11 Times Comedians Got It Right About Race and Police Brutality

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From Richard Pryor to Martin Lawrence, comedians have been making us laugh about race and police brutality for years.

Tension between the African-American community and police officers is nothing new. In fact, some of our favorite comedians have been making jokes about police brutality and racial tensions for years. Here are a few of our favorite comedians sharing social commentary through humor.

Richard Pryor: “Police choke ni—s to death.” Late comedian Richard Pryor knew the deadly effects of a chokehold from a police officer way back in 1977. (Start at 00:40-1:07)

Dick Gregory: “Watts Riots/ Civil Rights” Though it wasn’t standup, comedian Dick Gregory spoke poignantly about the Watts Riots. Fast forward 49 years and he could be talking about Ferguson.

Paul Mooney: “Every Black male has a police story.” Comedic genius Paul Mooney shares how difficult it is to be #AliveWhileBlack before it became a trending hashtag (Start at 00:59-01:29)

Dave Chappelle: “Black people are very afraid of the police.” Dave Chappelle highlights the stark differences between #CrimingWhileWhite and being #AliveWhileBlack in a hilarious anecdote about driving with his white friend “Chip.”

Katt Williams: “Police can kill your ass today and come up with a story for the news tomorrow.” Katt Williams has some harsh truths about the role media coverage plays in directing the narrative about police actions. (00:52-3:05)

Chris Rock: “How to not get your ass kicked by the police.” Chris Rock reminds us in a hilarious way not to give police officers an excuse to arrest you and what usually happens when you argue with a cop.

Louis C.K.: “Every year, white people add a hundred years to how long ago slavery was.” (Start at 1:48) C.K. jokes about how racial historical context should always be taken into account.

Martin Lawrence: “White people get away with a lot of sh*t when it comes to the cops.” Lawrence reenacts why White people have a lot more freedom when it comes to encounters with the police. 

Mike Epps: “Black people are afraid of the police.” Epps jokes about how Black people are hyper-aware of police presence.

Aries Spears “White people, y’all got a freedom we just don’t have.” Aries Spears shines a comedic light on white privilege. (Start at 00:50-01:22)

Aamer Rahman: “Fear of a Brown planet.” Is there really such a thing as reverse racism?