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Chris Rock Does Comedy for White People With a Black Friend

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Listen, to say that Chris Rock has not had his funny moments would ruin my credibility, and I am not here to lose that, especially not over him. But to say that his target audience isn’t more familiar with Target than Walmart, or better yet, Whole Foods over Walmart, would be a lie. 

I was raised in the suburbs. I have been the Black friend. So when I tell you, he makes jokes that make white people feel gentle about their hard views, it’s because I know. I am not sure if my classmate watched Chris’ HBO special, “Bring the Pain,” but what I do know is that I stood there, a Black girl in a world of white, helpless with a response too far out of reach for me to even try to grab it, as my friend told me how he hated Black people but loved n-ggers. I am not sure if Chris Rock’s standup emboldened people like my friend or coincidentally mirrored it. But what I do know is that I was othered, and that made me feel less disconnected to the self I was trying to settle into. The life outside of the Black token friend that was the most survivable for my young teenage self. Even Rock himself lamented that he stopped telling the joke because “some people that were racist thought they had license to say n—–, so, I’m done with that routine.”

Comedians, like any other groups of entertainers, are going to naturally flock together. My friend groups consist of sad writers, actors who are acting like they aren’t sad, and poets who are trying to win money from their sadness. So I imagine that the group of people that Chris Rock is often seen with that are comedians, are not simply his coworkers, but rather his friends as well. Chris Rock, an alum of Saturday Night Live, whose work was featured in the 90s, is still friends with, and has done movies with some of the SNL members of his time, so maybe he keeps them in check. Maybe he did stop Adam Sandler on the way to the post-production of the movie, “the Cobbler,” and tell him that not only was the movie straight trash, but that it was also very racist, and like, Adam just didn’t listen. I guess I would have had an easier time believing that lie had I not seen video footage of him, Louis C.K., Ricky Gervais, and Jerry Seinfeld conversing over certain white men being able to use the word n-gga.  I mean, there was someone who was the voice of reason in the conversation, but it just happened to be Jerry Seinfeld, while Chris Rock not only sat back and laughed but seemed to condone their behavior by laughing at them saying the word. 

On Rock’s latest special, he seems to still ride the face, almost parroting racist talking points. 

His conversation about Meghan Markle and her reaction to her in-laws’ racism and its justification paralleled her comments about the family’s concern about how dark he would be with the same concerns that older Black women have when a new baby is brought into the family, as just some “in-laws sh-t,” as if those very in-laws aren’t themselves parroting white, racist talking points.

This bit is used as a segue into a joke about skin tone, using Steph Curry and Draymond Green’s skin colors as examples. While not actually saying anything negative about Curry, the comedian brought up Draymond’s skin color several times in a disparaging manner. He brings up Will Smith, which was to be expected, but the joke about him gleefully watching Smith get whipped in the movie Emancipation. Like, sir, that movie is literally about slavery. He then ended his commentary with how his parents admonished him not to fight in front of white people, as if they were the guides to the moral compasses of the world. I mean, how he got into his beef with Smith was talking about his wife’s alopecia, and while he didn’t directly reference her condition, he did reference her bald head. For someone who literally did a movie called “Good Hair,” it is hard to trust that he did not know how important Black hair care is for Black women, and calling her “b-tch” after he made fun of her was an interesting take, to say the least. 

And again, I am not here to rag on Rock.

He has had some great moments in entertainment and is deserving of his many achievements, but his specials have garnered him a hardcore fan base that I will never be a part of, and it often feels like it’s more than just my hearing that is the reason why. 

I am not his target audience, but I am the target for his audience. 

Chris Rock never seems to have a problem being the Black friend, and that is absolutely not a problem, but you don’t give your friends carte blanche to say “N-gga,” and don’t expect any backlash. You don’t get to make fun of a Black woman’s hair for an international audience just because you made a documentary about it. You don’t get to make fun of Draymond Green being dark-skinned for white audiences just because you are a few shades lighter, and you don’t get to make fun of n-gga shit and Blackness while the people in your audience laugh at the very Blackness that conceived you. 

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