The past weekend’s episode of “Saturday Night Live” featured what some referred to as a “painful” monologue from comedian Leslie Jones, who attempted to find humor in the way Black women were paired with Black males during slavery many years ago specifically for the purpose of breeding.
Jones delivered the monologue during the show’s “Weekend Update” segment and based on Twitter reactions the joke was more hurtful, awkward and uncomfortable than hilarious.
“The way we value Black beauty has changed,” Jones said during the skit. “I’m single now, but back in slave days, I would have never been single. I’m 6 feet tall and I’m strong. Look at me, I’m a Mandingo.”
It was then that her co-host, who she described as a “delectable Caucasian,” asked her if she wanted to be a slave. While she answered no, the cringe-worthy jokes about slave rape continued.
“I do not want to be a slave,” she answered. “I don’t like working for all you white people now and you pay me. But back in the slave days, my love life would have been better. Master would have hooked me up with the best brotha on the plantation and every nine months I’d be in the corner popping out super babies. I’d just keep popping them out.”
She continued to say she would be the “No. 1 slave draft pick” and “all of the plantations would want me. … Now I can’t get a brotha to take me out for a cheap dinner. Can a b***h get a beef bowl!?”
The historical context of the joke is that the pairing of enslaved Africans by slave masters for the sake of breeding constituted rape.
It is a painful part of Black people’s history that has scarred us for generations and still has an emotional and psychological impact on Black men and women today.
Needless to say, it didn’t work.
Twitter was in an uproar but Jones was quick to defend the segment, calling African-Americans entirely too sensitive and claiming that the jokes wouldn’t have received the backlash had a male comedian or entertainer delivered them.
“It saddens me that BLACK PEOPLE b***h and moan about the most stupid s**t,” Jones tweeted. “I’m a comic it is my job to take things and make them funny to make you think. Especially the painful things.”
She also claimed that her jokes never touched on the topic of rape.
“Where is the rape idiots,” she tweeted. “I said nothing about rape you f*****g morons. I was talking about being match to another strong brother…Not being rape by white man.”
Many followers were quick to point out that the color of the man’s skin doesn’t matter. Lack of consent equals rape and in this context, enslaved Africans certainly weren’t given the option to decide whether or not they wanted to breed with the other enslaved Black people they were paired with.