Niggas vs. Black People
"Niggas vs. Black People" is the title of one of Chris Rock's most famous and most controversial stand-up comedy routines. This routine—which appeared both on his 1996 HBO special Bring the Pain and as track 12 on his 1997 album Roll with the New—is widely considered to be the breakthrough routine that established his status as a comedy fixture after he left Saturday Night Live.
The routine is essentially a twelve-minute rant about behaviors that Rock sees in a subset of the black community. He describes "niggas" as a cohort whose behavior—which embodies many negative African-American stereotypes—is usually detrimental to the image of other black people. "Niggas", he says, glorify ignorance and sloth, and brag about fulfilling any minor responsibility. Rock rejects the view that this image of African Americans is purely cultivated by the media. In the routine, he says: "When I go to the money machine tonight, alright, I ain't looking over my back for the media, I'm looking for niggas! Shit, Ted Koppel ain't never took shit from me. Niggas have. So, you think I've got three guns in my house 'cause the media outside?"
The controversy caused by Rock's constant use of the word "nigga" led him to remove the piece from his act. In a 2005 60 Minutes interview, Rock said: "By the way, I've never done that joke again, ever, and I probably never will. 'Cos some people that were racist thought they had license to say nigger. So, I'm done with that routine."
Barack Obama directly referenced the routine while campaigning to be elected President during a Father's Day speech on June 15, 2008, saying: "Chris Rock had a routine. He said some—too many of our men, they're proud, they brag about doing things they're supposed to do. They say 'Well, I—I'm not in jail.' Well, you're not supposed to be in jail!"
In the second episode of the first season of NBC's The Office, "Diversity Day", main character Michael Scott performs a censored version; the result is a day-long racial sensitivity seminar for the office staff.
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- Gavin Edwards. "Smart Mouth". Rolling Stone, Star Date (876, 20478). Archived from the original on 2009-05-05. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
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- Baumann, Nick (June 16, 2008). "Obama Channels Chris Rock". Mother Jones. Retrieved July 28, 2012.