Dave Chappelle turned a local pavilion in his Ohio town into his personal performance venue during the pandemic, and right out of the gate last month, he addressed the Black Lives Matter protests that sprung up in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the knees of the Minneapolis Police Department.
Netflix decided to post it within days to YouTube, free for all. And Chappelle wasn’t about to apologize for not being quite as funny as you might have expected or hoped.
Here and now, though, Chappelle is standing up and speaking out, in part to support his fellow Ohioan, LeBron James, denouncing FOX News anchor Laura Ingraham for telling James to “shut up and dribble.” Chappelle says we’re all angry because institutions have lied to us for too long. “The only reason people want to hear from people like me is because you trust me,” he said. “You don’t expect me to be perfect.”
He may misremember the date of the Northridge earthquake, but he has not forgotten the names of Christopher Dorner, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, Dylann Roof, Michael Brown or Philando Castile.
He may have forgotten to include one name in his Saturday Night Live monologue from 2016, and that name will surprise you as much as it surprised him.
But he has never forgotten that “the cop that murdered John Crawford (III) pulled me over the night before and let me off with a warning.” Crawford, 22, was shot and killed inside a Walmart in nearby Beavercreek, Ohio, in 2014, four days before Brown’s shooting death in Ferguson, Mo., and Chappelle says Crawford’s name got “lost in the sauce.”
Chappelle knows all too well how, without his fame (or even despite it), his name is another link in the chain of America’s reckoning with slavery and racism. And he claims we need spaces to talk and joke as much as we need spaces to march, because the alternatives are not quite so peaceful.
“I don’t mean to get heavy, but we gotta say something!”