Jamie Foxx was born as Eric Morlon Bishop on December 13, 1967 in Terrell, Texas. He first became well known through his television sitcom, The Jamie Foxx Show, which aired from 1996-2001. He has subsequently gained additional fame as a film star. For details about Foxx’s early years and the development of his professional career, click here.
On a number of occasions, Foxx, who says that “every single thing in my life is built around race,” has made public statements emphasizing the role that race plays in his worldview. In a 2005 interview with Oprah Winfrey, for instance, Foxx stated that “[F]rom what I experienced growing up [in Texas],” where he “was called a ni**er almost every day,” he “just couldn’t trust whites” thereafter. “In one sense,” he added, “I’m glad I had the experiences that I did in Texas, because now I can spot racism in a way that those who grew up in California cannot.”
When hosting the 2009 BET Awards ceremony in June 2009, Foxx said the following about the recently deceased pop star Michael Jackson: “We want to celebrate this black man. He belongs to us and we shared him with everybody else.”
At the Soul Train Music Awards in November 2012, Foxx, to thunderous applause, walked onto the stage and shouted: “It’s like church in here. First of all, give an honor to God—and our Lord and savior, Barack Obama! Barack Obama!” The audience responded with loud cheers, and Foxx urged them to “stand up” in honor of the recently re-elected U.S. president.
While hosting NBC’s Saturday Night Live the following month, Foxx said, early in his monologue: “I’m black, and I’m dressed all black cause it’s good to be black. Black is the new white.” He then stated that in his latest film, Django Unchained:
“I play a slave. How black is that?… But don’t be worried 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? But I’m going to tell you right now, speaking of blackness, my President, President Obama is back up in the White House four more years. How black is that?… But he going to be extra black this next four years.… he’s even changing his name … to President Barack Dikembe Mutombo Tupac Mandela Hussein Obama X. How black is that?”
In December 2012 Foxx told Vibe magazine: “[A]s black folks we’re always sensitive. As a black person it’s always racial.” He explained, for example, that if he attends a photo shoot where “Ritz crackers and cheese” are served, “I’ll be like, ‘Ain’t this a bitch. Y’all didn’t know black people was coming.'” By the same token, he added, if fried chicken and watermelon were to be served at such an event, he would be annoyed at the stereotype.
Foxx maintains that in his profession as an actor, he must act and talk in a particular, prescribed way around white people: “[T]he minute I leave my house, I gotta put my other jacket on and say, ‘Hey, Thomas, Julian and Greg.’ And I gotta be a certain person. But when I get home, my other homies are like, ‘how was your day?’ [And I answer] ‘Well, I only had to be white for at least eight hours today, [or] I only had to be white for four hours.'”
On November 16, 2012, Foxx told a reporter that “Republicans don’t take jokes well.” “I’ve performed for George W. Bush and all these guys ’cause I’m from Texas,” he said. “I did a big thing at the [Dallas] Cowboys’ new stadium. You got Bush there, I’m cracking jokes, and I said, ‘Come on, man, you gotta lighten up.’ They don’t take it well because all jokes have a layer of truth.”
At the BET Awards ceremony on June 30, 2013, Foxx wore a T-shirt bearing the image of Trayvon Martin, the black Florida teen whose shooting death in 2012 had sparked much controversy over gun control and racial profiling. The trial of George Zimmerman, the man who killed Martin, had begun on June 24, 2013. For details about the Martin-Zimmerman case, click here.
Speaking (on August 28, 2013) at the 50th anniversary commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, Foxx suggested that black entertainers could take the lead in carrying on King’s legacy. “It is time for us to stand up now and renew this dream,” he said, singling out Kanye West and Jay-Z, among others, as individuals who could play important roles in such a mission. Fox also stated that he recently had told his 19-year-old daughter that if she wanted to “get inspired,” she should “come listen” to Harry Belafonte, another featured speaker at the festivities in DC.
In October 2016, Foxx went to Caracas, Venezuela to visit President Nicolas Maduro, where he smiled and posed for photographs with Maduro in the presidential palace in Caracas. Venezuelan state media reported that the purpose of Foxx’s visit was to support the country’s socialist revolution, and to attend the signing of an agreement between Venezuela and its allies for the construction of homes for poor people.
For additional information on Jamie Foxx, click here.