Funnyman Dave Chappelle has become one of the most successful comedians in the world largely for his unflinching comedic style, which often blends racial politics and humor. Chappelle delivered on that front this past weekend in his opening monologue on Saturday Night Live, with jabs at white privilege and inner-city violence. But it was his poignant message on racial progress and calls for unity that added profundity to his message.
It began when Chappelle shared a story about a recent visit to the White House. The event was organized by BET and seemed to touch Chappelle in a profound way.
“Everyone there was black, and it was beautiful,” said Chappelle. “And I saw how happy everybody was, these people who have been historically disenfranchised. And it made me feel hopeful, and it made me feel proud to be an American, and it made me very happy about the prospects of our country.”
Chappelle’s message came just days after Donald Trump stunned the world by winning the presidency, a victory that has sparked protests, violence, and a flood of assassination threats. Chappelle seems to sense a danger in this division: “I think that it’s important I say this because [people] are marching up the street right now as I speak.”
The anger of the protests runs counter to the hope Chappelle expressed in his monologue, a hope that suggests to him that divisions can be overcome.
“In that spirit, I’m wishing Donald Trump luck,” Chappelle said. “And I’m going to give him a chance, and we the historically disenfranchised demand he give us one too.”
It was a powerful moment. America is terribly divided. The campaign was the most bitter in memory. America’s first black president is being replaced by a man some people believe—correctly or incorrectly—used bigotry to secure the election.
The racial progress Chappelle describes in the video is powerful stuff. Watch the entire clip below [WARNING: the clip contains profanity]: