Credit: Screen grab
Chris Rock Mocks Jussie Smollett at NAACP Awards: ‘Waste of Light Skin’

Chris Rock Mocks Jussie Smollett at NAACP Awards: ‘Waste of Light Skin’

While presenting onstage Saturday at the NAACP Image Awards, comedian Chris Rock blasted alleged hate-crime hoaxer Jussie Smollett, calling the “Empire” star a “waste of light skin.”

“They said no Jussie Smollett jokes,” Rock said. “I know. What a waste of light skin, you know? You know what I could do with that light skin? That curly hair? My career would be outta here, (expletive) running Hollywood.”

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“What the hell was he thinking? From now on I ain’t never gonna (say) no Jussie — you’re a Jessie from now on. You don’t get the ‘u’ no more. That ‘u’ was respect. You don’t get no respect from me,” he added.

Smollett, not in attendance, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for for his role on “Empire.” He lost out to “Grey’s Anatomy” star Jesse Williams, who took home the outstanding supporting actor in a drama series award.

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“Black-ish” actress Yara Shahidi pushed back on Rock’s comments when she came up to the podium to accept an award for her show. “I stand with Jussie,” she said. “Orange is the New Black” actress Danielle Brooks also backed Smollett, speaking out in support of him before the show.  “We are friends. As his friend, I’m just there for him. That’s all I know what to do,” she told Vanity Fair on the red carpet. “He’s got a whole team of people helping him and telling him what to do, and he has a whole family that loves him, and are directing him. For me and everyone else, all we can do is support him.”
Some commenters on social media took issue with Rock’s remarks.

“It’s disappointing that Rock had to engage in colorism to make his point,” wrote one commenter, who also pondered “how light-skinned black men feel after reading or hearing that joke.”

“Chris Rock is trying too hard with the Caucasian humor. Hollywood has been good to Chris Rock. Having light skin & curly hair ain’t did shit for Katt Williams,” said another commenter.

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However, many users on Twitter took Rock’s side. In particular, conservatives praised the stand-up comedy icon’s unwillingness to cave to politically correct orthodoxy. More broadly, Rock’s willingness to go for edge on a sensitive racial incident reflects the frictions igniting the hot-button topic of free speech, which has to come be closely associated with right-wing values.

Public attention on Smollett flared again this week after Cook County State’s prosecutors announced they would be dropping all charges against the actor. After 16 charges of disorderly conduct for making a false statement against him were dropped Monday during an emergency court hearing, media outlets reported that the Chicago Police Department  was “furious” about the decision.

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Smollett, 36, black and gay former star of Fox’s “Empire” TV show, reported to the Chicago Police Department on Jan. 29 that he was assaulted by two masked men who called him racist and homophobic slurs and shouted “This is ‘MAGA’ country!” He said his assailants poured what he believed was bleach on him and put a noose around his neck.

Police at first investigated the incident as a possible hate crime, and many other celebrities, activists, politicians, and journalists rushed to condemn not just the attackers but the supposed state of Trump’s America.

In February, Smollett was arrested and charged with staging the crime in an apparent effort to garner attention and sympathy. Fox would cut ties with the actor shortly after, removing him from the final two episodes of the season.

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Cover image: Chris Rock. (Screen grab)



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