Can we talk? I mean really open up and share our innermost authentic selves with one another? Not politically correct, surfacy chitchat that’s currently prevalent in this country, but a genuine conversation without the fear of backlash from our partisan mainstream media and everyone else who may hold an opposing view? Not in today’s society! But I don’t care. So, here goes. Let’s be real.
Kevin Hart, comedian and rising movie star, was lambasted not too long ago for decade’s old so-called homophobic tweets and a 2010 performance in which he shared his desire for his young son to be a heterosexual. Let me be perfectly clear here. I’ve said this to the missus, I’m saying it here, and I’d unapologetically profess it to the world, if I had such a platform, that I also would rather a son of mine be straight than gay. I’d continue to love my child regardless, but I would not be attending any gay weddings or celebrating homosexuality in the streets. What’s wrong with that? Let’s be real. Nothing!
However, Kevin Hart lost a prestigious hosting gig simply because he feels as I do on this matter. It does seem like Mr. Hart initially apologized before almost immediately retracting his apology, apparently after realizing he actually did nothing wrong and deciding it would be better to be true to himself. Why even publicly apologize if one is not sincerely remorseful in REAL life? Steve Harvey, comedian and television extraordinaire, touched upon this very subject during an episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. The pair were discussing stand-up comedy and how people are now offended about everything, and sometimes an entertainer has to apologize when someone takes to Twitter and Instagram in calling the “offender” out.
This happened to Steve Harvey after he joked about a fictitious character (he made up) as being a “half-wit.” Mr. Harvey said, “I apologized. I had to do it.” Jerry asked, “Why, why do you have to do it?” “Cuz I got a talk-show,” Harvey responded. “Cuz now here comes a sponsor, and all the rest of them have to piggyback and act righteous, too. Oh, they’re pulling their sponsorship. Well, we gotta act like we care, too. They don’t really care. They don’t really care. But they gotta act like they do. It’s the deal. We gotta act offended.” I think it’s quite shameful when people – even in the entertainment industry – are coerced into spurning their authentic selves.
Someone who I think should be authentically remorseful today is Governor Ralph Northam. The Virginia Democrat admitted to being in a photograph, taken in 1984, either wearing blackface or clad in KKK Klansman garb. He retracted his admission the very next day, claiming he wasn’t even in the picture. I’m not nearly as concerned with what Governor Northam may or may not have been donning a few decades ago (more on that later) than I am with what I perceive as his bold-faced lying at this present time. How can an individual honestly not know whether or not he is one of the two people appearing in a photo, or remember whether or not he wore such a peculiar costume as a young adult? Let’s be real. I’m not buying it.
Over the years, I’ve transformed into many characters for Halloween’s sake. I know I’ve been a pirate, a vampire, Peter Criss of KISS fame, and numerous monsters and football players (probably even O.J. Simpson) when trick-or-treating as a youngster. If I ever went as The Juice, although assuredly I was not in blackface, I certainly wouldn’t apologize for it now. I may not have a recollection of every costume worn during my childhood, but I undoubtedly would remember if I ever mimicked such a unique character such as a member of the KKK, Hitler, Madonna, or the Pope. So, let’s be real Governor Northam.
I am not opposed to the use of blackface – even today. Megyn Kelly literally lost her job at NBC a short while ago simply for stating what I just penned. (For the record, Ms. Kelly personally never wore blackface.) But let’s be real. I’ve researched this topic before, for my own education, and there’s more to the art form of blackface than what’s being depicted on social media and transmitted to our television screens. Blackface originated in the 19th century. Both blackface and whiteface are forms of theatrical makeup that’s used to change a performers race to match a specific role they’re playing on stage.
Blackface minstrels, on the other hand, were personified performances promoting racial stereotypes. The minstrel style of blackface back then and now (the practice continues in other countries) is unequivocally despicable. However, I see nothing malicious with neither blackface nor whiteface when used responsibly to emulate someone of a different race for costume parties or Halloween. What would be a good way for me, a handsome Caucasian, to transform into a LeBron James, Prince, or Beyonce look-alike? I’d suggest the obvious altering of my skin tone. I’d offer that same recommendation to any African-American desiring to imitate the likes of Tom Brady, Elton John, or Lady Gaga. What’s amiss or offensive about that? Let’s be real. Nothing!
Political correctness demands we rail against blackface, and many other things, but I will not. If we are so delicate that we’re attempting to rid this country of all things remotely connected to the ugly history of slavery (history being the operative word) then what’s next? The elimination of all whips and chains? A ban on all ships within our severely sensitive society? The day I succumb to political correctness is the day I forfeit all reality and become a disingenuous phony of a human being. Let’s be real. That ain’t gonna happen.