I Applaud Chris Rock (and You Should Too)
Let’s just put the sh*t out there so that I can say my piece and be done with it.
I think Chris Rock did a phenomenal job hosting this year’s Oscars. It was racially charged, awkward and poignant. It was direct and uncomfortable. It sparked every single solitary feeling you need to have about racial injustice, discrimination and lack of diversity in this country. And for those of you who thought, “It was a little too much” or “he should have quit after the monologue” or “I don’t get the Stacy Dash thing”, please find the nearest chair, church pew and / or bench and have several seats.
You know what’s too much? Oh, I don’t know, selectively removing a WHOLE RACE OF PEOPLE from consideration for great work. Killing unarmed black men and women unjustly. Systemic corporate racism that promotes the less talented and requires literal rock science from minorities to be considered for a job they could probably do with their eyes shut (considering we’ve been working twice as hard for YEARS to achieve the same corporate visibility). Sitting through a monologue in which you have to uncomfortably feel the result of your complicity isn’t too much. I dare say it’s the least you should receive for turning a blind eye and saying its “no big deal”. You do realize that racism and discrimination are not always blatant offenses, right? You DO get that complicity still holds offense?? Please tell me I’m not saying this to you for the first time?? And while you might want to argue, just look at the TONS of people that are willing to shout, chant and support Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Are. You. Serious?! So you can’t sit through a monologue in which Chris Rock definitively points at the freaking dancing, neon-colored elephant in the room, but when Donald Trump talks about building walls, minimizing women and “taking back our country”, it’s just politics?? Am I missing something??
Oh. I see. So because you’re not related to Sandra Bland and Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin and the Eric Garners of the world, you’ll sit comfortably on your sofa and watch black people die. And you’ll say, “That’s a shame.” But you won’t talk about it. You’ll watch us work hard to show our talents and when given a chance to acknowledge the work, you turn a blind eye. It’s semantics, right? Perhaps ALL of the films brown folks worked in / worked on just weren’t as good, right? Right? And when asked, you’ll simply shake your head and say, “the world needs to change”, but won’t lift a hand to create that change. You wouldn’t dare open your mouth to facilitate the conversation that will shift us towards that change.
Get this straight. If you are not a part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Instead of finding reasons to tear apart Chris Rock’s performance last night, applaud him. Champion him. Put him on your shoulders and parade him triumphantly through the streets for having the balls to go on one of the world’s largest stage and “tell it like it T.I. IS” (as they used to say back in my hood). Don’t run from it. AND, if ANY part of what Chris Rock did or said made you uncomfortable, run towards the solution of it. Dig it out and get to the root of it. Otherwise, you’re complicit … and you might as well metaphorically grab a rope, gasoline and pitchfork because you’re no better than those that did once upon a time.
In the words of Spike Lee, “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP!”
Change starts with you. And when given the chance, you ought to be as brave as Chris Rock. As least he was able to add in a little comedy for levity.
Love you. Mean it.