by Errant at 1:33 PM on July 11 [17 favorites]


He's discredited as a human being for his Weezer Broke My Heart bit. And I don't even like Weezer.

Look guy, you liked Weezer when you were young. Your critical appreciation faculties were being dulled by teenage hormones which led to some intense loving of things that were never all that great. Weezer did not get into the music business to cater specifically to Hari Kondabolu. They continue to make music for the teenager that you are no longer because that was their bread and butter audience then, and its their bread and butter audience now. They have no obligation to evolve parallel to you.
posted by mediocre at 1:45 PM on July 11


They continue to make music for the teenager that you are no longer because that was their bread and butter audience then, and its their bread and butter audience now.

This is almost exactly the point that he makes in that bit, so I think he knows.
posted by Errant at 1:51 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


Yeah, but he is doing so as a way of saying Weezer are terrible for continuing to play to that crowd as old as they are.
posted by mediocre at 1:56 PM on July 11


Aww, I love that joke on so many levels. As someone who acknowledges her white privilege while also having mixed feelings about being called white, I love people who get it and joke about it.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:59 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


I posted this this morning after a fellow Indian American friend sent it to me as part of an ongoing conversation we've been having about "obsessed with race" type comments (some coming from inside the ethnicity house from fellow desi people) and was otherwise busy today but wish I could have made it into a fuller Hari Kondabolu piece, especially seeing how much love he has here.

Basically this clip made me want to stand up and cheer with every word while also laughing, which is the special thing about this guy.

I love and recognize the points he makes in this bit from Totally Biased about Mindy Kaling's new show, like how there are enough Indian/Indian American people in mainstream American media that we don't have to like everyone just cause they're Indian and get excited about representation even if it's Apu from the Simpsons and yeah I hate you too Bobby Jindal.
posted by sweetkid at 2:20 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


Errant: Thanks!

Holy crap, that's pretty much my thought on the whole thing as well. That's awesome! I'll watch the vid as soon as I'll get a chance.
posted by I-baLL at 2:55 PM on July 11


He's discredited as a human being for his Weezer Broke My Heart bit. And I don't even like Weezer.

Any room left for people who do legitimately awful things?
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:43 PM on July 11


I love Hari Kondabolu SO much. I'd caught bits of his stand-up on Tumblr and thought he was so smart and funny. I'm a mild-to-moderate comedy nerd and consume a lot of comedy and most of the comedians I like don't talk about racism and sexism the way he does. I'm grateful that he exists, basically.

And again, he's fucking HILARIOUS. I downloaded his album for my husband and I to listen to on a long car ride. I'd heard some of his work, my husband hadn't. We almost got into an accident at a toll booth because my guy was laughing so hard he was wheezing and finally started yelling, "TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF!" because it was too funny to listen to while driving.
posted by Aquifer at 6:08 PM on July 11 [3 favorites]


He's blisteringly, brilliantly funny. I enjoyed his thoughts in this recent interview at the Believer (the other guy, less so).
posted by mixedmetaphors at 9:52 PM on July 11


I'd never heard of him and I loved this, thanks for posting.
posted by gerstle at 5:53 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


so glad to see this here! i was thinking of doing a post on him just because he's so awesome, but i love him so much that i wasn't sure i could distance myself if mefites turned out to hate him. glad to see all the love in the room.

the very first hari kondabolu joke i heard was my english relationship and then full house and ever since i've just been mainlining all the clips i can find on youtube. i actually discovered "totally biased" (after cancellation, sadly) through kondabolu. i also got back in to john oliver's new york standup show (after trying it when it first aired and not loving it) because he's on so many episodes (and it was great). this next week i'm pretty sure i'll be listening to the backlog of the kondubolo brothers podcast which is hari and his brother ashok (aka dapwell of das racist fame).

oh, and i love the weezer joke.
posted by nadawi at 7:48 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


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