Do Gay Lives Matter Less Than Black Ones?

The backlash to Kevin Hart’s backlash reveals the hypocrisy in how people react to racism and homophobia.

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Kevin Hart does his thing (Photo: YouTube)

Picture it: It’s 2010, and a popular white comedian tells a race “joke” during a televised stand-up special. It begins with him saying that one of his biggest fears is that his son will grow up and start dating black girls.

“I’m not racist,” he insists. “I have nothing against black people. Be happy. Do what you want to do. But me, being a white male, if I can prevent my son from dating black girls, I will.”

If a bit of white-supremacist wisdom didn’t get Junior to stick to his own race, and he caught him grinding on a black girl’s ass, the popular white comedian concludes, he would nip the interracial relationship in the bud by knocking them both down.

(Visions, not of sugarplums, but of the racist dad of Annabella Sciorra’s character in Jungle Fever smacking and beating her over her black boyfriend dance uncomfortably in my head.)

Lest viewers dismiss the popular white comedian’s “joke” as irony, a dig at the type of bigot he’s pretending to be, he regular drops the N-word offstage, in racist tweets. Sample: “I just saw a nigger put a whole chicken wing in his mouth and pull it out with no meat on it!!!!!!”

Eight years later, the popular white comedian, now solidly A-list, lands a gig hosting the Grammy Awards. Hours later, his old racist tweets start to resurface. Another sample: “u should ask the question like this, how many black men sweat when they wear dress shirts because white men don’t lmao p.s nigger.”

The black backlash begins

Controversy ensues, with blacks leading the charge. They ask: How could the National Academy of Arts and Sciences dare to invite someone with the popular white comedian’s racist history to host an event in which black musicians will figure prominently?

Although the popular white comedian has explained that he no longer is in the racist headspace because, well, it would be career suicide to stay there, he’s never formally apologized. He also has not used his massive platform to promote racial unity and show that he has indeed seen the light when it comes to blacks and no longer subscribes to “whites only.”

Faced with brutal backlash, the popular white comedian opts not to respectfully point out that he’s a different person than he was back then and he’d like to have the opportunity to prove it. Instead, he posts an Instagram video of himself lying in bed, criticizing his detractors for being negative and angry. “I am in love with the man I’m becoming,” he writes alongside it. “What’s understood should never have to be said.”

(In other words: “Accept my apology even though I haven’t actually offered one.” Apparently, telling people you’ve changed and no longer say and tweet racist things is tantamount to saying “I’m sorry” for doing it in the first place.)

When the Academy asks him to suck it up and apologize for real or risk losing the Grammy gig, he refuses and posts another Instagram video. In this one, he insists that he’s already addressed the racism in his past, so he won’t apologize for it now.

“I know who I am & so do the people close to me. #LiveLoveLaugh,” he captions this one.

An hour later, he announces on Twitter that he will no longer be hosting the Grammys. He doesn’t want controversy over him to overshadow the celebration of musical talent. He also belatedly apologizes to the black community.

I wonder…

I wonder if Kevin Hart would shrug and say, “Bygones.”

I wonder if Nick Cannon would hunt down N-word tweets from three popular white female comedians to show that the popular white male comedian has been treated unfairly.

I wonder if there’s a black celebrity alive who would publicly support him.

I wonder if the ladies of The View would bemoan the “mob mentality” and retroactive outrage that punishes famous people for past racist misdeeds when we should just accept an apology (or a non-apology) and move on.

I wonder if Joy Behar would suggest that comedians should get a pass for telling racist jokes because offending people is what comedians do.

I wonder if the “co-hosts” on The Wendy Williams Show would applaud loudly after watching the popular white comedian’s second Instagram video.

I wonder if people would turn the popular white comedian into a victim of the crybabies (i.e., the black community) and the latter into villains for daring to bring up someone’s racist past, for not accepting the popular white comedian’s claim that he’s evolved as being more than just words when there’s no real evidence that he indeed has changed, when as recently as three years ago, he co-starred with Will Ferrell in a movie littered with racist stereotypes.

I wonder if someone would tell me that I shouldn’t be offended by anything the popular white comedian said/tweeted in the past, and I should write a love-letter to him — or better yet, joke about the entire thing.

I wonder if the comments section of think pieces on the popular white comedian would be brimming with support from people saying that they, too, would be violently upset if their white child brought home a black love interest. (Well, judging from the comments section under the YouTube video above, many of his non-black fans probably would.)

I wonder if the popular white comedian’s career would remain pretty much intact, despite losing the Grammy gig. I wonder if he’d still be as big a draw as ever, even in such far-away lands as Australia.

This entire scenario is pure fantasy, of course, because we all know the industry would have cancelled the popular white comedian’s ascent in 2010, well before he reached the point of being Oscar host-worthy. Google “Racist” + “Paula Deen,” “Roseanne Barr,” and “Megyn Kelly” to see how this works.

You can get away with a lot of things in entertainment, but when it comes to offending, once you go black, there’s no going back.

Written by

Brother Son Husband Friend Loner Minimalist World Traveler. Author of “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?” and “Storms in Africa”

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