In the first half of the twentieth century, comedians such as Woody Allen, Richard Pryor, Jerry Lewis, Fred Astaire, and John Belushi created some of the most popular shows on television.
But even as these performers created enduring legacies, they also became targets of a kind of anti-Comedy Central racism that continued through the 1970s and 1980s, when the network launched its crusade against “yellowface.”
The backlash began with an episode of “South Park,” which depicted white characters as racist caricatures of blacks, which was widely criticized.
The episode also provoked widespread outrage, and the network later pulled the show from airwaves.
But in the years that followed, the network’s racism remained a constant source of friction with critics, audiences, and even its own employees.
In 1988, comedian Bill Cosby was charged with aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and raping a woman.
The next year, the show “Saturday Night Live” drew national attention for its sketch about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
In 1991, comedian John Belinda Dixon was arrested on charges that he raped a female friend.
And the next year comedian George Carlin made headlines for a video he released in which he was heard to say, “I am the white man.”
In 2000, comedian and former “SNL” cast member David Letterman addressed racial tensions on his show.
“You are not alone,” Letterman said.
“I can see it in you.”
A few months later, comedian Eddie Murphy, who had been criticized for not having “a white friend,” apologized for his white friends on Twitter.
And in January of 2011, comedian Stephen Colbert said he didn’t think it was racist to say that he didn.
“We’re not the same race,” he said.
He continued, “It’s not racist, because you know it’s not.”
This month, comedian Aziz Ansari took to Twitter to address the ongoing racism.
“People who have black friends and white friends, people who are straight and gay, people of color, Asian Americans, the trans community, people with disabilities, and a whole lot more are not necessarily the same,” he wrote.
“They may be different in terms of race, but that doesn’t mean they’re not also different in how they see themselves, how they treat others, and how they approach their work.”
Ansari’s tweet was met with an onslaught of criticism from white conservatives, including Stephen Colbert, who said, “you should be ashamed of your own ignorance.”
A week later, Ansari apologized again, saying, “in a perfect world, I would have never used the term ‘white privilege.’
I am sorry.”
In the following months, comedians have continued to receive backlash from the backlash that came after their comments.
In October, comedian Patton Oswalt said he was fired from his role on “The Colbert Report” because he was “black,” and on January 28, 2017, comedian Amy Schumer wrote an essay in which she said that “people who are not white have a problem with me because I’m a white woman.”
And in the week before Thanksgiving, comedian Lenny Bruce wrote a series of tweets that were later deleted.
“This isn’t about race, it’s about the way I see the world,” he tweeted.
“The world is more complex than you make it out to be.”
The most famous of the many comedians who have faced racism from the anti-black backlash, “Saturday Live” star Louis C.K., was also targeted for racial abuse by the network, which fired him after a “Saturday Morning Show” sketch that included a racist joke about C.J. Watson.
In an interview with The New Yorker last year, C.M.K. said, “[Trump] is a white supremacist, a bigot, and he’s the one who should be blamed.”
In November, comedian Will Ferrell was suspended for five weeks after he was caught on camera telling a black audience member, “Don’t be so sensitive about your blackness,” in an infamous racist joke.
And on November 29, comedian Chris Rock was suspended from “Saturday’s New Year’s Eve” after a video surfaced that appeared to show him saying that “if the cops stop me, I’m gonna shoot somebody.”
In late January, comedian Louis C,k was suspended indefinitely by NBC after a racist rant about President Trump.
In response to the uproar, C,lk released a video in which, among other things, he said that people should “be careful what they wish for,” and that he hopes that “I’ll get killed.”
In March, comedian James Corden was suspended and removed from his television show after a sketch about a young woman who is raped by a white man was shown on the show.
On March 14, comedian Kathy Griffin, who has gained attention for her controversial political drawings and controversial caricatures, was suspended after an image of her holding