HomeHuman InterestWatch Louis CK’s Brilliant Rant About Historical Context in This Amazing Tonight Show Interview!

Watch Louis CK’s Brilliant Rant About Historical Context in This Amazing Tonight Show Interview!

One of our favorite comedians, Louis CK, gives us all a brilliant lesson in the relevance of historical context in this must-see clip from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

In one of our favorite parts, Louie explains,

“Every year white people add 100 years to how long ago slavery was.  I’ve heard educated white people say, ‘slavery was 400 years ago.’

No it very wasn’t.  It was 140 years ago…that’s two 70-year-old ladies living and dying back to back.  That’s how recently you could buy a guy.”

It’s meant to be comedy, yet it’s SO TRUE!

We’ve been saying this for years to people who don’t seem to understand the concept of inertia when it comes to the abduction, enslavement and horrific abuse and of an entire race of human beings.

It’s not something any of us can just “get over.”

(Of course, many conservatives think “inertia” is just some crazy liberal view too — it being a big fancy science word and all.)

Louis CK has a different style, but his sentiments (dark truth mixed with comedy) remind us a lot of the late, great Bill Hicks.

Watch the amazing video!


Americans Against The Tea Party is a group committed to exposing the Tea Party’s lies, violence, racism, ignorance, intolerance, bigotry, and corporatist fascist efforts to subvert our democratic process – and we are organizing to defeat Tea Party/GOP candidates on ballots everywhere.
  • Pingback: Laura Ingraham Asks: ‘We Have to Excuse Rachel Jeantel‘s Cocky Ignorance Because She’s Black?!’ (VIDEO) | Atlas Left()

  • cowcharge

    Why doesn’t anyone ever mention that it was other black Africans catching and selling the slaves to the whites in the first place?

    • Barney Muldoon

      What would be the point? Did these slave traders force white Americans to buy these slaves?

  • Dudemonger

    One of the dangerous issues that is being omitted in all of these comments is the issue of class. Referring to white privilege because white working class people don’t have it as bad as African Americans, or the majority of African Americans, sets up a very treacherous slope. It allows our nation’s capitalist elite to continue to convince its poor and working classes that the issue is race. African Americans will not achieve equality within our current economic system. With its lack of funding for education, it’s over taxation of the middle and poorer classes and its unwillingness to deviate from its archaic laissez-faire form of privatized ownership of the means of production, our capitalist oligarchy will make social mobility for African Americans impossible regardless of racist social constructs or progressive egalitarianism. Constant emphasis on race allows African Americans to resent their white neighbors even when their struggles are almost identical.(The rumblings also make hard pressed white working class people resent the tension)It also prevents them from unifying against the corporate sponsored system that exacerbates the damage that has already been done. Black is synonymous in some way to poverty, but poverty is not exclusive to Blacks.

  • John Matthews

    “liberal thinkers” Isn’t that an oxymoron?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000907279043 John Baker

      No. But you would appear to be an ordinary moron.

    • greg

      I was going to say “logical thinker”, not sure why liberal is even included in that.

    • Tom

      Derrrrrrrrr…Gee George

  • Raji the Green Witch

    Are WE the people pissed off enough yet?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000907279043 John Baker

      Do you ever say anything else?

      • Raji the Green Witch


  • ChiquitaBanana

    What would have solved this problem, is if they had remained a subject state of the British Empire for about 50 more years, becoming far more profitable and structured, peacefully changing inequitable laws, and THEN leaving the Commonwealth.

    It’s too bad, but they DIDN’T. You are engaging in a contrafactual. Isn’t it more useful to suggest how to address the problems begotten by the Atlantic slave trade, and/or of a premature departure from an imperial, unequal polity, affect society NOW?

  • Margry Coffey

    Slavery is not dead in America. It just moved to our Corporate run/owned Private Prison System.

  • Stan Ubeki
  • Zelazny Zoibek

    Some additional historical context…slavery may have officially ended in the US…but it is alive and well in Africa, just like it was before the Europeans ever got there.

