Chris Rock: Civil Rights Leaders Didn’t Know How To Demand Money And Land, Obama Was Progress For White People

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Written by Ann Brown
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Chris Rock: Civil rights leaders didn’t know how to demand money and land. Obama was progress for white people. Photo: The-Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, greets comedian Chris Rock, right, after Rock introduced Obama at The Apollo Theater in the Harlem section of New York, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Race relations have long provided material for Chris Rock in his standup comedy routines.

In his 2018 standup special, “Tamborine,” he spoke about the ongoing incidents of police violence against Black people. When asked by The New York Times for his thoughts on police violence still continuing in 2020, Rock said: I remember when “Tamborine” dropped, I got a lot of flak over that cop thing. There was a lot of people trying to start a fire that never really picked up…”

Back in 2014, in an interview with New York Magazine, Rock talked about race relations and America’s first Black president, Barack Obama. At the time, Rock said that despite having a Black man in the White House, things hadn’t improved for Black people — but they had for whites.

Rock’s thoughts have remained pretty much the same.

“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…Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.”

Rock continued, “I said this before, but Obama becoming the president, it’s progress for white people. It’s not progress for Black people…And the real narrative should be that these people, the Black people, are being abused by a group of people that are mentally handicapped. And we’re trying to get them past their mental handicaps to see that all people are equal,” he told the Times.

In the wake of the covid-19 crisis and nationwide protests over racial injustice, “This is the second great civil rights movement,” Rock said in today’s New York Times interview.

Rock is starring in the fourth season of “Fargo” as a crime boss and recently starred in “Spiral,” a reboot of the “Saw” horror series, whose release was postponed for a year to May 2021.

Rock spoke about the state of the country with the Times.

In a sense, he was warning people years ago.

“I did. But so did Public Enemy. So did KRS-One. So did Marvin Gaye. There’s something about seeing things on camera,” Rock said.

When reminded that the videotape of Rodney King’s beating didn’t ensure punishment for the police — at least at first — Rock answered, “Yeah, man. Put it this way: This is the second great civil rights movement.”

The Civil Rights Movement didn’t end the racial wealth gap because civil rights leaders didn’t know how to demand money, Rock said.

“And Dr. King and those guys were amazing. But they knew nothing about money. They didn’t ask for anything. At the end of the day, the things we got — it was just, hey, can you guys be humane? All we got was, like, humanity. If they had it to do all over again, in hindsight, there would be some attention paid to the financial disparity of all the years of — let’s not even count slavery, let’s just count Jim Crow,” Rock pointed out.

Rock continued, “You’re talking about a system that really didn’t end until about 1973. And I’m born in ’65 in South Carolina. I’m probably in a segregated wing of a hospital — there’s no way in the world I was next to a white baby. Even if the hospital wasn’t segregated, I was in a whole other room and that room didn’t have the good milk and the good sheets. My parents couldn’t own property in certain neighborhoods when I was born. There was an economic disparity there, and that was not addressed in the original civil rights movement. It was a huge oversight. So there’s no money and there’s no land. If you don’t have either one of those, you don’t really have much.”

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.

Rock has been telling his audiences for years that racism isn’t going away and remains a potent force in America. And, despite having a Black president, things haven’t improved much for Black Americans. In 2014 he said, “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…”

He added, “Humanity isn’t progress — it’s only progress for the person that’s taking your humanity. If a woman’s in an abusive relationship and her husband stops beating her, you wouldn’t say she’s made progress, right? But that’s what we do with Black people. We’re constantly told that we’re making progress. The relationship we’re in — the arranged marriage that we’re in — it’s that we’re getting beat less.”

Ann Brown
Image Attribution: Chris Rock: Civil Rights leaders didn't know how to demand money and land. Obama was progress for white people. Photo: Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, greets comedian Chris Rock, right, after Rock introduced Obama at The Apollo Theater in the Harlem section of New York, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig), Chris Rock: Civil Rights leaders didn't know how to demand money and land. Obama was progress for white people. Photo: Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, greets comedian Chris Rock, right, after Rock introduced Obama at The Apollo Theater in the Harlem section of New York, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)