Years Ago, Dave Chapelle Taught a Comedy Audience a History Lesson About Black People and Police
For the past few weeks, protests have erupted across the country marching against the unfair treatment of Black people by law enforcement. While police brutality in the Black community is not a new phenomenon, the topic was brought to the forefront after the death of George Floyd while he was being arrested by Minneapolis police officers.
Comic Kenny DeForest recently shared a Twitter thread about the time his good friend Dave Chapelle made a surprise appearance at the Knit in Williamsburg, Brooklyn back in 2015. Instead of his usual set, Chapelle took the opportunity to educate the audience about the complicated history between Black people and police.
It was an eye-opening experience and many in the audience appreciated how Chapelle broached the difficult subject.
He’s asking for topics and riffing perfectly. Then someone shouts, “Police brutality.”
The audience is mixed and feeling good. But the tone of the show changes.
Chapelle knows his history. He patiently puts the white audience members in their places.
John Crawford III was killed for looking at a BB gun for sale inside a Walmart. There was very little media coverage over the incident.
Then Chapelle tells his own story about getting pulled over by law enforcement. He didn’t know what could happen to him.
This was the same officer who would later gun down Crawford. Then, Chapelle goes further back in time to South Africa’s reckoning with racism.
Later, the white girl with the hat wanted to meet him. Chapelle was glad to have her come back.
She admits her eyes were opened to the true and inexcusable racism Black people deal with on a daily basis. She wants to be part of the change for good.
He has taken his time and energy to educate her and the rest of the audience.
So gracious. A class act.
He inspired his audience to be part of the critical mass.
There’s never been a more perfect time than now to post this thread. I think Chapelle would approve.
Fans of DeForest and Chapelle recalled being there that night.
It even inspired some great art.
Chapelle uses his personal story to encourage the “critical mass.”
It can’t be easy to talk about his experience over again, but he does it to be part of the solution.
If you remember his Chapelle Show, you may remember how funny it was but also how smart.
Nothing was off limits.
Chapelle is a brilliant comic who makes you think. One of the best parts of this thread is hearing his voice throughout.
People, let’s start caring and get this critical mass moving!