Foxx was joking about his 2012 movie “Django Unchained,” in which he played a slave-turned-bounty-hunter who set out to free his wife from an evil plantation owner. The joke refers to a scene in which his character gets to exact revenge on all the people who imprisoned and brutalized his fictional wife and other Black slaves.
In August 2023, actor Jamie Foxx faced accusations of antisemitism after he posted and deleted an Instagram photo that stated "They killed this dude name Jesus... What do you think they'll do to you?" along with the hashtags "fake friends" and "fake love." He apologized for the post, saying he was betrayed by a "fake friend" and did not mean anything more by it.
Another old quote attributed to Foxx began making the rounds on social media again soon after that. One Twitter user shared the clip from a monologue he made on comedy show "Saturday Night Live" in 2012, saying "Why are we applauding this?!?!? Jamie Foxx actually said, "I kill all the white people in the movie, how great is that?" and the crowd went WILD!!! This is what modern-day RACISM looks like!!!"
Why are we applauding this?!?!?
Jamie Foxx actually said, "I kill all the white people in the movie, how great is that?" and the crowd went WILD!!!
This is what modern-day RACISM looks like!!! pic.twitter.com/9K9TW2lV0d
— Graham Allen (@GrahamAllen_1) August 7, 2023
The clip is indeed real, and from when Foxx hosted "Saturday Night Live" in December 2012. While he did say those words, the 2023 tweet ignored that it was uttered as a joke in reference to Foxx's role in the movie "Django Unchained." It was also scripted (i.e., not extemporaneous) as an introduction to the comedic sketches of the night.
In the monologue, titled "How Black Is That?" in a video clip on SNL's official YouTube channel, Foxx makes comments and jokes about Blackness by talking about a range of different issues ranging from his nice suit, to former U.S. President Barack Obama, to sports. He also talked about "Django Unchained," in which he played a slave turned bounty hunter who set out to rescue his wife from an evil plantation owner played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Foxx said in the monologue:
I got a movie coming out, Django Unchained, check it out. I play a slave. Uh, how black is that?
And in the movie I have to wear chains. Umm ... how whack is that?
But don't worry about it, because I get out of the chains, I get free, I save my wife, and I kill all the white people in the movie. How great is that? And how black is that?
Taken in context, Foxx was simply describing the events of the movie, which was directed by Quentin Tarantino. The movie is known for its violence and its brutal depictions of slavery. As such, joking about killing white people in the context of a film in which said white people inflict violence and death on Black slaves, does not seem as problematic as the posts make it out to be.
This was not the first time that particular line from the SNL monologue generated outrage. We covered the context around this quote back in 2012 when it first made the rounds.
Foxx's Instagram post referencing the killing of Jesus led to widespread controversy, with many saying it referenced a harmful trope against the Jewish community. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) noted in a report, "The myth that Jews collectively murdered Jesus, also referred to as 'deicide,' has been used to justify violence against Jews for centuries."
However, social media users defended Foxx's use of the phrase as a common colloquialism used by Black people to describe a betrayal by those closest to you, referring to backstabbers like Judas, and was not used in an antisemitic context.
"They killed Jesus" is a common black colloquialism to describe betrayal by those close to you. There's not a single black person thinking about disrespecting an ethnic group or religion when we use that term. It's about the behavior of backstabbers like Judas.
— ICY 🧁 (@IcyTheARTIST) August 5, 2023
Foxx wrote in another Instagram post in response to the outrage, "I want to apologize to the Jewish community [...] I now know my choice of words have caused offense and I'm sorry. That was never my intent. To clarify, I was betrayed by a fake friend and that's what I meant with 'they' not anything more."
While Foxx did make the statement about "killing white people," in context it was clearly a scripted joke about his role in a movie that depicted the horrors of slavery in a violent way.