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“That’s Racist” is an expression often used in jest to point out the politically incorrect or racially insensitive nature of a post or comment online. It is typically associated with an animated reaction GIF featuring a child mouthing the phrase with the caption “That’s racist!”
The animated GIF comes from a clip taken from the sketch comedy TV series Wonder Showzen, which aired from 2005 to 2006 on MTV2, in an animated sketch titled “Plastic Surgeons Without Borders.” In the skit, a child is shown yelling “That’s racist!” at the camera immediately following the cartoon.
On June 4th, 2005, a YTMND page featuring the GIF titled That’s Racist! was created. On June 16th, 2005, the GIF was submitted to the art sharing website deviantART by user dmario. On May 10th, 2007, the earliest archived 4chan threadfeaturing the GIF was posted on the /b/ (random) board by an anonymous user.
On January 20th, 2008, Body Building Forums member An hero requested the GIF in a thread titled “’That’s racist’ gif”, which received several replies including the original Wonder Showzen GIF, an O RLY version (shown below left), a This is Sparta version (shown below, middle) and an Asian version (shown below, right).
On February 22nd, the Shaggy Bevo Forums member Mr Bean submitted a post titled “’That’s Racist!’ Kid”, in which he mistakenly insisted that the child in the animated GIF was mouthing the words “that’s crazy.” On March 4th, 2009, the Tumblr blog “That is Racist” was launched, which featured racist humor in the form of image macros, videos and animated GIFs. On October 8th, 2009, the TeamRawDog Forums member LL Cool Bizz submitted a post titled “That’s Racist”, which featured the animated GIF in a call to action for other members to submit original racial humor cartoons. On August 11th, 2010, an Urban Dictionary entry for “that’s racist” was submitted by user Kilokahn.
On June 27th, 2011, NPR published an article titled “’That’s Racist!’ How A Serious Accusation Became A Commonplace Quip” that explained the cultural significance and origins of the catchphrase. On November 3rd, the “Yo Is This Racist?” Tumblr blog was launched, which answered submitted questions about whether something was racist or not. On February 6th, 2012, Redditor madturk77 submitted a post titled “That’s Racist” to the /r/gifs subreddit, which featured a photograph of a man wearing a sombrero with the caption “Plays Uno / Steals all the green cards” accompanied by the “That’s racist!” animated GIF (shown below). On May 18th, Redditor LobaltSS reposted the image to the /r/funny subreddit, where it received over 5,800 upvotes and 65 comments within a month. As of July 13th, 2012, a Facebook page titled “That’s Racist” has accumulated over 25,000 likes. The meme has continued to spread on the sites Tumblr and FAIL Blog under the tag “#that’s racist.”
In 2008, the New York City-based alternative hip hop group Das Racist was formed, who rose to Internet fame with the release of their song “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.” According to the Das Racist Wikipedia entry, Das Racist MC Himanshu Suri revealed that the group’s name was inspired by the Wonder Showzen clip in an interview with the Wesleyan University’s Midterm Magazine.
“I think being minorities at a liberal arts college and that type of environment had an impact on both the way we view race and our sense of humor, which people often use as a tool to deal with race. I always felt like Wonder Showzen was a television show that captured that type of thing perfectly. When I saw the little kid yelling “THAT’S RACIST” it blew my mind. And then it became a game … to take all the seriousness out of making legitimate commentary on race, because that can get very annoying. So when something veering on racially insensitive would pop off in a commercial on television or something it would be like, who could yell “That’s Racist” first. And then we thought it would be a cool name. Das EFX may have been an inspiration."
Search query volume for the keywords “that’s racist” rose in September 2005, several months after the first YTMND was created.