Dave Chappelle's Experience Shows Connecticut's Racism

Dave Chappelle (Rick Kern/Getty Images)
Dave Chappelle (Rick Kern/Getty Images)

One little-explored aspect of Dave Chappelle's "meltdown" during a performance in Hartford last week is the significance of where the incident took place, journalist and Connecticut native Ann-Marie Adams argues in a piece at Ebony. She argues that Connecticut, rather than being a liberal oasis, is a racial hotbed. 

Location is a crucial unit of analysis for Chappelle’s supposed “meltdown.” It’s especially apt because many people perceive Connecticut as a liberal state, the cradle of the abolitionist movement and a respite from Jim Crow segregation. And it touts the story of a 17-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr., who mingled freely with Whites there before his ascendancy in the civil rights movement. 

But many Black locals once dubbed Connecticut as 'the Mississippi of the North.' …

To better understand why Chappelle walked off stage on that now-infamous night in Hartford, consider this: Connecticut has a long history of demotivating Black and brown people, especially students. Consequently, Connecticut has the highest academic achievement gap and one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation. Additionally, it has one of the highest suspension rates for kindergarteners. The 'Nutmeg State' also wrestled with slavery and servitude well into the early 20th century, a history erased from the public’s consciousness until 2002.  Moreover, the state required the only school desegregation case in New England and maintains both one of the highest unemployment rates for Blacks and a high premature birth rate for Black women …

Incidentally, Connecticut perfected the idea of 'post racialism' long before it enveloped the country. New Englanders don’t talk about race openly. In fact, silence is a political strategy. But this imposed silence is also a form of oppression.

The Chappelle incident in Hartford masterfully shattered that silence. More importantly, it revealed the oppressive burden of race and racism in the land of steady habits.


Read Ann-Marie Adams' entire piece at Ebony.  

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