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It is no secret from where comedians find subject matter for their standup routines. Sources are usually family and the latest headlines. When writing his fourth book 18 months ago, D.L. Hughley did not know that the time we are now in would be his reward for “Surrender White People!: Our Unconditional Terms for Peace.”
Hughley and his writing partner Doug Moe wrote the book as a satirical approach to the ills of racism in America. The timely release of the straight-talking alignment of history and current events comes against a backdrop of high-profile murders of Black people, a global pandemic, and Hughley’s own recovery from COVID-19. As a thoughtful observer of life, his insights parallel our lives right now.
“You can be asymptomatic and still do a lot of damage,” Hughley said in comparing the coronavirus pandemic with racial relations in America. “People don’t feel they are doing things expressly or purposely. You can be asymptomatic to racial bias, racism, and white supremacy, but that doesn’t mean that things and people aren’t getting hurt.”
As the pandemic took hold of the world and people were held hostage in their homes, the daily realities of Black life in America were viewed repeatedly on television. Those scenes were influencing non-Black America and around the world. A diverse coalition took to the streets. Hughley never imagined what he envisioned in “Surrender” would unfold as he was in quarantine from coronavirus.
“One thing the pandemic did was to make everyone sit down for a while,” Hughley said. “There were so many fewer distractions that people could pay attention. They could lock into things.”
“Surrender,” a follow-up to Hughley’s New York Times bestseller “How Not to Get Shot,” uses provocative phrasing to get the reader’s attention. He was taken aback at how shocked and appalled people were over the death of George Floyd. The incident was a horrific setup for what Hughley has been attempting to teach for decades through his standup routines, his writings, his radio show, and his television show.
“People were rightfully appalled,” he said. “It was heartening to see people take to the streets. But some of those same people that were appalled about George Floyd and want justice done are some of the same people who fight for monuments of men who did far worse.”
The world is blessed that Hughley has bounced back from what was a mild case of coronavirus. His shake-you smart approach to problem-solving comes with a list of topics he wants to see tackled in America including reparations, inequality in education, police and white supremacy, Black Lives Matter activism, and unequal access to health care, one of the many big challenges for COVID-19 patients.
“America has an interesting relationship when it comes to race, bias and systemic oppression,” said the award-winning author, producer and comedian. “What I didn’t count on was America’s perspective shifting on a dime. In my lifetime, I’ve never seen America make this big a turn so quickly.”
Readers of “Surrender” may see Hughley as a guy who can predict the future. The reality is that he is a Black man who has dealt with the past, is living in the present, and desires to chart a course for where America should be.
“The truth of us is in conflict with the idea of us,” he said. “Having some of the conversations we are having now is heartwarming, interesting, and it reaffirms a level of belief in America. People are touched and are wanting to find out what they can do.”
“Surrender White People!: Our Unconditional Terms for Peace” by D.L. Hughley is published by William Morrow and Company.