Local Genius Joe Rogan Also Wrong About Race, As Well As COVID-19 Vaccines

Joni Mitchell and Neil Young have pulled their music from Spotify because they don’t want to associate themselves with Joe Rogan, who spreads COVID-19 misinformation. However, Rogan doesn’t spend his entire broadcast lying about vaccines. He also makes a lot of racist remarks. Most recently, he seemed perplexed that Black people are called “Black” when most aren’t even Coal Black like the lady in that racist Snow White parody. This was part of a highly informed discussion about skin color with fellow white person Jordan Peterson.

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Peterson was still smarting over Vanderbilt professor Michael Eric Dyson having called him a “mean, angry white man.” Rogan insisted that Peterson isn’t mean at all, and Peterson claimed he wasn’t even white.

PETERSON: Actually, that’s a lie, too. I’m kind of tan. And [Dyson] was actually not Black, he was sort of tan.

ROGAN: The Black and white thing is so strange because the shades are so … There’s such a spectrum of shades of people. Unless you’re talking to someone who is, like, 100 percent African, from the darkest place, where they are not wearing any clothes all day and they’ve developed all that melanin to protect themselves from the sun, you know, even the term ‘Black’ is weird. When you use it for people who are literally my color, it becomes very strange.

What’s not strange is how little Rogan comprehends about race. You’ll also notice the casual Joseph Conrad-era racism he drops about Africa. People do wear clothes there. Maybe he’s thinking about Busch Gardens back when it was called the “dark continent."

"Daily Show" host Trevor Noah, who’s from South Africa, eviscerated Rogan and Peterson for suggesting skin color alone determines “Blackness.” Watch below. It’s hilarious.


Noah schooled Rogan and Peterson on the fact that Black people didn’t originally call themselves Black. He delivered a variation of the classic Richard Pryor routine about how there were multiple different tribes in Africa and then white people arrived and called them all “Black people.” (Pryor used a different, more searing word.)

Rogan noted that a lot of Black people are “literally [his] color,” which isn’t wrong. (Some people of Italian descent like Rogan are touchy about this point.) However, as Noah points out: "[In] America, they invented a rule that if you had one drop of Black blood in you, that makes you Black — which defined how you were treated by the government and by society. Even vampires wouldn’t bite you.”

To maintain white supremacy in America, whiteness had to remain “pure.”

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This weekend, supposed comedian Josh Denny — another clueless white man from America’s endless supply — tweeted: "Trevor Noah has only lived in America as a millionaire. I know more about what it means to be black in America than Trevor Noah.”


This is an absurdly ignorant statement. Noah was born in apartheid South Africa. His parent’s interracial relationship was illegal (hence the title of his memoir Born a Crime). It doesn’t matter how relatively well-off Noah was when he moved to the United States in 2011. Poverty doesn’t define Blackness, and a visibly white guy who grew up in Pennsylvania likely doesn’t know "more about what it means to be Black” in America than Trevor Noah.

Blackness is a cultural identity and lived experience, but the word “Black” itself is like the “X” in brother Malcolm’s name. It represents the unknown. Black people in America don’t know the tribes their ancestors belonged to before they were enslaved. Our heritage here begins with a crime. Although Noah’s personal history is different, he is still very much a Black man in America. If he were ever inclined to think otherwise, the police would kindly remind him.


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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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