When it comes to the term “safe spaces,” it’s not something that has a positive meaning in gaming culture. Safe spaces have come to mean something that pose a threat. To who? That still remains to be answered. I have that same question every time gaming edgelords scream “TRIGGERED” at anybody that displays basic humanity.
That’s only one example of the gaming community showing why safe spaces within that community are necessary. I can name plenty, but we’ll stick with the most recent one: the new viral meme, Ugandan Knuckles. This has gotten so big that even the creator of The Fairly Odd Parents show has posted a drawing of it and has turned the VRchat into a complete cesspool of trolls.
Now, there’s been plenty of defense for this new beloved meme. Ugandan Knuckles is derived from an Ugandan comedy called “Who Killed Captain Alex?” The movie creator has shown plenty of love to this new meme, even retweeting various defenses of the meme totally not being racist. The latter even went as far as to claim that you’d only find it racist if you already thought less of Ugandans, which is quite the reach. So, let’s start from the top.
First, take into account that some don’t find it amusing when people try to mock foreign accents. It’s degrading at the most and immature humor at the very least. Let’s also take into account that mocking the way someone speaks can have racial undertones. Anybody that is not white in America and doesn’t speak perfect English knows the humiliation all too well. Having attention brought to your accent (or if you don’t speak English at all) can be nerve-wracking depending on the environment.
Second, let’s also consider the strong possibility that most people that hopped on this bandwagon were completely unaware of the meme’s origin. Even if they were aware, that doesn’t mean that people couldn’t have possibly used this meme for racist motives. The tweet that is linked shows a screenshot of one Uganda Knuckles with pitch black skin, huge red lips and a watermelon across the front of its chest. I hope I don’t need to explain why that is extremely racist. And according to Denny, the original poster, this wasn’t the only Uganda Knuckles with this skin.
So, let’s combine the shitty, minstrel-level, Jim Crow-era humor with the Ebola jokes that are also being throw around carelessly. Yes, there are entire YouTube videos of people using the Uganda Knuckles meme while making Ebola jokes. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t understand how jokes about life-threatening diseases can be funny. In any context.
Last, and the most important part of my argument, people have the right to be offended by certain things. A person is well within their rights to state, “Hey I don’t like this thing and I find it offensive for various reasons.” The absolute wrong thing to do is respond by saying, “Well, you’re probably just too sensitive,” “Don’t take it personal, it’s not meant to be offensive,” or “You shouldn’t be offended because [insert empty justifications].” I’ve had to learn this lesson myself. When someone brings to your attention that you’ve offended them, it’s okay to apologize and admit you’re wrong. It can be embarrassing sometimes, but it shows good character to apologize publicly.
I don’t expect this blog post to put a stop to the meme usage. However, this can hopefully clarify why the meme has been deemed racist and banned from a certain forum. Yes, you’re free to use Ugandan Knuckles if you so greatly desire. Just keep in mind that this does not mean everyone else has to put up with it if they feel the meme is racist.