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5 lessons from ‘8:46’ that reinforce Dave Chappelle is a man of the people

Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special, 8:46, made a surprise midnight drop last Friday via Netflix’s YouTube channel.

The 27-minute speech had been recorded at a private outdoor venue in Yellow Springs, Ohio a week prior, on June 6. An audience of roughly 100 people watched Chappelle perform his first live stand-up routine in nearly three months.

Sporting an all blacked-out look, Chappelle began his monologue by congratulating young protesters for standing up for something they believed in.

Minutes later, he made passionate comments about George Floyd’s death, frequently mentioning the eight minutes and forty-six seconds that he had been kneeled on by a Minneapolis police officer.


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An early look at next week’s cover, “Say Their Names,” by @KadirNelson.

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By the end of the presentation, Chappelle had referenced multiple moments of racial tension including Laura Ingraham’s “shut up and dribble,” and Candace Owen’s criticism of Black Lives Matter.

Chappelle’s special shocked America as it largely strayed away from his typical comedic routines and instead carried a serious and urgent message. The concise and raw monologue was praised for its brutally honest and straightforward direction.

Without further ado, here are 5 takeaways from Dave Chappelle’s powerful special, 8:46.

The streets are talking

During the first few minutes, Chappelle mentions how this is not about celebrities; it is about the streets.

“This is [the] streets talking for themselves” he says.

“They don’t need me right now. I kept my mouth shut. And I’ll still keep my mouth shut.”

Chappelle argues that this is not about celebrities using their platform to advocate for change. It has gone past that. This is now about the people, the streets, the neighborhoods. What is currently happening is them talking. Not Chappelle, not LeBron James, but the streets.

This is partly due to the fact that the victims are everyday people. The victims of police brutality live on the streets, go to the local schools, and endure the taste of everyday life. It is time for these people to have a voice. It is time for these people to exclaim their emotions.

“Does it matter about celebrities? No” Chappelle declares. With Don Lemon questioning why certain celebrities have not been outspoken, Chappelle provided an answer. Celebrities have been speaking for much too long, and it is time for everyday African-Americans to have a voice.

Chappelle is one of the best storytellers ever

One of the best aspects of the special is just how casual it is. It is a relatable conversation spoken in common dialect and tone. Because of this, the message is so powerful.

Chappelle doesn’t speak with a typical “platform-proclamation,” where people of power are delivering carefully rehearsed, risk-free messages. No.

This is a hard, gritty statement coming from a man who is fed up with what has been happening in a supposed-free society.


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Normally I wouldn’t show you something so unrefined, I hope you understand.

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He delivers his message in a way that the most ignorant individual would be able to understand just as well as a professional. He makes raw and personable claims, while providing sufficient evidence to verify his words.

At the inception of the speech, Chappelle talked about an earthquake that he endured while in LA in 1993. “This sh*t was terrifying. I made a point not to scream. That earthquake couldn’t have been more than 35 seconds.”

Immediately afterwards, Chappelle explodes:

“This man kneeled on a man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds! Can you imagine that! He called for his dead mother!”

The stark transition that Chappelle makes from his cannabis-fueled comical story into the heavy topic is nothing short of brilliant. It simultaneously captures the audience’s attention and displays the severity of the situation at hand.

This was such an effective speech for a multitude of reasons, but Chappelle’s masterful storytelling ability was the backbone of it all.

Law enforcement has shown a lack of understanding.

Chappelle segues to a point about Chris Dorner, a former African American LAPD officer who was fired for reporting excessive violence on the behalf of his white, female partner. Despite taking every legal measure to get reinstated, Dorner was denied and left jobless.

Tragically, Dorner went on to murder two LAPD officers in their car, and subsequently murdered another officer’s daughter.

Following a manhunt, “no less than 400 police officers” arrived at his whereabouts and terminated him. “You know why 400 cops showed up?” Chappelle asks.

“Because one of their own was murdered. So how the f**k can’t they understand what’s going on in these streets?”

Chappelle brings up a harshly realistic point. Assaulting, murdering, or otherwise harming a hair on the head of a police officer is similar to signing a death warrant. That is a proven fact everywhere in this country.

Yet, law enforcement cannot seem to understand why African Americans and white and non-black people of color revolt following another innocent death. This points out a fundamental flaw in the law enforcement system, and Chappelle used his relatable words to enunciate it.

Kobe saved the world, and LeBron didn’t give in

Following the note of law enforcement’s ignorance, Chappelle transitioned to talk about Laura Ingraham’s infamous comments towards basketball players.

“Laura Ingraham told one of Ohio’s greatest residents ever ‘shut up and dribble’” Chappelle said.

“He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was 17 years old, and exceeded every expectation that they had for him.”


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Can’t let this one slide! 🤷🏾‍♂️😉. #JamesGang👑 #Toosieslide @champagnepapi

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Chappelle continues to mention Lebron’s role as a family man, and how he has yet to let anybody down.

The fact that he was told off by a “news” reporter is absurd, and while less severe in nature, it relates to Floyd’s killing today. Neither LeBron nor George Floyd was held up to their respective standards, and it was because of their skin color.

Chappelle mentioned another basketball icon, the late, great Kobe Bryant. He felt that Kobe saved the United States from being doomed.

The night in 2016 that nine police officers were killed “felt like the end of the world.” And the only reason it wasn’t the end of the world, in Chappelle’s opinion, was at the very same time that was happening, Kobe Bryant was playing his last game as a Laker.

“I kept flipping back as Kobe was dropping 60. And he did. I saw him dribbling and saving this goddamn country from itself,” Chappelle said.

Kobe Bryant positively distracted the world from a tragic killing by representing himself and his team with class. Like many other professional athletes, that was one of Kobe’s greatest qualities.

It is also a reason as to why the NBA’s return is necessary. The league’s return is a sense of peace for people. More importantly, it gives African-American athletes a sense of representation for themselves and their communities.

“We didn’t choose George Floyd, you did”

One of the most thought-provoking moments of the speech is when Chappelle mentions Candace Owen’s statement of George Floyd’s “rap record.” Owens mentioned multiple negative qualities about Floyd; ie. drugs, thief, etc. “He’s not a hero, and why does the black community make him a hero?”Chappelle imitated.

Then the bomb went off.

“We didn’t choose him, you did! They killed him, and that wasn’t right, so he’s the guy.”

This is possibly Chappelle’s strongest point in the entire monologue. Owens and other people have questioned why the African American community has chosen George Floyd as a hero. Chappelle answered.

The community did not choose him; he was killed. The community did not want this to happen. They are standing up for their fallen brother, their innocent victim. They chose to fight for his life, not to praise his misdemeanors. Chappelle’s point shows how unacceptable the death of innocent civilians is.

Instead of allowing it, the African American community has chosen to fight for the fallen lives. This is true power. This is love for one another. This is the fight for equality.