Questlove is a six-foot-two black man. So I can imagine he’s experienced his share of overt racism. He talks and writes about it sometimes. In the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, he wrote the following:
I don’t know how to not internalize the overall message this whole Trayvon case has taught me:
You ain’t shit.
That’s the lesson I took from this case.
You ain’t shit.
These words are deep because these are words I’ve heard my whole life.
And yet this happens.
Additionally, he posts videos of Japanese people going about their lives with the intention of poking fun at them. Because they’re fucking hilarious! Like the woman speaking Japanese in Japan! Can you imagine? She apparently “talks in tongues,” according to Questlove.
And according to ONTD, he has an L/R joke that was posted way back in November of 2012. And he still thinks it’s funny stuff more than a year later.
But today he posted an “apology” on facebook. Here it is:
ok. addressing the elephant in the room on christmas
unfortunately, i’ve offended my asian brothers & sisters with an IG post which i made during my recent tour of japan. in that post, i likened a japanese department store employee’s vocal intonation to that of a (church) deacon speaking in tongues. clearly, i didn’t intend to offend anyone (asian or otherwise), clearly, i *thought* that comparison was funny-cute
… and clearly i thought wrong.
in hindsight, it’s easy to see how my post was yet another example of the ugly, american flipping yet another ugly/racially/culturally insensitive script. so, let me make this abundantly clear….
THE ISH THAT I SAID WAS DUMB (PERIOD).
And no, it wasn’t Duck Dynasty/Phil Robertson mean spirited-xenophobic dumb (but the last time i checked, sleep was still the cousin of death)
—look. i’m a human being and dumber yet, i’m a public figure. if you’re lucky enough to be either of the aforementioned, then not only should one stay clear of saying or writing hurtful things, one should actively work against feeling comfortable, thinking hurtful thoughts. given that black culture consistently finds itself at the butt end of so many offensive “outsider” jokes, I should be way, way more sensitive (after all, who’s zooming who). I for one, should never allow my cultural bias to take precedence over my “examined life” (clunkers be damned). i know the whole kinder and gentler thing reeks of a self serving political correctness, but eff it, it’s “all me”.
so, here i am once again, publicly coming to terms with some more of my stupid “say, say, say” ish. allow me to ask for forgiveness and understanding from anyone that i’ve offended. I will be better in 2014 (i promise)
And now he’s probably feeling all pleased with himself, because the accolades are pouring in. Because people are hastening to assure him he has nothing to apologize for. Because he couldn’t have meant anything by it. Because he didn’t intend to be racist and he didn’t mean anything by what he did. Because obviously he posted those videos without any intention whatsoever of making fun of those people. Uh huh.
Oh yeah, and he said “offended.” Instead of “reinforced white supremacy.” And he also said “an IG post.” “An” as in singular. And now he realizes he thought a hurtful thought. But that’s part of being a public figure and a human being.
Because he is a human being. He writes the following at the end of his post about “I ain’t shit”:
Because, at the end of the day, I’m still human.
He asserts his humanity, because racism strips people of the ability to see others as fully human. He asserts his humanity even while he dehumanizes others and makes them the butt of a joke.
Because that internalized crap runs deep. And a racist system functions most efficiently when everybody buys into it. Congratulations, Questlove. You’re right. You ain’t shit. And you support it.