Why Chris Rock Was On Point With His Independence Day Tweet

Why Chris Rock Was On Point With His Independence Day Tweet

Comedian turned actor Chris Rock has been catching a lot of flack for his tweet about the fourth of July earlier this week. He posted "Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren't free but I'm sure they enjoyed fireworks." The feedback was quick and plentiful on both ends. One tweeter wrote "Dear @chrisrock without July 4, 1776 December 6, 1865 wouldn't have happened." Another stated "@chrisrock good one! I'm sure your Guatemalan house staff got a good chuckle." Actor Don Cheadle took to the comedian's defense with several tweets: "It.Was.A.Joke. Not a statement. Sheesh. Calm down...I didn't bring it up. I retweeted an obvious and absurd joke from a comedian. You all doth protest too much, methinks" after receiving backlash from his fans for retweeting the comment with the words "haha." Chris Rock as of yet hasn't responded to the feedback and has resumed tweeting about unrelated subjects like the NBA Draft.

Frankly, people who have a problem with his tweet are tripping. First of all, he was totally correct. Slaves were not free back in 1776. In fact it took about 90 more years for slaves to gain "freedom" and then almost another 100 years for blacks to have equal rights, which we had to literally fight and die for. I would even argue that in many ways, African Americans are still not free. Yes we have the same opportunities as whites; just like any other race of people. But I think we all can agree that there are certain obstacles such as health disparities, unequal distribution of quality education, and our own issues within our communities that make it a wee bit tougher to take full advantage of said opportunities. As I drove down Lake Shore Drive on Independence Day, I thought the same exactly thing as Rock. Yes we are American. Yes we are free in the sense that we are not physically chained, beaten and thrown scraps. But how free are we really? African Americans make up roughly 12% of the U.S. population, but account for more than half of the prison population. Don't get me wrong, blacks are just as responsible for their state in this country as the rest of the world. African Americans must be the change that they want to see regardless of the obstacles that we face.

Second of all, he is a COMEDIAN. Not an activist. Not a politician. Not anyone of influence who is directly tied to the public sphere of race relations and democracy. Comedians discuss race all of the time and this isn't the most controversial thing that has come out of Chris Rock's mouth. He's always talking about race relations in his standup routines and everyone USUALLY laughs. So why the tripping now? Don Cheadle said it best in one of his many tweets: "Where exactly is the bigotry in that joke? Who is the victim? 18th century whites?" Why are you so offended? You wasn't even born in the 18th century." The reason why I believe people get so bent out of shape about comments like this is because they are true. The last thing that people who want to pretend that racism doesn't exist want is to be reminded that it does.

NEWSFLASH: The only way to completely dissolve racism is to have open honest conversations about it. People need to realize that race affects all of us. It isn't just a black white problem or a black Hispanic problem. All of us have to participate. For example, undeserved communities may not directly affect privileged white folks but it indirectly contributes to the tension that exist between the two groups. Chris Rock was right in every sense of the word and doesn't deserve to be criticized for speaking truth and being a comedian. So lighten up America. After all this is the land of the free which last time I checked included free speech.




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  • You can see his tweet as a joke or statement, it still says the same thing. Do Americans still see Germans and Japanese as Axis powers? I think not, and WWII was much more recent than the abolitionist movement. Granted, blacks were not given the same military opportunities as others, whether that be from official rule or petty racism among personnel.

    But this is 2012. What bothers me most about your post is how you touch upon present oppression. We are Americans. Call it African American if you want, but there are Africans that are not black, and there are blacks that are not African. Just be American.

    I have a lot of respect for Chris Rock, and his story is truly American. He found what he loved and was good at, and he went for it. But just because he is a comedian, it doesn't mean everything he says is a joke. You can't stand behind his statement so heavily and also dismiss it as lighthearted.

    I don't mean this in a cruel way, but frankly... if you don't feel free or feel like you're surrounded by the alien majority, go to Africa. Your ancestors may have been slaves; you are not! If you want to dig up my Confederate great-great-great grandfather and piss on his coffin, go ahead. Take Cheadle's words to heart yourself and stop complaining about earlier times that had nothing to do with you except bloodlines.

