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"Classroom discussion topics/questions for 'Your New Skin Color'"

Thursday 7/29/21

Why does Julie want to stay and hear the whole performance?

Is the narrator complicit in what the comedian is saying by not doing anything?

The narrator has a theory about how most comics are. Do you think he would have changed his ideas by the end of the night?

Do we know that the comic hates Black people? Can someone make these kinds of jokes and not be a racist? What does it mean if we find ourselves laughing at parts of his routine?

Does the narrator behave as he does towards Julie because of her race? Does not knowing how to act stop him from taking a bigger stand? Has he been the best friend he can be to her?

Julie seems to take the events of the night better than the narrator does. Why? Or does it only look like she takes them better?

Is it wrong for the narrator to laugh at the end when Julie makes her joke on the street? Would it be wrong to try and not to laugh? What kind of laughter is this? Is it nervous laughter? The laughter of relief?

Julie seems like a very strong woman. How does the author show us that strength?

Does the best humor have to contain truth? What is the relationship between true comedy and true tragedy? Is the very best laughter in some ways also sad?

What is the role that humor can play in helping us face adversity? How can humor help us bring out truths?

Do you feel bad for the comic at all?

Why is there a shift in tenses to the present tense when Julie confronts the comedian?

Does the narrator feel guilt that maybe he shouldn’t feel? Are there other kinds of guilt that he should feel that maybe he doesn’t?

How can we tell what truly good friends these two people are? How do they try and help each other, even when they’re coming from very different places and experiences?

Why is the story titled the way it is?


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