Brow Beat

Here’s What That Stacey Dash Joke at the Oscars Was All About

At Sunday’s Oscars, Stacey Dash popped onstage with Chris Rock—as the “new director” of the Oscars’ “Minority Outreach Program”—to say one thing: “I cannot wait to help my people out. Happy Black History Month.” If you were left scratching your head, here’s a quick explanation.

It all started in January, when, in response to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Dash told Fox & Friends that the BET Awards and Black History Month should be done away with:

Because we have to make up our minds. Either we want to have segregation or integration. If we don’t want segregation, then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the Image Awards, where you’re only awarded if you’re black. If it were the other way around, we would be up in arms. It’s a double standard.  

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For her part, Dash has also already issued an explanation of her Oscars moment. From Patheos:

When they added ME to increase the diversity, I’m sure many black people rolled their eyes. I’m not “black enough,” they say. But guess what? I’ve heard that all my life. I would rather be a free thinking, black than a cookie cutter black who thinks—and votes—just like all my friends.

Backstory aside, Dash’s appearance at the Oscars was a joke that, for the most part, those outside the sphere of Black Twitter might not have understood. In some ways, bringing Dash into the fold for a joke the white audience wouldn’t necessarily understand might have been Chris Rock’s biggest coup so far. 

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Read all of Slate’s coverage of the 2016 Oscars.

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