Khloe Kardashian tried and failed to make a joke about the KKK yesterday on Instagram. She posted a photo of herself with sisters Kim and Kourtney and a text overlay reading, "The only KKK to ever let black men in." The accompanying caption simply said "True." After garnering more than 26,000 comments — many of them negative — Kardashian took the photo down. At the time, it had over 405,000 likes.
While most people were (rightly) outraged, a few fans did find the joke hilarious. "OMFG NO WORDS TO DESCRIBE HOW MUCH I LOVE U GUYS HAHAHAHAAHHAHAAHHAHAHAHAHA," @luxbuchbinder tweeted. "I actually thought it was funny cause the joke was on them!!!" @cordellponton wrote on another one of Kardashian's Instagram photos.
But, the majority of people didn't find it amusing at all. Kardashian's attempt at making light of the Klan's membership policies was extremely insensitive, especially to those who have felt the organization's wrath in the past. "Date the whole NBA, who cares? But show a modicum of respect. The Klan killed and terrorized our people," @JamilahLemieux tweeted to Kardashian.
Here's the thing: It's great to see high-profile instances of people of different backgrounds dating each other. Kardashian wasn't intentionally trying to be racist. But, in her attempt to highlight how colorblind she and her sisters are, Khloe just ended up resurfacing pervasive beliefs about inequality that unfortunately still do exist in 2014.
Kardashian's off-color remarks felt especially timely yesterday, when the International Business Times reported that the white supremacist organization is currently attempting to change its image. The group wants to rebrand as the "new Klan" and extend membership to "Jews, black people, gays, and those of Hispanic origin."
Just like Kardashian's photo, this rebranding effort completely misses the point. The problem with the KKK isn't that it doesn't "let black people in." The Klan was born out of hatred and racism. It actively committed horrifically violent acts against black people and other minorities. It opposed the Civil Rights Movement and encouraged segregation.
In other words, the Ku Klux Klan should never be joked about. Because, just as we saw this past week with Nicki Minaj's "Only" video, the second we forget what certain organizations, symbols, and imagery actually mean is the moment we become in danger of letting horrific events from the past happen again. (New York Daily News)