When SNL decided to cast black female comediennes, we were more than excited! It had been a long time coming and many names appeared in the back of people’s minds when it came to who they thought would be worthy of being cast. Fast forward a few months later, and Leslie Jones, recently hired writer for SNL, has drawn fire for a skit which featured jokes about slavery.
In the sketch, called “No.1 Slave Draft Pick,” Jones joked about her own lack of love life, but added that in the days of slavery, her sturdy frame would have gotten plenty of attention. Here are a few excerpts from the skit:
“See, I’m single right now, but back in the slave days, I would have never been single. I’m 6 feet tall and I’m strong.
I mean, look at me, I’m a mandingo… I’m just saying that back in the slave days, my love life would have been way better. Massah would have hooked me up with the best brotha on the plantation. I would be the No. 1 slave draft pick.”
Although some members in the audience laughed, many were left unentertained. Ebony’s Senior Editor Jamilah Lemieux said:
“I don’t know if she’s doubling down and committing to defending a completely indefensible (IT REALLY WANS’T FUNNY, MA) skit, or if she really just doesn’t grasp what was wrong with it. But it’s depressing that Jones would play out her own issues with feeling undesirable in a way that not only made her, in that moment, perhaps as unattractive as humanly possible, but also mocked other Black women who may be taller, larger or outside the ‘norm’ in the process. Comedy can be cathartic, dark, subversive… but that takes skill that wasn’t displayed here. She didn’t call to question why women like her are, by her accounts, less wanted than the Lupitas and Beyoncés of the world; she talked about fighting Crips for a White dude and popping out NBA-worthy babies on demand.”
Jones has responded to critics with an unapologetic defense for her decision to write the skit. She tweeted:
“Ok I wasn’t gonna say anything because I know that dumb people know how to use the computer too, but now this is so ridiculous. Where is the rape idiots. 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. What part of this joke wasn’t true? I would have been used for breeding straight up. That’s my reality. And it saddens me that BLACK PEOPLE b***h and moan about the most stupid s**t. I’m a comic it is my job to take things and make them funny to make you think. Especially the painful things. Why are y’all so mad. This joke was written from the pain that one night I realized that Black men don’t really f**k with me and why am I single. And that in slave days I would have always had a man cause of breeding. If anyone should be offended it’s white folks cause it’s what they did. Y’all so busy trying to be self righteous you miss what the joke really is. Very sad I have to defend myself to black people. Now I’m betting if Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle did that joke or Jay Z or Kanye put it in a rap they would be called brilliant. Cause they all do this type of material. Just cause it came from a strong black woman who ain’t afraid to be real y’all mad. So here is my announcement black folks, you won’t stop me and I’m gonna go even harder and deeper now.”
There was a flurry of more tweets as Jones bashed black people for bashing her. I must say that Jones is right; as a comedienne, it is her job to make sensitive topics funny. However, in this instance, she was very wrong; because although the skit was sensitive and painful, it was not funny at all.