    • Eric Wright

      What a false eqvuivalency and false assertion. First of all there is no government in Africa or anywhere else in the world that legal sanctions slavery. Furthermore, the biggest human trafficking operation in coming from European countries under the guise of Sex Slaves. Thirdly there is no documented history of Africa chattel slavery. Africa had indentured servents equivalent to what Europe and the rest of the world had at the time. The were fully intergrated into the society as a whole scientifically speaking. And while indentered servitude is not humane in and of itself, it is still different from the Transatlantic slave system based on race. Slaves were completely dehumanized, marginalized, and bond to servitude by birth. What you are asserting is a gross false equivalency, and furthermore has nothing to do with the descendants of slavery in America.

      • alex

        this is liberal mumbo jumbo, I am from ukraine, islam countries always had slaves, they bought them and sold them.

        • Eric Wright

          @ alex. What an intelligent, and thoughtful rebuttal–“Liberal Mumbo Jumbo”–Name one Country that legally sanctions slavery today!!! Just one to support your idiotic assertion…

        • Juliet

          Many peoples had slavery, Alex, but American slavery was unique in that the slaves were obviously different from their masters in appearance. Throughout much of history, slaves were often POWs, civilians taken after successful raids and battles, or people sold to pay off their debts. During a walk through Rome, Baghdad, or Phnom Penh, people would see slaves who looked like the free-born people (natives, merchants, mercenaries, sailors, etc) around them. These slaves were usually bought for their skills and abilities, and could be everything from teachers for their owners’ children down to physical laborers. The American version was just that.

    • matt

      Yep and that slavery is directly related to the influence of european and american corporations.

  • benjamin

    Didn’t slavery go back to the time of the Romans? Where does he get 400 yrs. Or does it just count for one group of people?

    • Eric Wright

      Transatlantic Slavery is what is in question. Where are the victims of the Romans, and show me how they are afflicted in the present. Transatlantic Slavery, however, established a systematic advantage to some and a systematic disadvantage to others. This dynamic is still present today.

    • Dancouver23

      It was actually way before the Romans as well, the Babylonians, Persians, Assyrians and Egyptians are for the most part recognized as the worlds first large empires and every single one of them had slaves. Those empires were ancient to the Romans. Slavery did not start with black Africans being brought to the America’s, it just happens to be the most recent case of documented mass slavery and Louis is right, it’s not that far removed which is why it’s still a bit of a sticky issue.

      Pretty much every race/ethnicity on this was a slave or owned a slave at some point in history, it’s not just “White People = Bad”.

      • Eric Wright

        That’s beside the point. Slavery produced white supremacy in this country and all throughout the Americas. White supremacy produced systematic privalege for whites and systematic oppression for blacks. American’s refuse to accept the systematic disparities produced long after so-called emancipation proclamation. There’s Jim Crow, Restrictive White Convenants, Redlining, unequal Education, Persistent Job Discrimination, Historical Misinformation diseminated through schools, COINTELPRO, Red Squads, Reverse Redlining, Police Brutality, The Draconian Drug Wars, Unfair Drug Sentencing, Racially based voter redistricting, and many more issues too numerous to list that exist well into 2013. The masses are historically inept and therefore unresponsive to these issues, but that isn’t an indicator that these issues don’t exist for they are well documented and substantiated. Far too often, people use instances of non relevant issues to obfuscate responsibility for the relevant ones. For example, Ancient Rome had slaves so blah blah blah. Would you tell a battered women that well “Susy’s getting battered too and she not complaining about being hit by her husband”. This is how low brow the popular logic is in this discussion has become, and it is completely devoid of facts and substance.

        • AATTP

          Amazing comment. Thank for adding to the conversation–we at AATTP wholeheartedly agree with your assessment.

        • LiberalLarry

          Absolutely brilliant…Well said….You preach it,I’ll amplify it..FORWARD…not backwards..

        • Jett

          You are the essence of knowledge being power. The bold ignorance of Zelazny Zoibek you replied to is quickly put in it’s place of a statement unworthy of trash cans.

