Key and Peele Take a Hard Jab at Police Brutality and Racism in America

May 6th 2015

Laura Donovan

Comedy Central sketch show Key & Peele just released an entertaining yet powerful sketch entitled "Negrotown," which is more relevant than ever in the wake of last week's unrest in Baltimore following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who was fatally injured in police custody.

Key & Peele's fifth season doesn't premiere until July, but the show posted a 5-minute video Wednesday that satirizes the Black community's struggle with police officers and jabs at common racist tropes in American society. At the beginning of the segment, a white cop approaches and tries to arrest Keegan-Michael Key’s character, an innocent Black male, for no reason at all. Then another Black man named Wally, portrayed by Jordan Peele, takes him to "Negrotown," the "place to be if your skin is brown," to escape the unfair treatment of Black people in America:

When Wally and Key's character cross over to Negrotown, Wally breaks out into song with people happily dancing in musical fashion, "Negrotown, you can walk the street without getting stomped, harassed, or beat. There's always a cab when you need to get around. And they always stop in Negrotown ... You won't get followed when you try to shop, you can wear your hoodie and not get shot."

The clip comes a week after Baltimore went into a state of emergency due to city-wide demonstrations over Gray's death. Last year, the police killings of Black men Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown shook up the nation and inspired the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag to call out police brutality.

As ATTN: reported this week, Baltimore is one of the poorest places in the country with almost a quarter of its residents living below the poverty line. Eighty-four percent of its public school students are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch. ATTN: also put together this video highlighting the shocking reality facing everyday Black people living in Baltimore:

5 Facts About Poverty in Baltimore

As Marilyn Mosby announces the charges for the death of Freddie Gray, it is worth highlighting a big issue underlying what's happened in the city: desperate poverty.

Posted by ATTN: on Friday, May 1, 2015

ATTN:'s Ashley Nicole Black described what it's like to grow up in that environment:

I could ask you to imagine that when you are born, your mother has an increased chance of dying during childbirth because of the increased stress of the racism she deals with on a day-to-day basis. Then imagine you're a baby and your very existence is used as fodder for the myth of Black women as "welfare queens" regardless of whether or not your mother is on welfare and regardless of the fact that the majority of people on welfare are white. Then you got to preschool -- except, you don't, because there are no high-quality preschools in your neighborhood. And your parents can't move because housing discrimination made it so that there were only a few neighborhoods for them to choose from. So then your neighborhood determines what public school you go to, and your school has little-to-no resources, the worst teachers, and zero-tolerance policies that lead to you getting suspended for behavior that would normally warrant a detention. And there are police officers in the school to arrest you for breaking school rules. That environment makes it incredibly difficult to learn, and it is an environment that is almost completely segregated. It is very difficult to actually graduate from a school with no books, but plenty of cops, but you do.

For more on Baltimore, check our coverage of the Freddie Gray case here and here.