    You say the only way to dissolve it is to get it out in the open. But who is making it an issue? You are. We should be past this already, but it's individuals like you who keep the racial lines intact. I know true racists out there exist. But for the most part, I think it's just people who want to identify themselves with something, not unlike feuding college sports teams. They heckle other teams and show pride in themselves. You obviously identify yourself in a group. "We" and "our"... you've taken a side, your article is subjective, and you should admit that that itself is racist.

  • In reply to Naldjooones:

    Nald, you completely missed the point of my post and that's unfortunate. Touching on present circumstances is a great way to truly see how far we've come. Of course I use the term African American. How else would you know if I'm referring to blacks in America? and yes I use the term "we" because I am black and it feels weird to talk about African Americans from the perspective of not including myself. Nice reference to Africa. What you have to understand tho is that I AM NOT FROM THERE. Never been although I do plan on taking a vacation one day. Unfortunately your response to my post rings so dead on to that of those who want to pretend that race doesn't exist.

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    White people tend to have this (most of them) "it's true but let's not talk about it" mentality. It's like they're almost comfortable in their ignorance. As for so long then we as Blacks didn't have a choice but to be, but now when occasions like this arrives, they want us to get over it. If racism was gone, we could. Someone said if it were a white person to have said this, it would be an uproar. Maybe so. But does anyone celebrate Juneteenth, let alone know what it is??? Is African AMERICAN history a required course in the school curriculum? No. They're only mad because it's true and it makes them look bad for celebrating a hypocritical holiday.

    And besides that humor is a way to deal with the truth...by laughing at it, but we all know deep inside there's no denying.

    But somehow today, people think July 4th is celebrating independence for all Americans. And to say anything that offensive would be unpatriotic, I think not acknowledging that fact about July 4th is unpatriotic. To be a proud American means acknowledging that history. The good, the bad, the ugly. Almost everyone that has come to this country has a blood line they can trace, has a distinct culture all their own. Whether you're Chinese, Mexican and even White. Black people in a sense don't have that. Sure, read a book right? But the simple fact AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY IS NOT ACKNOWLEDGED IN AMERICAN HISTORY IS THE REASON WHY BLACKS FEEL THE WAY WE DO. We know more about white people than we know about ourselves. So what do they know about us? And what do they try to learn? Have you celebrated Juneteenth? DId you know why it took almost 100 years to abolish slavery? Not because they thought it was wrong and felt sorry, but because they were losing a war. And we as Americans fought in that. You can not change history nor the meaning of the holiday because of the way you feel now.

  • In reply to Sb Vibes:

    SB Vibes. Thanks for your response. I don't want to say that most white people like to pretend that race doesn't exist because there's just as many people of color who wear the shades a lot. I agree with your point about humor. Many comedians do take very serious societal issues and make a joke out of them. Part of me wonders how much of an affect the medium had on it. If he would have said it in standup vs. on Twitter.

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    In response to Nald...

    It would be nice to go back to Africa if we truly knew WHERE we came from. But our history has been dissolved and pushed aside, most of which is not accredited and ignored because it puts AMERICAN history in an acceptable light.
    America is a very segregated country, and still the undertone of racism is prevailant. Just because it's not as open as it was in the 60's does not mean it does not exist. People want to quiet the dissatisfaction of those directly affected by because they're not the ones being victimized. When Black people speak up about the problems we face in America, about our dark history that we share with everyone else, we are seen as angry people who are angry for no reason or people that want to play the race card. But if we're quiet about it, I guess we're happy Americans. Every nationality that came to this country has a history and it would be wrong for me to say don't acknowledge your history. A few months ago, my Mexican co-worker explained to me their day of independence. And I respected that. But Blacks have always been disrespected in a sense to where we are thrown in the shadows of this American light. So we are not seen in a sense. This is AMERICAN history and we HAVE THE GOT DAMN choice to not like it and express how we feel. We are the present voices of our ancestors. And we are the product of their services, be it good, bad, or ugly. And so are you. Don't deny the history, don't cover it up, learn about where you came from to see where you're going.

