Dave Chappelle weighed in on the Rachel Dolezal scandal on Sunday when the comedian delivered the commencement address at his D.C. alma mater, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
“The world’s become ridiculous,” he said. “There’s a white lady posing as a black lady. There is not one thing that woman accomplished that she couldn’t have done as a white woman. There’s no reason! She just needed the braids! I don’t know what she was doing.”
But talking to The Washington Post backstage, Chappelle took a more cautious approach to the NAACP president whose parents claim she’s a white woman pretending to be black.
“The thing that the media’s gotta be real careful about, that they’re kind of overlooking, is the emotional context of what she means,” Chappelle said. “There’s something that’s very nuanced where she’s highlighting the difference between personal feeling and what’s construct as far as racism is concerned. I don’t know what her agenda is, but there’s an emotional context for black people when they see her and white people when they see her. There’s a lot of feelings that are going to come out behind what’s happening with this lady. And she’s just a person, no matter how we feel about her.”
Even though the scandal hearkens back to the Chappelle Show character of Clayton Bigsby, a blind black Klansman who doesn’t know he’s black, Chappelle himself said he would at least wait to incorporate Rachel Dolezal jokes into his set.
“I’m probably not going to do any jokes about her or any references to her for awhile ’cause that’s going to be a lot of comedians doing a lot,” he said. “And I’m sure her rebuttal will be illuminating. Like, once she’s had time to process it and kind of get her wind back and get her message together.”
But he did assess where Dolezal would go in his show’s racial draft, in which various groups selected multi-ethnic celebrities.
“I think black,” Chappelle said. “We would take her all day, right?”