I’m behind on my Empire watching, so I must confess I couldn’t tell you what DeRay Davis did on the FOX drama about hip-hop, but after watching his first Netflix special, I learned just how many other projects he had popped up in the background of over the years.
The bit of his that pops the most for me is something I saw him perform earlier this year in Brooklyn at a Father’s Day showcase, where he cuts through the racial divide between Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter with a seemingly simple yet overlooked solution.
In How to be Black, the title isn’t meant to be taken literally. Rather, as I wrote in my review for Decider:
Though he filmed his special in Atlanta, Davis finds himself returning time and again to his roots in Chicago, whether it’s to make fun of white casting agents for suggesting Davis wasn’t black enough in his audition for a Chicago gang member, or to describe filming scenes for Empire in a dangerous neighborhood in the Windy City. The truth about acting black, as he says, isn’t in your voice or your wardrobe, but in your attitude. “Acting black is being broke, but acting like you’re rich.” His lighthearted anecdotes about his hometown prompt him to acknowledge that he should say or do more about the recent uptick in gun violence there, although he stops short of getting too political, calling Trump ‘President Dude’ instead. “Yes, ‘President Dude.’ I will not say his name and give him power.”