Woodson On
“The Pain of the Watermelon Joke”

In an Op-Ed piece in today’s New York Times, Jacqueline Woodson proves that a thoughtless comment can be answered thoughtfully and poignantly,

Responding to Daniel Handler’s “joke” at the National Book Awards about her being allergic to watermelon, she notes that she does indeed have an aversion to watermelon, a fact Handler knows because they have been friends for years.

By bringing it up, though, Handler reminded the audience of the way watermelons have been used to ridicule African Americans. “In a few short words, the audience and I were asked to take a step back from everything I’ve ever written … By making light of that deep and troubled history, he showed that he believed we were at a point where we could laugh about it all. His historical context, unlike my own, came from a place of ignorance.”

Comments are closed.