Social Media, Comedy Have The Power To Change The World

Comedian and author of “How to be Black” Baratunde Thurston gave a keynote speech to a packed crowd at South By Southwest Interactive Saturday afternoon. The gist of his speech was, essentially, that social media and satire/comedy have the power to change the world.

Thurston started his speech by talking about his family members, how former slaves and pioneering women affected his life with their experiences. Then he tied his experiences growing up with this family in an environment which he likened to “The Wire” to his outlook on his work.

He often had the audience in stitches with his self-satirical comedy, noting that he lived “The Wire” in 3D and that “we had everything ‘The Wire’ had except undying universal acclaim and white people who loved it.” Nonetheless, he spoke about how his satirical work at The Onion had inspired people from all over the world, and the effects of it in the U.S.

A large part of his presentation consisted of examples from around the world where satirical comedy — a la “The Daily Show” or cartoons — served as the only outlet for inconvenient truths. Specifically, Thurston noted that China, Egypt, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Iran were places where comedians were pushing the envelope and “revealing important truths mainstream outlets cannot.”

“We look to institutions for trust and they often come up short,” he said. “The media? They’re too busy talking about the state of the media. Comedians are willing to speak the truth.”

You can almost measure the freedom of a society by its tolerance for satirists, he told the audience, and with comedy and social media, everyone who creates content online is creating a revolutionary tool. There’s a need in society of satire, he said, and ultimately this allows us all to participate in the “upgrading of our own humanity.”

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

U.S. citizen detained overnight by ICE – they thought he was undocumented

Victor Landa July 6, 2017

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco (1.5 minute read)  This is startling news. Up until last night at a dinner conversation I believed that the idea that an American citizen would be […]

Willie Velásquez documentary is a lesson for Latinos on the importance of voting

NewsTaco May 9, 2017

*Why you should read this: Because today is Willie Velasquez day and a quick search of his name turned up no news stories. This piece, by Mercedes Olivera, is from […]

DIECIOCHO Podcast: Texas Rep. Rafael Anchia – Trump, Gerrymandering and Money

NewsTaco June 8, 2017

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco (1 minute read, 34 minute listen)  It’s safe to say that the just-ended Texas legislative session was the most acrimonious in memory. We can talk for […]

Ted Cruz gets an earful in McAllen for July 4

Victor Landa July 5, 2017

*I’m posting this because it was mostly Latinos, organizing, protesting, making their voices heard. Everyone needs to know that Latinos in deep South Texas are standing up. VL By Patrick […]

Pence will host White House Cinco de Mayo party

NewsTaco May 4, 2017

*Why you should read this: Because there’ll be no Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House (I know, big deal – we’ll be spared the taco-bowl). VL By Hadas […]

Vietnam War veteran fears he could be deported

Victor Landa July 7, 2017

*This Vietnam veteran, born in Mexico, was awarded two Purple Hearts and given U.S. citizenship after his service. He’s misplaced his documents and after paying $345 the government wants more […]

Henry Cisneros: Why Can’t Americans See Latinos Are Country’s ‘Saving Grace’?

Victor Landa

*Good question. I think it’s because we’re not the ones telling our story. We need to fight for our narrative. VL By Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News (1.5 minute read)  SAN […]

Castro will not run for U.S. Senate

NewsTaco May 1, 2017

By Victor Laneda, NewsTaco (i.5 minute read)    Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) says he will not be running for the U.S. Senate against Ted Cruz. Castro had promised to make […]