"The Arab Is the New Nigger"


  • Lanita Jacobs-Huey


This article examines 9/11-related humor observed during a fifteen-month, pilot ethnographic study of African American urban stand-up comedy. Findings illuminate Black stand-up comedy as decidedly in-group contexts that afford multiple opportunities for intracultural deliberations around race, notions of truth and authenticity, and the state of the nation. Black stand-up comedy likewise presents a fitting stage through which to gauge African American responses to September 11 and the subsequent war on terrorism, as well as the ways Black comedic performances both reflect and shape African Americans cultural understandings of the world and their place(s) in it. An analysis of 9/11 jokes that worked and failed further reveals how race served to qualify expressions of post-9/11 nationalism and American identity for many African Americans.