Comedian Chelsea Handler said merely claiming not to be racist is an inadequate response to systemic racism and that white people “have to be working to dismantle the system” that she said enables their success at the expense of others.
During a recent interview with Sam Sanders on NPR, Handler discussed her new book, “Life Will Be The Death Of Me: …And You Too!” and also explained how the therapy she pursued after President Donald Trump’s election led her to make “Hello Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea,” a Netflix special about her “white privilege.”
Handler, whose show “Chelsea Lately” aired on E! from 2007 to 2014, said that “after therapy and kind of taking a look at myself and my surroundings and coming to the realization that my success has a lot to do with my skin color, I wanted to really do something that set an example about how to, you know, contribute because at this point, it’s not enough to just say you’re not racist.”
“You know, you have to be — we have to be working to dismantle the system because we are reaping the benefits in exchange for people losing benefits,” she added.
Recounting how one of her friends grew “weepy” discussing the book “White Fragility” with her, Handler said, “I was like, this is exactly what the problem is. And she was like, no, I’m just telling you. I go, don’t. No, you can’t talk to me about it either anymore. No more white people should be talking about how sad they are. Like, now we know we [expletive] up. Let’s fix the problem.”
Handler also touched on the backlash she faced for having shared a video on Instagram last month of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. The post — which was liked by celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Garner, and Michelle Pfeiffer before Handler deleted it — suggested racial tension is insurmountable and that white people are laden with guilt.
Describing Farrakhan’s message as one about “racial justice,” Handler said the video “really describes how, actually, you know, black people don’t have a history of violence. We’ve been violent against black people, and we associate black people with violence. That’s what I took away from that. And I thought the message was paramount to the man. But I was wrong. The man is worse than the message.”
“Hello Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea” was panned by viewers on the television and film review site Rotten Tomatoes. One of the viewers described it as “a long, boring, scolding given by an unfunny white comedian pretending to depth. If you are a masochist, or a difficult person to be around, you will probably really enjoy it. Anyone with the bodily resources to create a measurable EEG readout should give it a pass.”
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