In today’s edition “Let’s Judge Everyone For Their Flawed Pasts” Chris Rock is catching heat for a 2011 clip the resurfaced on Twitter last night. The HBO clip titled “Talking Funny” features Rock with fellow comedians Louis C. K., Ricky Gervais, and Jerry Seinfeld discussing the craft of writing and performing comedy. All but Seinfeld joke and use the n-word, and Seinfeld is the only one who doesn’t participate in use of the slur and appears visibly uncomfortable.
The conversation starts with Rock stating that C.K. was the “blackest white guy” he has ever met.
Slapping C.K.’s knee, Rock continues, “And all the negative things we think about black people, this f—er.”
C.K. responds, “You’re saying I’m a n—?”
“Yes!” Rock say, as all four comics laughed. “The n—est f—ing white man I have ever…”
Gervais joins in on the exchange which then turns into a conversation on which comedians use the n-word in their acts and which don’t. C.K. goes onto to use homophobic slurs and Gervais discusses political correctness and all four showed disdain for criticism.
But like with many things in the world today, Twitter was not amused. Users and celebrities alike criticized Rock for failing to call out Gervais and C.K. for their use of the slur, while others expressed exhaustion with the trend of crucifying comedians for everything they’ve ever expressed:
I can see why folks think Rock should be the one to call out the fellow comedians on their use of the slur, but at the same time I also tire of black people always being expected to stop everything and give a history lesson every time a white person displays ignorance or racism. I don’t agree with the belief that every single person should stand up and represent the feeling of the whole race at any given time. However, Rock doesn’t seem nearly offended and maybe he isn’t offended. I can only speak for myself when I say that if I was surrounded by my white friends casually talking about their use of the n-word for work or play, I might have fallen back more like Seinfeld rather than chuckling it up like Rock. But let’s be clear: Men like Gervais and C.K. were clearly comfortable using the n-word, more than likely used it before they ever met him, and would have continued to use it whether Rock “shucked and jived” or knocked them both out. Let’s stop acting like white people have ever felt they needed permission.
Everyone’s relationship with the n-word is different and most discussions on who can and cannot use it often fail to reach a consensus. What I will say about this trend of crucifying everyone for every politically incorrect stance they’ve ever taken is that we must remind ourselves that we live in world where will repeatedly be offended and that is an unfortunate part of life. While I’m not saying to ignore ignorance, I will say we will all die from exhaustion if we get elbows deep in our feelings every time we witness or personally experience disrespect. Whether my melanin-challenged suite mates were calling me “nice for a black girl” in undergrad or the homeless woman called me a “light-skinned slut” In Dunkin Donuts the other day because I didn’t have change, learning when to get someone all the way together for being narrow-minded and ignorant and when to get my iced coffee and keep it moving has afforded me a lot of self-care in this life so far. There’s too much injustice happening today for me to crying out in outrage every time I log onto social media and see something from 1998 trending. I just don’t have the energy.
You can check out the awkward conversation below: