If you've ever seen the Chapelle Show, you probably know who Paul Mooney is, but you might not know his background. A brilliant standup comic on his own, he also wrote material for Richard Pryor and a number of tv shows, as well as shepherding several other standup comedians to fame. He is notorious for pulling no punches.
As I was driving back from New York last weekend I caught Paul Mooney's appearance on the Tavis Smiley Show (yeah public radio!) discussing his life and his new book, Black Is The New White, which according to Paul "white people are going to buy to burn in their fireplace." He touches on Pryor, Cosby, deciding to become a comedian, being notorious, race, and what it means to be free. Tavis includes great clips from both Pryor and Mooney. Check out the segment here. Let me give you some choice quotes to entice you to listen.
Paul on white appropriation of black entertainers:
"They caught on because our race caught on...If we go to like something, they study us. That's why they bring things into the ghetto to find what's going on. Cause we're the most cleverest people in the world. We survived slavery. We're still here."
Mooney on freedom:
"The freedom to not be afraid. The freedom to know that Charles is not in charge. The freedom to know that as a black male that I come from the land of kings and queens. And the freedom to know that Queen Elizabeth is not all that."
Near the end, he makes a great note about slavery. He reminds us, as Marx does, that capital owned by white people today is built on capital accumulated in the past, including in the time of slavery in our nation.