Created By: SalFishFin on January 31, 2012 Last Edited By: SalFishFin on June 26, 2012

Playing the Race Card

EverythingIsRacist as a ChewbaccaDefense

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Needs a Better Description, Work In Progress

Old Woman: [holding a dead cat] Mr. Miggles. A Car hit him; he's dead.
Curtis: You want me to take a look at him?
Old woman: What are you gonna do?
Curtis: I'm a vet.
Old Woman: You don't look like a vet.
Curtis: You don't think Black people can be vets?
Old Woman: Oh, no, no... [Hands over Mr. Miggles]
Misfits (Note:Curtis is not a vet)

These days, political correctness has a way of going mad. Nobody wants to be accused of prejudice, after all. One of the best ways to win arguments by default is to accuse the other person of prejudice. With a simple "It's because I'm..." you can make a person shut up totally and completely, even when you're totally in the wrong.

Examples:

Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • January 31, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    Let me be the first to suggest No Real Life Examples.

  • January 31, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Related to Everything Is Racist.

    Also, this could have a funny Describe Topic Here joke.
  • January 31, 2012
    Bisected8
    • In Scrubs Turk's brother and Dr. Cox's best friend (who he has a similar relationship to the one J.D. and Turk have) both do this to J.D. at different points (Turk's brother just does it to mess with J.D., Cox's friend does it to stop him bugging them).
  • January 31, 2012
    FarseerLolotea
  • January 31, 2012
    PacificMackerel
    Not exactly: this sounds like "accusing someone of racism is a valid tactic".

    Still too close, since some of the examples from Everything Is Racist fit here, too.

    For example:

    • The Boondocks: In the animated series, this is how R. Kelly gets off from child molestation charges. Huey is pissed and delivers An Aesop about how not every black man charged with a crime isn't guiltless because of white people.
  • February 1, 2012
    Arivne
    In the U.S. this is called "playing the Race Card".

    Playing The Race Card?
  • February 1, 2012
    Rognik
    This is often played with nowadays by a character saying some variation on "It's because I'm white, isn't it?" Example: When The Bus Came Back for Sam and tries to get back together with Mercedes, he asks (semi-seriously) if it was because he's white.
  • February 1, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Seconding "Playing The Race Card".
  • February 1, 2012
    Duckay
    There's an early episode of How I Met Your Mother where Barney and Ted end up handcuffed and face-down on a desk at airport security because, as Ted puts it, "You had to play the race card." It's Played For Laughs of course.
  • February 1, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Who in the world are Sam and Mercades?
  • February 1, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    "This is often played with nowadays by a character saying some variation on "It's because I'm white, isn't it?" "

    That should be how this page starts.

    Why should I have to Describe (whatever name is used) Here? It's because I'm white, isn't it?
  • February 1, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    The turian who rants on about how "You humans are all racist!" at Citadel Security from Mass Effect 2.
  • February 1, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    I'm not sure we need this. Everything Is Racist seems to cover it, and my Flame War needle is redlining just reading it.
  • February 2, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • Good Burger: at the end of the film Dexter tears up his partnership contract with Ed. Ed: "Is it because I'm black?" The Nostalgia Critic basically said it was the only funny joke in the whole movie.
    • (FWIW) On The Late Show with David Letterman whenever a NASCAR or Indy Car driver comes on the show, there will invariably be a point before he appears where Letterman talks about the guest's race car. Paul Schaffer will then bemoan people doing that - but it always turns out that he's hearing Letterman refer to "the race card" not "the race car."
  • February 2, 2012
    Rognik
    @randomsurfer: Oops! I thought I had included the source for that. The example was taken from Glee.
  • June 24, 2012
    Noah1
  • June 24, 2012
    DmM
    There's a The Magic School Bus fanfic called Popular Mechanics for Lovers which is set when the characters are in high school. Its plot revolves around the fact that black Tim and ginger Jew Arnold are both in love with Phoebe. Although she has never returned their affections, they spend a lot of time physically fighting over her (Played For Laughs, of course, and without it damaging their friendship). One afternoon, when Phoebe is round at Carlos' house helping his little brother Mikey with his homework, Tim and Arnold show up outside and promptly begin fighting. Carlos loses his temper with the prospect of yet another fight on his lawn, and he decides to break it up. By the time he and Phoebe get there, Arnold and Tim have wrestled each other to a standstill on the ground, and Tim yells "HATE CRIME!" just as Arnold yells "ANTI-SEMITE!"
    • Made all the more amusing by the fact that all the kids in The Magic School Bus are part of 'racial minorities' in the States: Tim is black, Arnold is Jewish, Phoebe is German-American (but portrayed as being of mixed Louisiana-French/Irish heritage in the fic), Wanda is Asian-American, Carlos and Mikey are Hispanic, Keesha is black, Ralphie is Italian-American and D.A. is Australian-American (according to The Other Wiki: there's minimal evidence for it in canon and the fic portrays her as an all-American Texan girl).
  • June 24, 2012
    Andygal
    At least one dude ended up on Not Always Right for trying this, it didn't work too well, not least because of the other {very large} black man behind him in line that didn't appreciate him holding it up.
  • June 24, 2012
    Jbadder
    Can I make a suggestion to the creating troper to add the examples into the article itself?
  • June 25, 2012
    nitrokitty
    Yeah, this is full of Flame Bait and Unfortunate Implications. The "race card" thing works both ways: very often people will try to cover up genuine racism by claiming "they're just playing the race card again."
  • June 25, 2012
    DmM
    @nitrokitty: yes, but No Real Life Examples... My understanding of this was that it's only this trope if it's Invoked in-universe, as in the example I gave above.

