Chris Rock & The Not-So-Secret Secret About Independence Day (Blog) / by Shanelle Gabriel

Slavery existed in America.


There. I said it. I let the cat out of the bag. I'm un-American for saying that. I'm not a real citizen. I must not love my country for stating a simple unavoidable fact: that the people who'd later be known as Americans and United States Citizens did some effed up things to create the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave." I'm thinking it would also be wrong for me to say that I believe it's dismissive and degrading to a whole race of people to credit Christopher Columbus for discovering a land already discovered and inhabited by people (whether you view their culture as primitive or not). Apparently, stating simple US History is banned and not allowed anymore. To bring up any blemishes in our country's past history regarding race, even if elements of it still rear its ugly head today, is considered un-patriotic and downright petty."We have a Black President, for peet's sake. Can't you folk get over it?" 


Chris Rock found it fair commentary to tweet this past 4th of July: "Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren't free but I'm sure they enjoyed fireworks."

In less than 140 characters, Chris Rock seemingly offended many of his fans and several political commentators who now vow not to support him or any of his films.  People seem to forget that Rock has built a LOT of his career as a comedian on jokes that highlight racism and stereotypes in America. Think of his discussion on who's allowed to live in his neighborhood in his stand-up Never Scared or the episode of HBO's The Chris Rock Show where he searched for opinions on designs for a new Confederate Flag (one flag said "It's O K-K-K" and another flag had a picture of a Ritz cracker on it.) Rock is no stranger to racial commentary. So, it's almost comical to see him receive backlash for one tweet that stated the fact that when Americans decided to celebrate their freedom from Great Britain, there was a whole group of the population who were not in a position to celebrate. They probably didn't get the day off either. (Who do you think probably cleaned up after the parades and parties?)


In response, Jeff Schreiber, who is the managing editor of the blog "America's Right" tweeted, "Slavery existed for 2000yrs before America. We eradicated it in 100yrs. We now have a black POTUS. #Go ___ Yourself. I'm not saying we're blameless for that horrid practice, but for @ChrisRock to indict the US as he did is inappropriate at best." Apparently some feel you should not speak of such horrid things. Rock shouldn't indict America on a crime that it ACTUALLY committed. On America's birthday? That's just tasteless. Besides, it only took 100 years to eradicate slavery… 


Eradicate. Interesting word. That would assume that right after slavery was deemed unconstitutional Black were fully welcomed and integrated into society and were given equal rights, equal pay, and fresh start at an American life. The word "eradicate" would ignore the institution of sharecropping and convict leasing, forms of slavery but under different names, the latter leading to the future justification of the present-day disproportionate incarceration of Black males. Yes, eradicated would insinuate that once abolished, Blacks were not subject to negative stereotypes in media and entertainment, and the slavery mentality is not part of the reason why friends of mine still pinch their kids noses so "it will be pretty and won't spread," why Black children are more likely to be labeled special education for common childhood behaviors, or why a Black teenager with a hoodie on is deemed threatening and is more prone to be stopped and frisked by police. 


But, fireworks, apple pie, and Obama make it all better, right?


With the rise in ethnic studies being banned from the public school education system because of districts feel the not-so-nice facts in history "promote hatred towards White people," when is it okay to speak of the reality of our tarnished relationship with race in America? I don't hear the Germans saying, "Yo, I wish these Jewish people would stop talking so much about the Holocaust. They opened ANOTHER museum? Gosh!" But for some reason, to even mention the atrocities that were committed against Blacks of today is a cause for controversy and retaliation. Chris Rock exercised his right to free speech, a right his forefathers didn't have when the 4th of July was first celebrated or for decades after, and apparently a right that some people would rather he not have now. How ironic that you are not free to exercise your freedom to speak on how a race didn't have freedom on a day the country celebrates its freedom. People need to learn to not be so defensive about an era of our history that does not need defending.