Shaun King, the New York Daily News columnist who consistently delivers a sharp powerful unfiltered perspective on race in America, thought Chris Rock’s lynching jokes at the Oscars went “too far.” King acknowledges that Rock was in a difficult, even an untenable, position. Picking and choosing what is and isn’t appropriate is a minefield in race relations. Rock usually gets a lot of credit for illuminating hypocrisy where he finds it. But King found Rock’s Oscars performance wanting: “I think I put too much on Chris. I came in very much wanting him to teach his audience some lessons. He did some of that, but that’s not his training.”
King knows how difficult it is, but Rock seemed to skirt over the recent incidents like Freddie Gray that fuel the Black Lives Matter movement, implying instead that it’s not like lynching is still happening. King is incredulous at Rock’s neglect. You don’t joke about lynching, and you don’t pretend a version of it isn’t still plaguing the country, King contends. King understands the nuance necessary to address the matter though — and how different audiences hear different things in the same words. One of King’s own favorite hip-hop artists is the venerable (and controversial) rapper Brotha Lynch Hung, a name that is a joke, of sorts, and purposely not a funny one.