        • alex

          someone should punch you in a mouth you self-hating creature.

          • Barney Muldoon

            “someone should punch you in a mouth” I pick yours.

          • Juliet

            Ooh, such a marvelous rebuttal. The comments are over, folks: Alex has presented an ironclad argument against us all.

        • vanessanyc

          Eric Wright, You rock. Thank you for putting that so well.

        • alex

          go back to Africa, establish black dominance there and get your systematic privilege, eh? No you’d rather stay in US and rip off whites that build a country and you can tell me whatever but I wouldn’t believe that 90% of US population thrived on 10% of slaves it’s impossible… plus I’ve seen white farmers that had no slaves and lost their farms to bankers, what was their privilege again?

          • Juliet

            They had the consolation of being white, Alex. As low as they were, they still had more legal protections than blacks. When they were screwed over, they could say, ‘At least I’m not a n—-r.’ That attitude kept them from demanding that their ‘superiors’ treat them with dignity and respect.

            You know nothing of the economics of slavery in the US. Colonies had bills to pay related to their founding, or else they were set up specifically to obtain resources (gold, silver, sugar, lumber, and so on). Slaves weren’t paid, and could be mistreated in ways that indentured servants could not. Cheap, disposable, labor for mines and fields and forests from the Caribbean to the Virginia Commonwealth.

            The South was an agrarian economy, and cotton ended up as its cash crop. When the plantations were in full swing, the owners were rich because they didn’t have to pay any wages. (The only wages that slaves earned were the few dollars paid them when they were loaned out, or when they had permission to take outside work.)

            Just because you can’t believe that an economy thrived with ‘only’ 10% of its population in chains doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

            (And what is your evidence that the people disagreeing with you are not white? Besides their disagreement, I mean.)

        • Lyn

          Your comment was brilliant! Are you on twitter? So that I may follow you?

      • Pavel Chichikov

        “A little bit of a sticky issue”? Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds? As does your “everybody did it, so what if we did and are still benefiting from it” logic. WTF, dude?

        • Dancouver23

          I think you might be reading into my comment a little more then I’ve written and are making your own assumptions. It’s not a justification, merely a history lesson and I did state that Louis was right. I’m very aware of the plight of those who are not white in the world and extremely sympathetic, coming from Canada where make no mistake racism does exist though I’d say at a much lower level then other places in the world as we generally tend to get along and that’s where I get my perspective.

          While I’m compassionate and stick up for those who are disenfranchised and downtrodden and consider myself an ally in the equal rights struggle, I’m certainly not going to apologize for being a white male as I had no choice in the matter

          • Eric Wright

            That’s a straw man argument. No one ask you to feel guilty solely on the basis of being white, nor has anyone suggested that being white makes you guilty. My only contention is that every one stops obfuscating the truth about America’s history because by doing so you are contributing to the sustaining of an unjust system.

    • Cristina

      he’s talking about when slavery ended in the united states. and the “400 years” was a joke about when people imagined slavery to have ended in the US. did you listen while you were watching?

  • Cherokeeblackraven

    oh hell I feel that no body has the right to bitch but the Native Americans come on get real

    • Eric Wright

      Well obviously you don’t have a complete understanding of the history of America. Of course we understand that Native Americans have an axe to grind, but you forgot that people where enslaved for nearly three centuries and these individuals never realized the fruits of there labor leave. The saying is “Stolen Labor, to work Stolen Land” and not just
      “Stolen Land”

      • LiberalLarry

        Where does the Native Americans bitch concerning massacre and genocide fit into your little scenario…Just stolen land…what an oblivious joke..

        • Eric Wright

          Obviously you can’t read very well. I stated Stolen Labor to work Stolen Land you imbecile.

  • Mike Gellatly (@MikeGellatly)

    He is not “Schooling” Leno, he is being set up for a bit Louie C.K. has been doing on stage for many months. Listen to his performance on “Live at Carnegie Hall.”

