Daniel Handler Apologizes for Watermelon Joke
Dear People of America,
Joking about Black people and watermelon is not funny.
Joking about a particular Black person with an allergy to watermelon after she’s won a prestigious literary award?
Especially not funny.
Apparently Daniel Handler, he of Lemony Snicket fame, did not get the memo when he attempted to make a funny out of Jacqueline Woodson’s condition at the National Book Awards on Wednesday.
After Woodson received the young people’s literature prize for Brown Girl Dreaming, Handler shared with the audience: “I told Jackie she was going to win … And I said that if she won, I would tell all of you something I learned about her this summer — which is that Jackie Woodson is allergic to watermelon. Just let that sink in your mind.”
But wait, it gets better (worse?)!
Clearly aware that the “joke” is offensive, he continues by saying he told Woodson to put that in a book and she told him to put it in one of his books, to which he responded:
“I said, ‘I’m only writing a book about a black girl who’s allergic to watermelon if I get a blurb from you, Cornel West, Toni Morrison and Barack Obama saying ‘This guy’s okay, this guy’s fine.'”
You can watch the entire cringe-worthy exchange HERE, courtesy of C-SPAN.
Handler later issued a standard Twitter apology:
My job at last night’s National Book Awards #NBAwards was to shine a light on tremendous writers, including Jacqueline Woodson… -DH [1/2]
— Daniel Handler (@DanielHandler) November 20, 2014
…and not to overshadow their achievements with my own ill-conceived attempts at humor. I clearly failed, and I’m sorry. -DH [2/2] — Daniel Handler (@DanielHandler) November 20, 2014
Welp. Hopefully he learned his lesson … and maybe taught one to others in the process:
Watermelon jokes = not funny.