Dave Chappelle Once Delivered ‘Incredibly Powerful’ Lesson About ‘Racism’ To White Heckler
By Shakiel Mahjouri.
The renewed Black Lives Matter movement reminds comedian Kenny DeForest about a powerful exchange Dave Chappelle once had with a heckler.
DeForest tweeted the story on Thursday and it has since been retweeted by late-night host Jimmy Kimmel. Chappelle made a surprise appearance at the The Knit comedy club in Brooklyn in 2015 just days after the death of Eric Garner. Chappelle asked the crowd for headlines to riff on. Twice in 15 minutes the subject of police brutality was brought up.
“So Chappelle starts talking about Eric Garner and watching him get murdered in cold blood on camera and how it makes him scared for his children,” he said. “I remember he said ‘I thought body cams would help, but what good is video evidence if y’all don’t care?”
“A clearly privileged white girl (she had a wide-brimmed felt hat for chrissakes) shouts ‘Life’s hard, sorry ’bout it!’ and it takes the air completely out of the room. A collective gasp,” DeForest continued. “Chappelle zeros in on her. ‘What did you say?’ She repeats it. Chappelle starts going in.”
It was not a good day to be that wide-brimmed hat-wearing girl.
“Chappelle then tells a story about getting pulled over in rural Ohio where he lives. This is before the Crawford shooting but after Ferguson so racial tension is bubbling. He said ‘I may be white on paper, but I’m still black. So I’m nervous,” Chappelle shared. “He says ‘the cop approaches and he can tell I’m nervous.””I have both my hands on the wheel and I say ‘officer my license and registration is in the glove box. I’m going to reach for them now. I promise I’m not armed,'” the comedian continued. “I could tell the officer was offended that I was nervous. He said ‘I know who you are Dave Chappelle’ & I said ‘so why do you need my license and registration?'” He gets off with a warning.”
“The twist? The same cop would go on to murder John Crawford III,” DeForest revealed. “His take away: ‘I shouldn’t have to be Dave Chappelle to survive police encounters.'”
The tone in the room completely changed.
“It was incredibly powerful. The crowd was sombre and silent,” DeForest said. “Hat girl is humiliated and her friend even more so. Hat girl speaks first: ‘I just wanted to say I’m sorry for what I said and thank you for educating me. I was ignorant before, but I want you to know I learned from you tonight and I won’t say things like that anymore.'”
“Chappelle responds ‘You’re ok. That’s all we can ask. Know better, do better. I want to thank YOU for hearing me and listening. That’s your role. And now you know. Now you’re part of that critical mass we talked about and next time you hear a friend say some ignorant s**t like you said, it’s your job to correct them and share with them what you learned tonight.”Emphasizing, “THEN, you’re no longer part of the problem, you’re part of the solution.”
“CLASS. I couldn’t believe what I witnessed,” DeForest wrote. “He changed everyone in that room that night. 200+ people became part of the solution if they weren’t already. Even a privileged girl in a privileged hat with a privileged mindset.”DeForest shared the story to share this lesson.
“Point is, it doesn’t matter what you thought before. You can always change. And you can always become a part of the critical mass trying to push this shit forward,” he concluded. “All you have to do is care and allow that care to become education and action.”