During his acceptance speech for an award from Russell Simmons' Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation at the Art For Life benefit, Dave Chappelle expressed both grave concern for the current state of society and an undying dedication to activism via art. Though Chappelle's reemergence during an increasingly contentious period in American race relations would seem to be part of a wonderfully calculated move, Chappelle rebukes this. "I think it is important to be out now," Chappelle says, "but what's going on in the world isn't why I initially came back out."
Chappelle also outlined the inarguable importance of artists during times of distress, pointing to the need for a greater participation in national and global discussions — without fear of losing or shifting one's place in the hierarchy of fame. "This is a very surprisingly emotionally charged time, so people like me, I think, are very relevant and necessary in sorting through all this information and emotional content," posits Chappelle. "When we are at our best, hopefully we are doing a great service to many people."
Part of this service, says Chappelle, is a firm stance against apathy as the predominant characteristic of an artist actively participating in today's climate. "The biggest enemy of an artist is apathy," Chappelle notes." Specifically referencing Comedy Central's Key & Peele, Chappelle simply wants artists within all fields — comedy, film, music, et al — to possess a greater understanding of the potential power of their respective platforms.
We've all said it before, but it never hurts to say it again — it's great to have you back, Dave.