Students pack Plachta Auditorium for 'N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK' comedy show

Dionysio Basco, Jackson McQueen and Rafael Agustin perform skits as part of the N*GGERR WEB*ACK CH*NK performance at Plachta Auditorium Thursday evening. The three showed the ways minorities are effected by racial slurs. (Photo by Kaitlin Thoresen/Staff Photographer)

The only race that matters is the human race.

This was the message of "N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK," a comedy show that analyzes language and race in the U.S. Rafael Agustin, Dionysio Basco and Jackson McQueen have toured the act in 41 states.

“America was supposed to be a great melting pot, but it’s more about segmentation,” Agustin said.

About 1,100 students filled Warriner Hall's Plachta Auditorium Thursday to watch the three actors of different ethnicities share their personal struggles with cultural identity, said Program Board President Steve Lewis, an Allegan senior.

The actors began the event by listing common stereotypes about their ethnicities. They said stereotypes are often untrue and people lose their identities when they are labeled.

“If we’re not what the cliches say we are, then what are we?” Basco said.

They said each ethnicity has positive qualities and people should not be confined to stereotypes. Basco said he is tired of the stereotype that all Asians are intelligent and joked that if he were black, he would be considered cool and tough.

“You realize those are just more stereotypes, right,” McQueen said.

“Yeah, but I like yours better than mine,” Basco responded as the audience burst into laughter.

The performers acted out humorous scenarios including a “Chinese Superman,” a “black Santa” and a “Latino Jesus.”

After the audience's laughter calmed, the trio said the skits were only funny because many see the scenarios as improbable. They said negative stereotypes can limit people’s potentials.

“Three words that label people that became ways to hurt people,” McQueen said, referring to the show’s title.

Prudenville sophomore Jenny Mendham said the show was eye-opening and hilarious.

“It made me realize just how unfair it is,” she said. “Language should bring us together, not tear us apart.”

Bay City junior Kasey McFarland said she was impressed with the performances.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they went off with a bang,” she said.

McFarland said she appreciated the actors’ direct approach to the discussion of language and race.

“I feel like with a subject like race, there’s no other way to go about it,” she said.

Keisha Janney, assistant director of Minority Student Services, said the group performed at Central Michigan University a few years ago and it was invited back because of popular student demand.

Janney said "NWC" effectively examined the use of language in society.

“It’s also to remind people that words have power and we give them that meaning,” she said. “Words have been used to hurt people in the past.”

Janney said she hopes students that attended the event take away a better understanding of stereotypes and language.

“Remember the laughs, but remember the message, too,” she said.