  • SB,
    Just last year I wrote a four-page article about Crispus Attucks, I know pretty much everything about Bleeding Kansas my brain can take, and I read some pretty awful descriptions of pre-Civil War racial injustice. This was all in a prerequisite History course I had to take so I can get into nursing school. There were about thirty students in the class, not a single one black. I don't know where you're talking about being thrown in the shadows, but it's certainly not happening here in Oklahoma. Black history was touched upon and appreciated as much as anything else.

    I don't mind if a person wants to discuss their family and cultural history, whether it be good or bad. But I wish they would stop complaining about how it affects them today. You say "problems we face" about family from a different era. I sympathize with them; I don't with you. Black history in America is fascinating as it is horrifying. Black social standing in America now is as boring as anyone else's.

    So celebrate and remember your people's history. Chris Rock is right. Blacks weren't free at the time, and I agree that it's a hypocritical holiday. The Founding Fathers were oppressed by the British, and at the same time were seeding a government which oppressed an entire race. Fortunately, the Constitution was meant to be ratified.

    But does that mean anything a white person does to celebrate their history is hypocritical? You claim that racism is still here, so if we have a day to celebrate white people month, that's racist? If I create a White Entertainment Television channel, is that racist too? (WET isn't a good name though lol) Black people have both of those things. That's fine. Have your culture and define yourself and mark your place in the world. But I can't because someone else that shared my skin color was racist?

    I see any other American as my equal. That being said, I do not believe any non-underprivileged people born today should be compensated for or given rights denied the rest of society. I grew up in a town with a racially mixed school, and we were not treated equally. If I forgot to bring my pencil, it's borrow from a classmate or detention. If one of the Indians (Native Americans, take your pick) forgot, they're allowed to leave class to swipe one from their taxpayer-funded program.

    This year, the same group of people with special rights, is receiving part of a one billion dollar settlement for their lands being mismanaged. That sucks that it happened, but I had nothing to do with it. And the government gets to step in and apologize and throw money around some more.

    They got their casinos that whites were not allowed to own until gambling laws changed. They get free license plates, government-issued scholarships, and a check in the mail every month. Just for being born! Yes, I'm sorry about what happened to the Native Americans. Andrew Jackson was an evil man. But the only affiliation I have with him is his picture in my wallet on a good day.

    Compensating for past wrongdoings of those who have died long ago does not make people equal. That is the kind of thing that hits my racist nerve more than anything. So when I hear about oppression today, I feel like I'm being pinned as the oppressor when I have nothing to do with any of it. The sins of our fathers are not our own. I'm no patriot; I can make up my own mind about what is right and wrong.

    I don't know what I'm supposed to say to make you feel better. Just let you talk about racism? Claim I'm not racist? What exactly do you see as a racist-free country short of everyone being the same color? I get that the past happened. I get it. I understand. I'll say please and thank you to you as I would to the next black or white person in a store.

    I'm sorry you don't have a blood line you can trace, but what can I do about it? The "it's true but let's not talk about it" mentality applies to just about anything negative that I have nothing to do with. I'll acknowledge it and develop my own thoughts on it, but that's about where it ends for me.

    It's like your friend's cat bites them, so they call you up because you picked one of the kittens from her litter like two years ago. You're sorry it happened, but you don't really have anything to do with it. And they're telling you how much it hurts, and there's nothing you can do, but they just go on and on about it. You get bored So your friend gets angry at you and feels like you don't appreciate their position no matter what you say. It gets old.

    This mentality like you said is how most white people are. But just because someone doesn't appreciate or listen to what you have to say, it doesn't mean they hate you. You're mistaking disinterest for racism.

  • In reply to Naldjooones:

    Hey Nald, I agree with a lot of your comments and disagree with some too. Won't comment on everything though. The issue with BET / WET, I think you're missing the point. Most of the media is owned/operated/founded by someone Caucasian. So you could call all of it WET, and that would be fair. Some black people might scream but still fair. :) The real issue is how else would you attempt to empower a group of people who have been told "you're not good enough", "you'll never be x y z" "your race is x y z"? For someone from another race that would probably not be needed. I think that is the perspective you should look from. If BET hadn't done it who else would? The government? And I would argue that had it not been for BET a lot of black actors would not get the exposure to allow other races to see that they're just as good as anyone else. But hey, I'm no expert.

