A joke Chris Rock shared in reference to the latest mass shootings — and featuring a play on Betty White’s name — has riled up some fans, who are accusing the comedian of being “racist” against white people.
“The first thing people say when a mass shooting is announced,” the meme posted by Rock read, with a photo of the Golden Girl star underneath. The punchline is a pun inspired by her name: “Bet he white.”
The post fetched mixed reactions, with many cracking up, some expressing relief that the beloved 97-year-old White hadn’t died, and quite a few critics slamming Rock for linking the mass shootings to white men. (Last weekend’s shootings in El Paso and Dayton were both committed by white men, one of whom had expressed white supremacist beliefs, though there have been mass shootings, including the Aurora, Ill. and Virginia Beach, Va. ones earlier this year, perpetrated by men of color.)
Some of Rock’s followers said it was unfair to assume shooters were white.
“If a white person posted this about black people their career would be over but when it’s the other way around nobody gives two s***s,” read one comment. “You can’t fight racism with racism, you’re just contributing to the problem. Sad a 17-year-old kid has to say this.”
“This is racist,” complained another commenter.
“Don’t ya love how this is racist but nobody cares because he is black,” one person wrote. “We all need to unite instead being toxic on social media and solve the problem.”
“Stay out of politics clown,” read another angry comment. “The rich need to stop this.”
“Although it’s comedy, it’s still racist,” added a commenter. “Flip the races and say, ‘When we hear somebody was mugged, we think... ‘“
“Do you not like white people? Not all of us are bad people,” one asked Rock.
But Rock’s fans told the comedian’s “pressed” critics to “stop taking things so seriously.” Many also argued against the claim that Rock was being “racist” against white people because of the power dynamics at play.
“Black people can’t be racist because they have never exerted and forced their power and will over other people deemed lower than their race,” a Rock fan fired back at a commenter upset with the star. “You don’t understand and just wanna cry about the unfairness of your privileged life.”
“You’re about to trigger some conservatives,” one predicted.
“I am white and I approve this post,” added a follower.
“It’s a stereotypical fact,” wrote a Rock supporter. “A gag done by a comedian. What’s a comedian’s job again!? To make inappropriate jokes/gags. This one just happened to be a little too true, to the point that it stings.”
Rock hasn’t responded to the negative reactions. The comedian and former Oscars host has, however, devoted many of his recent Instagram posts to calling out the El Paso shooter’s ties to white supremacy and comparing his treatment by law enforcement to that of black men.