In a recent interview, comedian Chris Rock makes a lot of thoughtful if not insightful statements. He speaks of the impact of technology (camera video) on comedians testing out their lines on audiences before it’s polished for the road or screen; he speaks of political humor as more just plain funny when its moderate versus farther Left or Right.
But his comments on race are straightforward: it’s not about people getting along as if everyone was at fault, but oppression going away by the oppressors being less so. An excerpt:
Here’s the thing. When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.
So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.
But the thing is, we treat racism in this country like it’s a style that America went through. Like flared legs and lava lamps. Oh, that crazy thing we did. We were hanging black people. We treat it like a fad instead of a disease that eradicates millions of people. You’ve got to get it at a lab, and study it, and see its origins, and see what it’s immune to and what breaks it down.
This last excerpt is especially poignant — a call for the examination and understanding of what happened, not relegating it to closed history books where there’s no lesson to be learned.
I say, “Let the lab work begin!”