    I'm black by the way, but not American. I happen to live in a different part of the world

  • In reply to Naldjooones:

    Go back to Africa? I seen this comments from white racist (which is strange as you claim to be anti racist). This comment is mostly it is not an argument about Africa but about the kindness of white people. It makes the point that White Americans have been nicer to black people than anyone else in the world, even nicer than black Africans would be. First, it assumes that African Americans are richer in America because White Americans have been kinder to them than Africans would be. Wrong: blacks are richer in America because America is richer. The pie is so big in America that even when it is divided unjustly, as it is, it still leaves most people with more pie than any ordinary person would get in the Third World. Which is why people from the Third World come to America: poverty is worse than racism. But that does not excuse racism. The argument also overlooks how Africa got to be so poor and screwed up. It turns a blind eye to the effect of the Atlantic slave trade on Africa and the effect of white rule, both direct (colonial empires) and indirect (banana republics).
    I have come to the conclusion over thirty years that most “white” people who talk about racism don’t get it; many don’t even want to get it. They just want to sound off and go home feeling justified that they’re not that bad, and that black people are the prejudiced ones.
    I don’t find anything in this post at all questionable, but I can understand why it has already elicited sarcasm. Even many white “liberals” who fancy themselves free of prejudice reflect the racial narcissism and “infallibility” that YOU have attributed to the writer. In fact, there is no claim to infallibility in this post, only the voice of one seasoned by reality and an understanding of the nature of things pertaining to what Frederick Douglass called “a peculiar form of aristocracy.” As long as white people insist that the world works for everyone the way it works for them, they won’t get to square one. That’s why there are no roads to anti-racism for white people that do not lead back to John Brown, who is a key historical and spiritual figure for any white who wishes to come to terms with this truth. To no surprise, there is a deep well of contempt for Brown in this society.
    The problem with a lot of you white American, like most white SA is that you’re too self serving to have an honest debate about race and history, too self centred to be fair.

    By the way Nald, there are many channels that are White Entertainment Television–they are called NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, the Home and Garden Channel, TLC, etc

    I am not even African American, but I am married to an African American man. Like many whites, you don’t notice whiteness. Schools, neighborhoods, churches, fraternities, and other groups and organizations that are create for whites are not marked as such. Part of the reason we don’t call our groups white is that we don’t even realize that these groups are catering to us. Part of being white means not having to think about whiteness and the opportunities it grants. In fact, even thinking about whiteness makes many of whites uncomfortable, which is why the reaction to BET is so strong. There is a knee jerk reaction that says “calling something white is wrong so calling something black is wrong.

    Inconclusion, your premise are too self serving and self centred. I would love to go on explain how slavery still affects blacks today, but I get the feeling it would wasted on you.

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    This would be a great argument...if it wasn't complete wrong.The Revolutionary War started April 19, 1775 and ended September 3, 1783. NOBODY was actually free in 1776. But, it was that battle and spirit for freedom that continues some 80 or so years later, when a whole slew of whites died to help defeat slavery. Granted, subsequent prejudices and racisms continued on (even today) from both sides but, that is something that we ALL should continue working on. Hey Chris, do some homework the next time...

  • In reply to Barry Glickman:

    Barry, I agree. Racism is something that we all should be working on. 1176 is the year that Americans declared independence from Britain. The fact of the matter is that our founding fathers never intended for slaves to be free. If they had, then there would be no need for the Emancipation Proclamation or the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The thing that I cannot understand is why so many people are offended.

  • Every "race" has been enslaved at some time in their history. The "Pie" in the US isn't unjustly divided it's divided by those who are strong enough to cut their own slice of the pie.

    You can not joke about important things unless you make it ridiculous. I though Chris Rock would have at least taken that much from George Carlin.

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    Chris Rock? On point? Please do your research. You can agree all you want, but don't blatantly lie to support your opinion. True, slavery wasn't abolished till decades later, but free and freed black Americans fought in the Revolutionary war. This exhibits not only that blacks fought freely for their own beliefs and reasons but "whitey" freed some of their slaves during this time as well. Just because the end of slavery wasn't put on paper in 1775 doesn't mean it didn't start there. This isn't even a debate about perception. A man is free or he isn't.

  • In reply to Miqueas Promontorio:

    one question Miqueas...where am I lying?

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