An Open Letter to Chris Rock

Yesterday Chris Rock tweeted this:

Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren’t free but I’m sure they enjoyed fireworks

Dear Mr. Rock:

I am not going to call your tweet racist.  Besides the fireworks, your comment was historically accurate.  We did have slaves the day the declaration was signed.  The founders did not put an end to slavery.  The reason that they didn’t was the fact that they knew it would not be ratified if they had.  The decision was made to have an imperfect United States, instead of no country at all.   The hope had been that slavery would die on its own, as it had in many other countries by that time.  Sadly, we did have to fight a civil war to end slavery.

I am not one to say that this country is perfect.  We have many warts and many things we should be ashamed of.  Even today things happen that are a true shame and black eye on our nation.  One that comes to mind immediately is the fact that we have so many veterans that are homeless.  These are men and woman who were willing to die to protect this nation and the very least we should do is pay them enough that this never happens to them.  We are working on ways to solve these problems.

I looked up your net worth, it is said to be $70 million.  That is more money than most Americans will make in a lifetime.  You don’t seem to have done all that badly in this country, even though we once had slavery.

But the thing that I really don’t understand Mr. Rock, is why are not making these same statements about other countries that had slavery?  Virtually every country in the history of the world had slavery in some form or another.  In some instances the practice continues to today, it is just called by another name; indentured servitude.  That is a very common practice in the Middle East, it is even known to happen in America as well when foreign workers are brought here to work for certain visas.  This isn’t all that uncommon in people who work for diplomats that are in our country.

Why are you not railing about these practices?  This is something that you can actually do something about.  The history of slavery in this country cannot be changed.  Our history is our history.  But, it really isn’t anymore of a black eye on our country than it was on any other country that did the exact same practice?  After all the Egyptians held the Jews slaves for many years.  The Greeks and the Romans had slaves as well.  Do you make the same statements about these countries?  Or is it just the United States that you make these statements about?  If so, I would like to know why.

Why are these other countries exempt but we are not?  As I said, you have done quite well for yourself in this country.  I wonder if you were a Jew who was living in Egypt you would do as well?  Somehow I don’t think so.  The act of holding Jews as slaves has long since ended there, but the bitterness has not.  They are currently going through a great deal of upheaval there and being a Christian could get you killed.

You see Mr. Rock, you can do pretty much anything you want in this country.  You can become a stand up comedian, make movies, and be on television.  Attracting white audiences all the while you are making a very good living for yourself.  I don’t think that is possible for the Jews in many other countries in the Arab world let alone Egypt.

I don’t deny racism exists in this country.  It most certainly does.  But it is time that we admit that racism will never fully be eradicated.  As it is a human condition.  It happens across all political, financial, and racial strata.   Your tweet proves that.  You did this on purpose on a day that we should be celebrating the wonder that is America.  The great experiment that became our country.  As I said, we have problems.  Maybe, just maybe, you should stop trying to stir the pot.  I know that you do a great deal of charity work with your wife.  I applaud you for putting yourself out there to raise awareness to different issues that we face in our nation.  But by bringing up slavery on Independence Day was far from your finest moment and does nothing to help anyone.  Except maybe to revive your stalled career.