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Chris Rock Cracks Jussie Smollet Joke at NAACP Image Awards, Lights Up Social Media

Did they expect Chris Rock to actually listen?

On Saturday when the legendary comedian presented at the 2019 NAACP Image Awards, he said the producers told him not to joke about Jussie Smollett‘s arrest.

Chris Rock (left) made a joke about Jussie Smollett (right) at the 2019 NAACP Awards and sparked a debate. (Photos: Getty Images, Paras Griffin / Shareif Ziyadat)

On March 8, The “Empire” actor was indicted on 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct after police said he lied about being attacked by two white men in Chicago.

But the charges were dropped on March 26 by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, and some have voiced their support for the actor, while others, like Naturi Naughton, said he should be canceled.

Rock mentioned Smollett when he presented the award for outstanding comedy series.

“I guess I got to present an award,” he began. “They said no Jussie Smollett jokes. What a waste of light skin, ya know? You know what I can do with that light skin, that curly hair? My career would be out of here. [I’d be] f–king running Hollywood.”

The audience then broke into laughter, many cheered and Rock continued on.

“What the hell was he thinking?” he asked. “You are Jessie from now on. You don’t even get the u anymore. That u is respect. You ain’t getting no respect from me.”

The comedian eventually got to the nominees, and “Black-ish” received the award. Then Yara Shahidi spoke and countered what Rock said just minutes prior.

“I stand with Jussie,” said the actress and activist, who’s show “grown·ish” was also up for outstanding comedy series. “And we don’t integrate, we recreate.”

Social media blew up after that, and many applauded Rock for ignoring the producers’ guidelines.

“Respect for having the backbone to say what everyone is thinking,” one person wrote Sunday on YouTube.

“You gotta love Chris Rock, because he gives zero f-cks and says what the hell he wants,😂😂😂😂” someone else wrote.

But among those comments praising Rock, there were some people who said he was dead wrong.

One person also brought up an old clip that resurfaced in December 2018 when Rock sat idly by while fellow comedians Louis C.K. and Ricky Gervais said the n-word. It happened during a 2011 HBO comedy special titled “Talking Funny,” which also featured Jerry Seinfeld.

“How do we revoke @ChrisRock black card???” someone asked Sunday on Twitter. “Allowed others to say the N word and you don’t stop it, now jokes about @JussieSmollett. Trying to get your dead career started off of a whole race’s hurt & suffering is ridiculous. Getthehelloutofhere with your lame ass”

That person’s opinion seemed to be in the minority, however.

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