This clip comes from a 2010 episode of the late-night show “Lopez Tonight.” Host George Lopez’s guest is rapper Snoop Dogg, who is there to receive the results from a DNA test that investigated his ethnic background. Central to the clip is a competition between Snoop Dogg and former professional basketball player Charles Barkley to see “who is blacker?” When the DNA test results are revealed, Snoop Dogg is found to have 71% Sub-Saharan African heritage, compared to Barkley’s 75%. Lopez concludes the segment by giving Snoop a gag gift of “things that white people like.”
What is the relationship between a person’s ethnic identity and their actual genetic racial background? Does it matter “what percentage” a person is with respect to a specific continental heritage in terms of their everyday life? Do people treat someone differently based on these percentages, or do other factors dictate how a person’s race is handled in society?
What do you make of the “competition” between Barkley and Snoop Dogg? What are they competing for, exactly, and why? Who did you expect to be “blacker”, by these genetic standards, and why?
Why does Lopez give Snoop Dogg a gift of “things that white people like”? What does this joking gesture say about the way we understand racial identity?