Leslie Jones, comedian and Saturday Night Live writer, has come under a forest fire for her part in a recent skit that was spawned from Lupita Nyong'o's recent crowning as People magazine's most beautiful person.
During the episode, Jones exclaimed, "Black beauty has changed. Look at me. See, I'm single right now, but back in the slave days, I wouldn't have been single! I'm six feet tall, and I'm strong, Colin. Strong! I'm mandingo [… ]I'm just saying that back in the slave days, my love life would have been way better. Massah would have hooked me up with the best brotha on the plantation[… ]I would be the No. 1 slave draft pick!” She also talked about and demonstrated how she would pop out "super babies" akin to athletes like Kobe Bryant.
After airing, many criticized and screamed that Jones went too far and should be ashamed, and it wasn't funny.
Jones fired back on her Twitter, "If anybody should be offended is white folks cause it's what they did. Y'all so busy trying to be self righteous you miss what the joke really is. Very sad I have to defend myself to black people. Now I'm betting if Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle did that joke or Jay-Z or Kanye put in a rap they would be called brilliant. Cause they do all do this type of material. Just cause it came from a strong black woman who ain't afraid to be real y'all mad."
I say Jones has a legitimate point here. When Dave Chappelle created the character Clayton Bigsby, aka the blind, black White supremacist and his bit with black pimps traveling back in time to shoot a slave master, people felt that he was absolutely brilliant and did something revolutionary. Ratings of The Chappelle Show went through the roof, and it returned for more than one season. As a matter of fact, when the show didn't return, fans were upset and petitioned for it to return to Comedy Central.
Now, look at Chris Rock. He has stand up discussing slavery, which he says began in the 1600s until about 1964, and "how there's black people that died in the 30s, that was looking down from heaven in the 60s going, 'Man, them n- got it good." He also talked about how slaves were "bred" to make "super slaves," and how there's evidence of that today in the NFL; according to him, this is why blacks dominate all sports today. He even included a joke with Lebron James using his phallus to win a hockey game.
My question is this: Why are these examples any different from what Leslie Jones said and did? To me, they aren't. What Leslie Jones was pointing out, no matter how crude you find her humor, is truth; slave owners did breed slaves; slaves were sexual objects. Were they seen as beautiful? No. They were seen for their strong bodies. Chappelle and Rock both took on similar subjects in the same tone and manner.
So, the feminist in me is thinking that it's quite sexist that male, black comedians can in a sense "get away with" similar comedy. Male comedians get top rated shows, movies, sold out crowds, TV appearances, and all kinds of stuff. Leslie Jones just got treated like a step-child.
*Note- I love Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock. I have all seasons of The Chappelle Show on DVD, and I love watching Chris Rock's stand up.