  • pecos.jane

    Jomes wrote: “The US government didn’t close the book on slavery until sometime in the 1960s”

    Schools and economic conditions and living conditions are so poor today in places like Chicago and Oakland, I suggest that “the book” is not yet closed.

    Several studies demonstrate that drug laws and sentencing guidelines and practices are extensions of racial apartheid in Amerika.

  • Alison

    Great civilizations are built on the back of suffering. Now that we have a massive infrastructure that can afford to get rid of cultural and corporate feudalism, and today’s generations get to enjoy equality without the memory of suffering all that, why be upset anymore?? If you can buy the plantation house your great great grandmother was owned in, then kudos. The truth is, empire building always begins with massive inequities that equalize when the populace becomes more and more comfortable, middle-class, and educated. Regardless of who was historically on the bottom or top, nowadays if that is meaningless, why live in that mindset of white guilt or black anger?

    I am American living in Ireland and I have seen an entire nation hold itself back through its own retro-progressive attachment to papal infallibility and discarding the amenities of the British Empire too soon. This resulted in massive poverty for decades, destruction of trade infrastructure like shutting down 70% of Ireland’s pre-1950 railways, the subjugation of women in society and in Magdalene laundries, the use of Ireland as a quiet Vatican dumping ground for active pedophiles due to their nationalist devotion to Catholic identity, and the resulting severe damage to children, addiction, violence and the subjugation of Protestants who did not suffer abuse. Joining the EU alleviated a lot of this trouble, but the truth is, Ireland is now a subject state of the EU due to the banking scandal to the tune of 87 billion Euro, which a corrupt mafia-structured leadership enabled to happen thanks to unregulated greed.

    What would have solved this problem, is if they had remained a subject state of the British Empire for about 50 more years, becoming far more profitable and structured, peacefully changing inequitable laws, and THEN leaving the Commonwealth.

    The truth is, when you look at the lesson of Ireland, it becomes obvious that infrastructure is what gives us enough of the luxury of education and common sense to create far more equality in society. This is where the African-American community needs to look again and realize how lucky they are to be enjoying independence, equality, education, and changes in society right now, that did not consist of a deliberately segregated state (Like Lincoln’s Liberia), that integrated a profitable cultural presence in society of African-American people, and more or less peacefully brought about full integration and equality.

    This will truly be felt when the last generations who bitterly remember either being massively privileged as whites, and miss those privileges, or massively underprivileged as blacks, finally die out.

    How lucky all of us really are to be Americans.

    • Lee

      Wow, what an impressively well thought out response, Alison. Although I believe some of your points could be effectively argued against- such as the importance of collective memory, I do believe your analysis of the Catholic church’s effect on Ireland is right on target. I am American and live in Brazil, and I see daily the wreckage the church continues to wreak upon the Brazilian people. In addition to vile economic, sexual, social and intellectual subjugation, evangelical offshoots have sprung which are ever more offensive than the Catholic/Rome axis itself. These people are destroying the financial well-being of poverty-stricken, gullible Brazilian people by enriching themselves to the complete detriment of their believers. Some are billionaires, and although guilty of breaking any number of laws here they continue to pack their mega-churches with citizens only too happy to open their wallets for ravaging. Where is the church in all this? Continuing to peddle their product to customers; here they use all the fancy frocks and often hold mass in Latin. As long as the Vatican sits on those piles of gold in their vaults, infrastructure will suffer where it’s most needed as the opiate works its effects.

