Update 10:19am ET: Katt Williams has issued a public apology. “My remarks were not meant to be offensive. I want to apologize if my comedy was taken out of context,” Williams said Thursday morning, according to CNN.
In case you haven’t been on the interwebs in the past couple days, former pimp-turned-comedian Katt Williams went on an anti-Mexican, anti-Latino, anti-immigrant tirade in Phoenix last Saturday. We won’t rehash his minute-men channeling here. Javier Gonzalez at the Soundstrike, an international artists coalition that’s leading the boycott of Arizona in the wake of the racist SB 1070, and writer/activist Luis Rodriguez each have great unifying points and historical take-downs. Check them out. Also, Presente.org has started a petition reaching out to Williams’ agent for an apology.
The National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities’ Facebook update sums up how many of us feel: “We come in all colors, races and ethnicities; including the many Afro-Latinos. Let’s not waste time on episodes based on ignorance …” YES. And while we need comic relief as we wrestle with solutions to all the isms out there, let’s be clear that there are brilliant comedians who are not promoting hate.
Williams has been making people laugh with questionable sexist, misogynistic and homophobic punch lines since way before Saturday. Sadly, his behavior has been consistently erratic in recent years. But just as consistent is his violent brand of pimp humor. Oppression comes in all forms and violent language often leads the way. This is where we have to continue to check ourselves about who we give our money to and what exactly we are laughing at, even if it’s Williams’ celebrated animated character A Pimp Named Slickback.
Lucky for us, there are lots of comedians out there we could support that are doing race well, and leaving out other garbage. Some of our favorites here at Colorlines and Drop the I-Word are Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho, Hari Kondabolu, Elon James White and W. Kamau Bell. (Full disclosure: Bell is on the board of our publisher, Applied Research Center). Check them out!
This post has been updated since publication.
Wanda Sykes takes down the i-word:
Margaret Cho on “Asian Chicken Salad.”
Hari Kondabolu on diamonds allegedly “found” in India:
W. Kamau Bell on Muslims, the Tea Party and Milkshakes:
Elon James White on what to do if you’re stopped by the cops or ICE.