Chris Rock Says Election Of Barack Obama Was ‘Progress For White People’

Chris Rock attends the FX Networks' Star Walk Winter Press Tour 2020 at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 09, 2020.
Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

During an exclusive interview with The New York Times, comedian Chris Rock opened up about the election of Barack Obama and the state of racism in the United States.

At one point, Rock was asked about his repeated claim that bigotry is a “potent force” in America and whether he believes it’s going away anytime soon.

“It’s real. It’s not going away. I said this before, but Obama becoming the president, it’s progress for white people. It’s not progress for Black people.”

The comedian then compared the election of the former president to the case of Jackie Robinson, who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the 20th century.

“It’s written like he broke a barrier, as if there weren’t Black people that could play before him. And that’s how white people have learned about racism. They think, when these people work hard enough, they’ll be like Jackie.”

According to Rock, the “real narrative” should be that African Americans are facing large-scale abuse that makes them “mentally handicapped.”

“And we’re trying to get them past their mental handicaps to see that all people are equal,” he said. “Humanity isn’t progress — it’s only progress for the person that’s taking your humanity.”

Rock claimed that the U.S. Black population is constantly told about the purported advancements made with regard to racial bias in America. In reality, the comedian argued that the abusive relationship they are in still exists — but they are getting abused less.

Chris Rock performs during the the Movement Voter Project comedy benefit at The Bell House on October 24, 2018.
  Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

Rock’s criticism of the Robinson narrative echoed Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi, who used a Substack piece to criticize Robin J. DiAngelo’s best-selling book, White Fragility, for painting the athlete’s story in a similar manner. According to Taibbi, DiAngelo also suggested that Robinson was the first Black athlete who had the skill required to compete with Caucasian baseball players. Taibbi claimed that this achievement was a result of both his athletic talent and courage in facing the structural racism in MLB.

Rock is also not the only one who has been critical of Obama’s presidency. The former president has faced criticism for his decision to bail out Wall Street during the 2008 financial crisis, which reportedly harmed the wealth of African Americans in the middle class the hardest. Per Jacobin, this wealth only returned to its pre-crisis level by 2016, although at this time, Black home equity was allegedly still reduced by $16,700.

According to the publication, the former U.S. leader had the financial, legal, and legislative power to minimize the damage from the foreclosure crisis but chose not to use it.