    • LiberalLarry

      You betcha,
      I wish those Jews would STFU as well..You would think that they would feel honored in giving up 6,000,000+ Jews to the concentration camps “oven” and “showers”..I mean look at Germany now..Democratic,stable economy,fabulous infrastructure,EQUALITY..Putting up with suppression/oppression is the ONLY possible way for a society to develop..Right?..I mean we GOTTA have slaves and some group to suppress for society to flourish…All the blacks and Jews want to do is talk about Slavery and the Holocaust..They just wont let it die..selfish I tell you..What could ever possibly be learn from History..hell I think we should revise history just to see if we can’t put these “little situations” behind us…after all we are equal “enough” now..right?..maybe we need a new group to oppress to help “rebuild” our failing infrastructure and help our economy…Well I be damn thats a page right out of Tea-Nutology..The are right now currently suppressing/oppressing gays,women(pro-rape you know),the poor,sick,educated,labor,any religion other than “approved” Christianity and what the hell lets throw blacks back into the mix(they helped so well the first go around),actually any color not Aryan(not white,Aryan)..Tea-Nutology says White,Heterosexual,Male Christians are correct(true Patriots)the rest of us are just leeches and the “problem.
      I assume you agree…most sociopaths who dwell in the psychotic realm do..you seem to fit the bill…Deluded Racist Nut….Blacks should appreciate the “rebel flag” just as Jews should adore the “swastika….What convoluted white trash logic….


        larrty, very funny.

  • Jomes

    The US government didn’t close the book on slavery until sometime in the 1960s. Black men in the south were being arrested on trumped up charges and forced to work in prison labor camps while perpetually having their sentences extended. The worked there until they died for minor even made up offenses.

    • Karma

      You really think that slavery of black people is over? The 13th amendment was just ratified YESTERDAY in SC…a little behind the times? There are far more minorities on jail for longer terms than the white people are serving for the same crimes. Ask the young men being arrested daily in NYC for minor crimes (read: marajuana) that white kids are just not being stopped for. The privatization of our prison system has created a NEW slavery system where prisoners are paid a pittance, FORCED to do work that should rightfully be going to well paid unionized workers. WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE? Yet you idiots sit there and pretend all is well now and people are all treated equally no matter the color or race. PUH-LEEZE. None so blind as those who outright REFUSE to see…Btw, I am WHITE, 3rd generation German descendant. Damn right you should feel guilty, and silence and acceptance of the status quo are UNacceptable!

      • Rebecca Rungsang

        Ummm…..It was Mississippi, not SC. Need to get your Basic facts straight if you want anyone to read past your first sentence.

      • Tom

        I should feel guilty?? Or are you directing that towards someone else? If it was a broad brush all of you should feel guilty…then what am I “feeling guilty” for? i thnk i missed something

  • Robert

    You could tell Louie CK will be a great Dad! Hey, what about Native Americans? Can they complain?

    • Yvetter

      Louis CK is a Mexican Indian descendent so I’m pretty sure he is well aware of native atrocities vs white privilege.

      • Fluidly Unsure

        According to Louie nobody should be allowed to say ewe if they are a white middle class girl. I assumed that the mixed-races that look white should be prejudged just like Louie commands.

  • LiberalLarry

    I’m a 47 yo white guy and I totally agree…White ppl have a right to bitch, but black ppl have a right to bitch more…Absolutely…

    • Uh huh

      I think no one should be bitching, get on with your lives and make the most of it without blaming others. Stop acting like children.

      • Eric Wright

        As long as white supremacy is the life line of the American operation, there is no moving on!!!!!!!

        • alex

          Well, how do we fix it? take everything from whites? I’d really like to hear your opinion on this.

          • Juliet

            And of course you brought out that tired canard. You live in a world in which everything is zero sum.

            What we want is a world in which a black kid walking down the street is not treated as an automatic criminal, while a white kid is ignored; a world in which a 40-hour week allows someone to afford basic rent, utilities and insurance; a world where people can get the help they need to improve their lives, and where nobody has to worry about being murdered for being the wrong religion, color, ethnicity, or political affiliation, or because their side lost (or won) the election. That world is possible, if we work at it.

    • Fluidly Unsure

      Let them bitch, but why should I obey when they tell me to bend-over like they told my father (accept the pink slip without grumble so we can put an unqualified black man in your place- btw, could you train him in ecchange for a good referal letter?)

      I’ve got things I could bitch about but it has just become a pissing contest.

Scroll To Top
website security Website Security Test