Talk Back

Talk Back: Chris Rock’s Monologue Failed

JET wants you to Talk Back. This is one of the reader submissions that we received and opted to publish. Want to make your voice heard? Submit your commentary, TV show recap, poem, or essay HERE.  Read all the rules so you know how it works.

Like many Black Americans, I vowed to not watch the Oscars this year due to the lack of African American nominees.

But with the controversy surrounding diversity and mentions of a boycott, I did commit to watching the opening monologue when it was announced that Chris Rock would make the delivery.

Popcorn in hand and wine nearby, I was eager to see how Chris Rock would tackle the much talked about subject of diversity. Coming out to “Fight the Power” and delving right into the issue of how white-washed the awards ceremony is, along with the lack of opportunities available for African American entertainers and industry workers, my soul was doing a little dance inside just knowing that Chris Rock was about to deliver thee most conscious, pro Black, “the time is now” monologue ever.

But to say the least, I was highly disappointed.

Being a comedian, I wasn’t surprised by the satirical nature of his delivery, but not everything is a laughing matter, which was surely expressed when cameras panned to the majority white audience’s expressions of confusion in not knowing whether to laugh at the ill placed jokes of lynchings and rape.

A better monologue would have followed the lead of the beautiful Kerry Washington as she addressed the issue of diversity on the Oscars red carpet Sunday:

“A lot of people have asked me why I’m here tonight, and the thing I’m thinking about is, if you look at the history of movements, the history of change, a lot of the voices are needed at the table. I really respect and actually admire some of the people who are not here tonight, I really get it, but for me, I felt like my voice — in my heart — my voice is best used at the table.

As a new member of the Academy — I joined the Academy about three years ago — I really want to be part of the conversation to make sure there’s institutional change so that we never have a year like this again, so that we can be as inclusive as possible.”

Rock even questioned why people were protesting, and failed to answer his own question with haphazard answers of “being ignored in previous Oscars award ceremonies and having better things to protest” as if to say present-day injustices are okay because it’s nothing new to African American life.

Aside from the insensitive jokes about rape and lynching, Rock could’ve made better use of his platform. He contradicted himself by saying, “it’s not about boycotting anything,” but then went on to say “we want opportunity.” Mr. Rock, one indeed influences the other.

Tiana Jorman is the creator of the lifestyle blog, Tiana combined her unparalleled talent of writing with history and received a B.A in cultural studies.