Dave Chappelle dropped a new stand-up special on Netflix's YouTube channel on Friday called 8:46. The name is to commemorate George Floyd, a black man who died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. His death has been a centerpiece of worldwide protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and against racism and white supremacy.
While there are some comedic moments in the mini-special, which was filmed in Beavercreek, Ohio, using social distancing measures and masks provided to the live audience, Chappelle did not mince words when he talked about the pervasiveness of violence against Black Americans. “We're not desperate for heroes in the Black community,” Chappelle said, discussing Floyd and other Black victims of police brutality, including Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and Philando Castile. He also mentioned John Crawford, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Beavercreek in 2014. “[Anyone] that survives this nightmare is my goddamn hero.”
Chappelle, who encourages viewers to support the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization that is working to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality, also explained he has been purposefully absent amid the protests out of respect for the power of the protesters.
“I want to shout-out all the young people who have had the courage to go out and do all of this amazing work protesting. I am very proud of you. You kids are excellent drivers, and I am comfortable in the backseat of the car,” Chappelle said, later adding, “Ask me, do you want to see a celebrity right now? Do we give a f— what Ja Rule thinks? Does it matter about celebrities? No, this is the streets talking for themselves. They don't need me right now.”
However, Chappelle said he didn't want his silence to be seen as complicity and thus detailed his thoughts about what happened to Floyd. Mentioning that he once feared for his life during an earthquake that lasted less than a minute, he contrasted that with the terror Floyd must have experienced throughout that fateful 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
“This man kneeled on a man's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Can you imagine that? This kid thought he was going to die, he knew he was going to die. He called for his mother. He called for his dead mother,” Chappelle said. “When I watched that tape, I understood this man knew he was going to die. People watched it. People filmed it. And for some reason, that I still don't understand, all these f—ing police had their hands in their pockets. Who are you talking to? What are you signifying? That you can kneel on a man's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds and feel like you wouldn't get the wrath of God? That's what is happening right now. It's not for a single cop. It's for all of them. All of it.”
Throughout the 27-minute special, Chappelle also spoke about his familial history with racial justice efforts, as his great-grandfather, William David Chappelle, who was born a slave, led a Black delegation to the White House to meet with President Woodrow Wilson after a lynching in South Carolina.
“These things are not old. This is not a long time ago. This is today,” Chappelle said.