Chris Rock Talks About Trayvon Martin, Race In America Today

Comedian Chris Rock inflamed internet racial tensions last month with his accurate quip that the Independence Day we all celebrate on July 4 didn’t actually signal independence for much of the population (as slaves weren’t freed for several more decades), but, in a new interview, the popular stand-up and film star speaks on the issue in a bit more of a direct way.

Chris Rock is known for his light yet spot-on treatment of the issue of being black in America today, with a skill for pointing out truths in such a way that you can laugh while appreciating the gravity of the situation. Rock, now approaching 50 (“New Jack City was a loooooong time ago,”) sat down with the men’s mag Details to talk about a few current events and whatnot recently, and Rock explains not every race issue has a funny side.

On the subject of Trayvon Martin, the interviewer asks if Rock thinks it’s too soon to make jokes about the tragedy. Rock opines that the situation is just sad all around and explains:

“There’s no joke there, unfortunately. It’s sad. When you get old, it’s like, ‘Damn it, I’ve seen this.’ I’m from Bed-Stuy. I marched for Yusuf Hawkins, you know? I don’t totally agree with Bill Cosby. He said it wasn’t racial, it’s a gun issue. Well, it’s a gun-racial issue. You know what makes you approach a six-foot-three black guy in the middle of the night? A gun. Paul Blart’s not supposed to have a gun.”

Rock also addresses Barack Obama’s performance,and suggests that he and the Commander-in-Chief are bros. When asked about talking to a cardboard Obama in his new film, 2 Days In New York, Rock says:

“I mean, if I want to talk to him, I can call him. Dude, being the first black anything sucks. But the country was in shambles, and he’s cleaning it up. If you properly clean a room, it gets dirtier before it gets cleaner. Ever come back to your hotel room before the maids are finished? My God! Republicans are complaining. Romney’s complaining. But Romney’s rich. He doesn’t know shit about cleaning.”

Last month, when we covered the racial tensions unmasked by Chris Rock’s slavery tweet, many commenters expressed that racial strife in the US was by and large an issue of the past — suggesting that discussion of race and prejudice somehow precipitate the conflict rather than the other way around. But Rock recalls a time not too long ago when he experienced a much different America than the one we believe we live in, describing his experiences in school:

“I was [bussed] to a school in Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn in 1972. I was one of the first black kids in the history of the school. There were parents with signs: NIGGER GO HOME. For all intents and purposes, the United States had been practicing apartheid until ’68. I was spit on every day. I had water balloons with piss thrown at me. I was f***ing Carrie.”

Do you think Chris Rock’s view of race in America is the more accurate version, or do you think not talking about racism will somehow magically make it go away?