The Healing Heroics of Humor
by Jesal Patel
Haha. Hee Hee. HAHAHA.
They say laughter is the best medicine, it is also very accessible and provides a less capitalist form of healing. Jokes aside, humor has had a huge impact on my life. I was not aware of its impact, however, until I came to Pomona College.
Growing up in the conservative core that is Arkansas, comedy was not a critical component of my life. Of course, I would laugh every now and then, but the laughter just wasn’t pure. I would often laugh at the expense of others and at very inappropriate/distasteful jokes. I was a product of my conservative, sexist, racist and homophobic environment. After I came to Pomona and started getting heavily involved with AAMP, the AARC, and Asian American Studies, I became more aware of the way systematic oppression manifests itself and why some of the jokes I previously found funny were rooted in these systems and hxstories. The lack of these jokes did not hinder the humor from my life, however.
After realizing how deeply flawed our white, hegemonic, cisheteropatriarchal society is, humor has become a means of healing for me; insecure and uncomfortable laughs have become necessary at times to cope with the struggles. Laughter itself will not resolve these heavily ingrained issues, but it is a form of resilience that will empower me to continue trying. Having the empathy and support of my friends and laughing with them helps my efforts by allowing me to momentarily forget about all the societal issues and live in the present, blissful moment.
I feel like people, especially in activist spaces, occasionally undervalue the healing capacity of humor. We often become so worked up trying to combat oppression that we forget to center our work in love and compassion. Humor provides a glorious gateway into this healthy cycle of activism and community-building.
Laughter, like community, however, is something you cannot force as it comes organically. I wish to foster both throughout my life and luckily, they are not mutually exclusive. Below is a video of me laughing, healing, and resisting!