    @Jbadder: lol
  • June 25, 2012
    LordGro
    Seems to me the trope and the title should be a little more specific. "Playing the Race Card" sounds like something that is too open for interpretation.

    If it's only for cases when a character that is unambiguously wrong tries this, then a preferable title would be, for example, Race Card Trick or Race Card Ruse.
  • June 25, 2012
    DmM
    @Lord Gro: but it's not (I think). It's sometimes when a character is unambiguously wrong, but sometimes it's just for a joke or to gain a temporary advantage. Either way, it's usually Played For Laughs. Race Card Sketch? Race Card Gambit? I have to admit, I like the pun in Race Card Trick...
  • June 25, 2012
    animeg3282
    I like Race Card Ruse. People use playing the race card for stuff like "sure, they beat you up, and called you an n, but aren't you being too sensitive? Couldn't n mean totally something else?"
  • June 25, 2012
    TrustBen
    I agree with Paradisca Corbasi that Everything Is Racist pretty much has this covered.
  • June 25, 2012
    DmM
    @ Trust Ben: I think it's a subtrope.

    Race Card Ruse or maybe Race Card Gag?

    Some suggested limits for this trope:
    • No Real Life Examples
    • This is a comedic trope.
    • This trope is where the concept of 'playing the race card' and/or Everything Is Racist are Invoked (and usually Played For Laughs) and/or Inverted.
      • So, someone in To Kill A Mockingbird pointing out that Tom's only on trial because he's black is not this trope. A black guy who's being arrested because he's been caught robbing a shop going "Is it 'cause I'm black?" is this trope. So is a black guy asking this question humourously of a girl who rejects his advances (happens in the fanfic I mentioned above). So is someone going "Is is 'cause I'm white?"
    • The character is doing it inappropriately to gain an advantage/get out of trouble or as a joke (often to make light of an awkward situation).

    This seem ok?
  • June 25, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Pre Emptive Racism Accusation?

    Possibly the most famous example for Brit tropers is The Ali G Show, because Ali G's catchphrase was asking "is it because I is black?" (I might be paraphrasing?). He's white.
  • June 25, 2012
    DmM
    @Heart Of An Astronaut: good example! Wish I'd thought of that...

    Not sure that it's preemptive per se, as it generally happens when no racism could possibly have been involved. Could just be me though, and it's certainly a snappy name.
  • June 25, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Something like Immediate Racism Assumption or The Only Reason Is Prejudice?

    I think that it's true to say that people are accused of this when pointing out very real injustice but it also makes for some good dark humour. Shouldn't this be expanded to include all kinds of prejudice? e.g. on Friends when Joey tells Rachel she can't babyproof their apartment. She accuses him of sexism to which he replies "women can do this... YOU can't do this."
  • June 25, 2012
    DmM
    Good point. How about Automatic Discrimination Accusation? We still need to point up the fact that it's an Invoked trope that only occurs when injustice hasn't been perpetrated, but widening the definition a little would be a very good idea.
  • June 25, 2012
    TonyG
    On an episode of The Simpsons, Homer is being sent away after being found guilty in a trial, and he begs (then threatens) his lawyer to "play the race card".
  • June 26, 2012
    DmM
  • June 26, 2012
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
    • Law & Order episode "Ain't No Love". When Serena Southerlyn is fired, she asks "Is this because I'm a lesbian?" This is rather a shock to the audience because they were never told she was a lesbian before this.
  • June 26, 2012
    DmM
    Does that fit? I don't watch the show, so I don't know... was it an unwarranted assumption/gag on her part?
  • June 26, 2012
    surgoshan
    ^ It was supposed to be a Wham Line and most of the audience hated it because it came pretty much out of left field. If you watch her episodes, you can see that the character took issues related to homosexuality much more seriously, but it's definitely a case, at best, where Show Dont Tell absolutely failed. However, in this case, assuming it wasn't intended to come completely out of left field, then it's kind of playing the race card. She'd been getting more and more liberal, more and more on the side of the defendants, and her Country Fried Southerner conservative boss was getting more irritated with her before finally firing her. It's one of those borderline "playing with it" cases, but most of the fan outrage is the Suddenly Sexuality of it rather than the race-carding of it.
  • June 26, 2012
    DmM
    Fair enough. Convinces me. Do we think this is an example?
  • June 26, 2012
    DmM
    Incidentally, the fanfic I listed as an example above now has its own page: Popular Mechanics For Lovers

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=wvdq88b1wl4yycwtvafdmye9