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Chris Rock: it's not black people who have progressed. It's white people.

Chris Rock at an awards ceremony in November.
Chris Rock at an awards ceremony in November.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

In New York magazine's November 2014 interview with Chris Rock, writer Frank Rich asked the comedian about issues ranging from the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, to Bill Cosby's rape allegations. But perhaps the most insightful part of Rock's interview came when he dismantled the idea of "black progress":

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…

So, 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.

Rock is essentially flipping the formula. It's not that black people as a whole have somehow changed and can now serve in the highest political office in the country. It's that enough white people — the majority of Americans — have shed their racist beliefs to vote in a black president.


Watch: the racism of the US criminal justice system, in 10 charts

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