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Chet Hanks

Source: Imeh Akpanudosen / Getty


Today in You Tried it News…

Chet Hanks, son of iconic actor Tom Hanks, wants everyone who has something to say about his use of the n-word to know that he can say it if he wants to. Yup. This privileged sumumabish posted a statement and video on his Instagram claiming that hip-hop isn’t about race, and that it’s about the culture you identify with. He added, “can’t nobody tell me what I can say.”

Sigh.

Let’s start with what hip-hop is about, because that’s complicated. When hip-hop started in the late 70s, it was about originality and celebrating a culture of young people who were often marginalized and yes, there were White hip-hop heads early on, but they knew better and would get checked quick if they overstepped their boundaries. Hip-hop has since morphed and been bastardizded (or evolved depending on who you’re talking to) over the decades, and I’m not sure what it’s about other than “mainstream appeal” (read money), and often, habitual line steppers are allowed to keep line stepping under the guise of hip-hop being global (read: Iggy Azalea being let off the hook for the slave master line).

Now about that pesky n-word. This is a debate that will continue to be circular, because some people think it should be eradicated and others think it’s okay to say as long as you’re using the version that ends with the “a” and not the “er,” and both sides are at a stalemate. Then you have the White folks like Chet Hanks who probably have a Black friend that allows him to say it because he’s “down,” despite knowing why it’s not okay for him to say it. He said in that Instagram video that he knows most of us aren’t going to get it since the history of the word is still fresh, but you know, he can say whatever he wants, because, hip-hop and rebel, and…whatever…

Someone who actually respected the culture wouldn’t say it on g.p.

Some people will say that  that the only reason non-Black people continue thinking it’s okay to say the n-word is because rappers say it, but that’s a cop out. We all have logic enough to know why it’s not okay as Hanks mentioned in that video. There is a long, deep, ugly history attached to the word, and for the Black kids who began using the version ending with an “a” in hip-hop, it was a way for them to take away some of the word’s awful stigma and reclaim its power. But again, let’s not forget that Chet Hanks is privileged. Usually, in the case of the word, privileged people balk  when they’re told they can’t say it with the trite retort, “Why can’t I say it if they can?” Knowing full well why. Chet Hanks is just disguising that same privilege as someone who, in his mind, gets a pass because he is  immersed in the culture.

Here’s his full statement:

If I say the word nigga I say it amongst people I love and who love me. If I say “fuck yall hatin ass niggaz” it’s because that’s really how I felt at the time. And I don’t accept society getting to decide what ANYBODY can or can’t say. That’s something we call FREE SPEECH. Now I understand the older generation who grew up in the Jim Crowe era might have strong feelings against this. And that’s understandable… But what I’m saying is this is 2015… And even tho we are still far from where we need to be and black people are still being literally KILLED by a RACIST and fucked up system… We have also reached a point where the word can no longer have a negative connotation if we so choose. And who is to say only black people can use it? The way I see it, it’s a word that unifies the culture of HIP-HOP across ALL RACES, which is actually kind of a beautiful thing. It’s a word that can be used out of camaraderie and love, not just exclusively for black people. What’s the point in putting all these built up “rules” about it. It’s time to let go. You can hate me or love me for it, but can’t nobody tell me what I can or can’t say. It’s got nothing to do with trying to be a thug. It’s about the culture of the music. And that’s all I have to say about that (no pun intended) lol. It’s all love. Some people will get it, some people won’t. Either way, Ima keep living my life however the fuck I want. ALL LOVE.

That’s all fine until he says it around the wrong people.

Chet Hanks, you tried it!

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