Black Americas have historically used comedy to cope with the sad realities of racism. Living in what Cornel West called “a perpetual state of emergency” has heightened Black American’s sensitivity to sometimes-subtle social truths. The best of the Black-American comedians cast a fresh light on every day social interactions in sometimes painful but often hilarious ways.
Dave Chappelle is among the best Black-American comedians working today.
Known to the world for his groundbreaking Chappelle Show, Dave Chappelle is also known in the Black community as a gifted stand-up comedian. Don’t be fooled by his aloof weed-filled persona, just below the surface of his relaxed delivery is a sharp comedic mind brimming with insightful social critique.
The Police and Race
Yes, he is exaggerating, but there is truth on display here. Would it be as funny were it not true on some level? Racial profiling is a reality in America. Here, Dave merely explicates in a comedic way what Black Folk have experienced for years.
There is nothing funny about living in the ghetto. The ghetto is crime, disenfranchisement, substandard living conditions, and poor education. The ghetto is many things — one thing it is not is funny. Yet, there is humanity in the ghetto. And for those individuals who are living in such deplorable conditions, the way many people survive is by making art (hip-hop, street art, break dancing) or making jokes. Dave chose the latter.
Diabetes and obesity run rampant within the Black community. Part of the problem is diet. When Chappelle talks about grape juice vs grape drink, he is making a joke, yes, but also a subtle socio-economic critique.
What can I say? Dude’s funny.