Chris Rock on Ferguson, Cosby, and ‘Racial Progress’

Worth a read:  (via Vulture):  Chris Rock Talks to Frank Rich About Ferguson, Cosby, and What ‘Racial Progress’ Really Means.

And, the man has a point:

to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.



FILED UNDER: Entertainment, Quick Takes, Race and Politics, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Stonetools says:

    Heh. Nice reverse on those conservatives who claim that the reason blacks haven’t progressed is because of failings in the black community.
    The more whites treat blacks fairly and equitably, the better blacks do. Funny that.

  2. anjin-san says:

    His point is well taken. The Pittsburgh Crawfords or Kansas City Monarchs could have probably beaten a number of major league teams handily. It’s not as if Jackie Robinson came along and suddenly there was a black player good enough to be on the Dodgers. Players like Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige were always there.

  3. Gustopher says:

    Not loving his domestic violence analogy.

  4. Franklin says:

    I read most of that interview the other day. Chris is actually pretty insightful at times. I guess most good comedians probably are.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I thought it was a brilliant point. Chris Rock might be our next George Carlin.

  6. al-Ameda says:

    Thank you for linking to that interview.
    Frank Rich is so capable, he knows how to do an interview, and Chris Rock is always interesting and perceptive. For the record, I believe that Chris Rock would be excellent as a reporter or correspondent on 60 Minutes, and I miss the regular weekly Frank Rich column in the New York Times (Ross Douthat is weak.)

  7. Guarneri says:

    A public service announcement.

  8. Grewgills says:

    One that totally misses the point he is getting at here. That PSA could just as easily have been warning girls to always watch their beverages, never allow themselves to be alone with a man they don’t know well and trust and even then to be on guard, etc in order not to be raped. Yes, it is unfortunately necessary advice for the society we live in, but it is a statement about society rather than the simplistic message you seem to be taking from it.

  9. rodney dill says:

    I had seen this posted somewhere else previously. I liked the excerpt below.

    When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.

    Though when I’ve heard the term ‘Black Progress’ I’ve thought of it as a measurement of society as a whole, not that just blacks had to change.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: Not sure why you got 3 down votes. I thought it was a weak analogy as well.

    But anyway, to steal somebody else’s line: “Chris Rocks!”

  11. C. Clavin says:

    I thought, when I read it last week, that it was a fantastic framing of the issue.
    Since then, when I’ve seen comments from Limbaugh and Guliani and some others, I’ve thought…yeah, Chris Rock was spot-on.

  12. bill says:

    @michael reynolds: sure, gotta compare him to a white man!
    @Grewgills: um, that’s chris rocks own thing, and it’s pretty spot on. it has lots to do with the ferguson idiocy as well- the double downing of stupidity still grows even after the facts have been made public. when people stop defending black morons who do stupid stuff in “protest” then maybe we can all progress- but holding people unaccountable for their actions is nonsense. there’s nothing “racist” about saying a small part of a community is “wrong” about what they did, and they should be punished and ridiculed.

  13. Grewgills says:


    um, that’s chris rocks own thing, and it’s pretty spot on

    and you missed the broader point of it and his current commentary. It is an unfortunate truth that if a black man doesn’t follow the guidelines of that pretend PSA he can end up dead. If a white man doesn’t follow those same guidelines he is much less likely to end up dead. You want to co-opt his comedy when your narrow reading of it supports a point you want to make and sweep away the broader commentary he was making then and is making now. Chris Rock’s current commentary makes it rather clear that it is you, not me that is misreading him.

    but holding people unaccountable for their actions is nonsense

    I agree, yet the cops are not being held accountable and you seem to be fine with that.

  14. bill says:


    ….I’m not a politician; I’m not a thinker. I’m a comedian.

    ”- chris rock
    there’s no proof of any of that- maybe white people (who don’t seem to get into as much trouble on a per capita basis) know when to “freeze” and put their “hands up”? i know they don’t riot/loot when a black cop shoots an unarmed white kid

    note that this is a huffpost report, and no mention that the cop was black or that the kid was about 130 pounds- not much of a threat to most men.

    and what should happen to cops who do their job- as was the case in ferguson?
    what happened in staten island was pretty weird, his folks have a legitimate gripe- even with his size/ rap sheet he should not be dead.

  15. DrDaveT says:


    i know they don’t riot/loot when a black cop shoots an unarmed white kid

    True, the first straw on the camel’s back generally doesn’t get much of a reaction.

  16. Barry says:

    @Stonetools: “The more whites treat blacks fairly and equitably, the better blacks do. Funny that.”

    Public Enemy had an album titled ‘It takes a nation of millions to keep us down’.

    Read Ta-Nesi Coates’ columns; he documents just how much that is true.