Chris Rock on white people:
“Owning their actions. Not even their actions. The actions of your dad. Yeah, it’s unfair that you can get judged by something you didn’t do, but it’s also unfair that you can inherit money that you didn’t work for.”
After generations of progress, by all sides- Chris, this is the type of rhetoric that continues to damage race relations and causes many good people to get just plain angry.
Commenting on a New Yorker article, Inquisitr.com shared some of Rock’s tirade against white Americans.
“Chris Rock goes on to say that white people aren’t only responsible for their “actions,” but must take responsibility for those of their racist ancestors.”
Well Chris, like many white Americans, I’m sure I did have some racist ancestors, but most of my family were anything but.
As far as any inheritance being “unfair,” well…
My mother’s family were Polish immigrants. When they arrived in America during the Great Immigration, they were treated, to use your parlance, like niggers.
They were discriminated against in every way imaginable. My mother grew up in urban tenements. I remember her talking about the first time they had an apartment with running water- until then the water was carried up three flights of stairs from a common well shared by several buildings.
Most of my Polish ancestors changed their names upon arriving in America. If they had a “ski” or a “wicz” at the end of their names, they were turned away from decent homes, jobs and schools.
The man I knew as my grandfather was my mother’s stepdad- her birth father having died from a heart attack working in Connecticut sweatshops, no doubt because he inherited so much from his immigrant parents.
My grandfather did inherit some money- which was taken away by Russian communists before he left Poland after the War, where he had spent his last couple of years as a POW in a German concentration camp. He was a genius of a man and a genuine chess champion- but his name and his poor English limited him to a job operating a furnace in the Stanley tool factory.
My father’s side descends from French-Canadian stock. Many of them came to America to escape persecution of Francophones common in Canada for generations. Anglo-speaking Canadians in fact passed laws to convert French speakers and eradicate their culture.
My distant cousin, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard was a famous hockey player- who also found himself, somewhat by circumstance, as the symbolic leader of a civil rights movement in Canada to fight for equal pay, opportunity and treatment for French speaking citizens.
Some branches of my French family arrived before the Civil War. I’ve traced several to service in several Maine regiments during the Civil War, where they fought, as far as they were concerned, to end slavery and free America blacks.
Most of my French family settled in Northern Maine where they worked largely as potato farmers, many of them tenant farmers. As the potato business dwindled in Maine, many of these ancestors, whose inheritances were not what Mr. Rock would imagine, left to work the factories of Massachusetts and Connecticut. My father- obviously having squandered the riches of his inheritance, was part of that migration. That’s how he ended up in Connecticut and how he met my mother.
My parents were the decedents of people who struggled for generations to overcome prejudice and discrimination. They started their life together with absolutely no money- their ancestors having struggled for generations to simply survive.
What great inheritance are you speaking of?
What sins did my ancestors commit- especially those who gave their lives to end slavery?
Of course, that’s ancient history. Let’s talk more about my mother.
I wasn’t raised as a racist. My mother taught us that you judge people by their actions and character, not by their color, nationality or religious beliefs. She taught us that we were solely responsible for our own destiny and that the past, however terrible, was just that…
From this past my first real job was working in my father’s construction company- a business he built out of 18 hour days where weekends were largely for the weak. After that I worked as a pipe fitter in a shipyard building nuclear submarines.
Yes- jobs reserved for the privileged. I’ve worked hard for every dollar I’ve ever had and for most of my life I’ve had precious few above and beyond the bare necessities. Still- I’ve had a nice life so far and it’s getting better every day. Mr. Rock, I am not a wealthy entertainer, but I do not begrudge you a nickel of your money. Frankly, most of the time I think you’re hilarious- even when you’re making white people the target of your humor. I’m a true believer in the free market and if the market says your work is worth millions- so be it.
I don’t know your past; maybe you did work menial jobs like I did and like my ancestors did. I do know that now you enjoy a life of privilege most of us can only imagine. I do, however, resent your characterization of me and my ancestors. You dishonor the abolitionists, the civil rights activists and warriors who sacrificed to assure fair human treatment for everyone, regardless of race. You show flagrant disrespect for those of us who have stood up for friends and strangers when they were mistreated or abused because of their color- and those of us who continue to do so.
And as far as our generation paying for the sins of the past- that sir, is outrageous on the face of it.
I do not know first hand the challenges of growing up as a black man in America. I did have friends who experienced the race riots of the 1960s. I do remember when there was still Jim Crow and overt, legal discrimination. I remember the integrations of schools and the busing riots. I have friends that did suffer under those conditions. I even have friends who had crosses burned on their front yards.
I am just a few years older than you are- you may have missed some of this action.
My generation and generations of white Americans before fought, many died and many more sacrificed and risked their lives and livelihoods to eradicate institutional racism and end discrimination. Many of us continue that fight…
…but frankly, many of us are sick of hearing that we’re still part of the problem.
So as to your assertions that all white people are racist, that all white people are responsible for the lingering effects of slavery and institutionalized discrimination- that all white people are still accountable for the difficult conditions still experienced by some black people, conditions you seem to have transcended…
We’ve paid the price, and many of our ancestors paid the bill before us…paid in full.