Campus Life

Comedian takes satirical look at race & culture

By Kelly Russ, University Communications

In a satirical look at race and culture, comedian Elon James White performed for an audience of about 50 in the Music Hall at the University of West Florida’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts.

The performance was part of the John C. Pace Jr. Symposium Series, which is designed to bring distinguished scholars, artists and leaders to Pensacola for lectures, performances and a variety of interactions with faculty, students, staff and the public.

White prefaced his performance by saying he’s just relaying “common sense.”

“I’m not trying to say anything deep,” he said. “I’m just saying things honestly like my mother told me.”

The crowd laughed often and hard, as White put a comical spin on the serious discussion of racism in America, with few topics taboo. He discussed his upbringing with a single mother and a father who spent the majority of White’s life in prison, as well as his experience as a computer analyst in corporate America.

“I worked in corporate America because I loved the sound of my soul crying,” he joked.

As the show turned to pop culture, he addressed the often made point of the effects of gangster rap on the black community and others.

“I listened to gangster rap,” he said. “But I look at rap the same way I look at Harry Potter movies: amazingly entertaining and also in a land of fantasy. You can’t blame music for violence in the community.”

White also addressed racism toward white people, as well, saying racism isn’t just “white on black.”

“There are many reasons blacks don’t like whites,” he said. “I’ve seen the full list. Reason No. 7: Jersey Shore.”

The performance was presented by the Office of Diversity and International Education and Programs at UWF as part of Black History Month. For more information about programs at UWF, visit For more on Elon James White, visit