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Comedian Teja Arboleda Uses Humor to Break Down Racial Barriers

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Teja Arboleda

When is the n-word or b-word an insult, and why do famous comedians like Richard Pryor and Margaret Cho use such slurs to get a laugh?

Teja Arboleda (right) uses his one-man performance, “Crossing the Line: Comedians, Politicians, and Shock Jocks,” to explore how popular entertainment has historically reinforced stereotypes. “I’m able to get the audience to realize that it’s not necessary to make a connection with someone by degrading them,” he says.

Arboleda’s own heritage crosses many racial lines—African-American/Native-American, Filipino-Chinese, and German-Danish. His documentary film, Crossing the Line: Multiracial Comedians, profiles a new generation of mixed-race comedians who are using humor to break down racial barriers. 

Ashlee Green wrote this piece for America: The Remix, the Spring 2010 issue of YES! Magazine. Ashlee is an editorial intern at YES!


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