#TeamBlaria, I’mma be honest. When I heard that Chase said “nigger” on the set of his TV show Community, I was ready. To. FIGHT:
That’s right, I was about rip about off my clip on earrings that I got on sale from Macy’s and put on a do rag to protect my Wesley Snipes from Blade pointed afro from hair snatching hoes like I suspect Chevy Chase to be. I was not pleased, y’all. THEN, the complete details of what happened were released to accompany the attention-grabbing headline and e’erything changed. See, what had happened was that for some time now, Chase has been upset how his character Pierce Hawthorne, who is the kind of out of touch, racially insensitive old white dude, was evolving. The lines for that character became increasingly bigoted as the series as progressed, so Chase snapped like a too small condom on a banana during a sex education class and said
“What’s next? Am I gonna say the word nigger?”
Which made me want to do this to him:
aka I was confused and my thought process was basically like, “Oh, hmm, well, that…is…a…good…point, but I’m mad? Maybe?” Because on one hand, Chase wasn’t calling anyone that name and was pointing out the ridiculousness of how his character was being written, BUT on the other hand, dude is white and with proper Hollywood makeup, he could look like a slave owner from the movie Amistad, sooooooooo, like he shouldn’t be saying that shit. Clearly, I was conflicted, so I thought about it all: the context of his statement, the word itself, the historical significance, the fact that Black people were in the room (cast members Yvette Nicole Brown and Donald Glover), the fact that I use the word, albeit with an “a,” in jokes on this blog. It would be an understatement to say there were quite a few things to consider before deciding how I felt. Ultimately, I fell down on the side of this not being offensive and was being blown out of proportion for a few reasons.
#1) CONTEXT. That has to reign supreme because that is how people understand what is being said to them. Everything is framed within context, which is how we process the information being given and have the appropriate reaction to the situation at hand. It’s how I know that when a buddy of mine says to me, “Oh, my god, I was so hungry standing in line that I chewed half my arm off,” she is exaggerating so I don’t say, “Ooh, girl let me make you a tourniquet,” and instead I say, “Preach!” The same sort of understanding must be used for Chase’s comments. He simply was not saying, “Look at that nigger!!!” He was essentially saying, “With the rate things are going, you’re going to have my character call someone a ‘nigger.’” Like rubbing alcohol, that statement stings at first, but it’s stinging for a reason. Because the context of this situation, “I’m drawing a line in the sand. I don’t want to portray a bigoted character for laughs anymore.”
#2) DISTRACTION. This situation serves as a distraction in the discussion about race and racism. And I’m not surprised because things like this happen all the time. This reminds me of when Michael Jackson released his song They Don’t Care About Us, which is about prejudice and injustices towards different groups and he uses the word “kyke” as an example of oppression and suddenly it became that he hates Jews. Huh? What?! So a song that was essentially about defending those who suffer from prejudice became the Michael Jackson Hates Jews Song for a few weeks and people were outraged and said:
aka “Show me proof of all the Jews you know,” so MJ had to go around with a list of Jewish he’s cool with like it’s a the cover sheet to an I-9 that tells you all the acceptable forms of identification:
Point being, the focus shifted from the meaning of the song to how many Jewish people Jackson knows. And at the end of the day, no one benefits of this kind of distraction. Same goes for Chase. There are actual, legitimate instances of racism. Like Sarah Palin’s recent comments that President Obama’s response about Libya is an example of him “shucking and jiving,” which is a term from the Jim Crow era that was used to describe Blacks who pretended to work while being watched by White people or pretended to be obedient to White people in power, is incredibly racist. What’s racist is a casting director refused to hire a British & Pakistani woman to portray a hobbit in the The Hobbit because she wasn’t light skinned aka White, so she clearly couldn’t be a hobbit. Right because fictional creatures can only White. That’s racist. Every time I go to the organic grocery store, I’m followed around by the staff because they can’t possibly fathom that I afford fresh basil and Kombucha. That’s racist. What Chase did, while ill-advised and not the way I would’ve gone about it, was make a very valid point that he does not want to act like a racist character on a TV show anymore. I can’t vilify him for that and neither should other people.
#3) APOLOGY TOUR. I hate apologies. Well, that’s not true. I like them when they are warranted like in R&B love songs and at restaurants when the waiter forgets to put my salad on the side. Apologize away!! Okay, and when someone hurts my feelings, you can say sorry, too. But in the age of social media, apologies are coming at lightening speed. In the case with Chase, people became outraged immediately before all the details were released because if you show a picture of an old White guy looking angry with the word “nigger” next to it, it’s like walking into a dorm at an all-boy’s high school and yelling, “Free titties in the street!” People are gonna pay attention and be like, “Ooh, lemme see what this here is all about.” Same in this situation with Chase. This was an attempt to get people riled up and click on the story in order to get traffic to the site. And before you know it, people were publicly shaming him and Chase’s behind was probably nervous and shit:
like he was going to lose his job, or at the very least be severely reprimanded, so he apologized. But what for? He didn’t do anything wrong, in my eyes, and I hardly doubt that he meant it. Celebrities and famous people just apologize because they know it will pacify people and get their name out of the newspapers.
Look, I’m not saying people aren’t valid in feeling like “nigger” is a hurtful word. It is. I completely understand that. But I think to paint someone as a villain when the evidence clearly shows that he was using it to illustrate a point, I think is a tad unfair, totally shuts down any opportunity for discussion – ranging from what does it mean to have bigoted characters on TV, when does it cross the line from satire to to just becoming another source of vitriol – and instead ends it with, “He’s a White dude who hates Black people!” and we all will remain in the same place in the country when it comes to race. We need to stop functioning as a society that believes a bullshit apology over something that was misconstrued is “Mission Accomplished.” There’s actually something to learn from this incident. I just hope we learn it.