One of Dave Chappelle’s most iconic sketches involves a character named Clayton Bigsby, a blind, black Ku Klux Klan member who thinks he’s white. Over the weekend, life, strangely, appeared to imitate art with the case of Rachel Dolezal, a Spokane NAACP president whose parents have accused her of lying about being black when she is, in fact, white. Speaking at his high school’s commencement ceremony on Sunday, Chappelle made light of the Rachel controversy. “The world’s become ridiculous. There’s a white lady posing as a black lady,” he commented. “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 backstage, in an interview with the Washington Post, he sang a more sympathetic tune:
“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. 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.”
And as for where Rachel would end up in the Chappelle’s Show race draft? “I think black,” he told the Post. “We would take her all day, right?” Chappelle also says that, despite his quips on Sunday, all Rachel Dolezal jokes are off limits for him, for now. “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 explained. Just imagine the #AskRachel memes he’d come up with.