As Dave Chappelle, the multi-millionaire superstar comedian with multiple comedy specials on one of the world’s biggest media platforms, says is a victim of culture cancellation.
It’s so “canceled” that he’s booked a nearly sold out show for New Years Eve at Seattle’s new Climate Pledge Arena, where remaining tickets start in the hundreds of dollars.
As most people know by now, the release of Chappelle’s latest comedy special on Netflix, “The Closer,” resulted in walkouts by employees of the streaming service in October, following repeated and shameless attacks by the program against trans and homosexual people. These cruel and irreplaceable “jokes” make up about half of the show.
Last week, I sat down with local leaders of the black and Indigenous trans community on Zoom to get their thoughts and focus on the upcoming Climate Pledge Arena show and the ongoing controversy – perspectives that are too often eclipsed by Chappelle and his huge megaphone as well. like his legions of fans.
Jaelynn Scott, Executive Director of Lavender Rights Project, summed it up this way: It’s a âhuge slap in the face to bring the New Year with transphobia to our city,â inviting Chappelle to Seattle, a- she declared.
One of Chappelle’s main defenses that he gives in “The Closer” for not being transphobic is that in his heart he respects individual trans people on a personal level, especially an actress he has bonded with. friendship, Daphne Dorman, whose relationship he describes at length in one of the most manipulative sections of the show. But poet and educator J Mase III said the defense is irrelevant.
“I’ve seen a lot of people question whether or not Dave Chappelle is transphobic, which is what the conversation usually turns to,” Mase said. “And to me that doesn’t matter, because the point is, he’s learned to monetize trans people who oppose, right?” And so he found a market for it. He assumes that we are only a small part of the population, that he can get by and still make tons of moneyâ¦ he just learned a tactic that sells tickets.
Taking advantage of the antagonism of an extremely marginalized group is the definition of slaughter, but in Chappelle’s worldview, it targets racism. One of the fundamental problems with “The Closer” and its other shows is that Chappelle misunderstands gender, sexual orientation and race. In his view, his fight against trans and queer people is a fight against white anti-black racism. According to him, homosexuals and trans are equal in white, and cisgender and straight men are equal in black. Thus, criticism of him by trans and gay people is tantamount to criticism of white people rooted in racism.
It just doesn’t tell her you can be trans and Black or queer and Black at the same time. In part of “The Closer” he blatantly reveals his ignorance of this truth, saying, “Gay people are minorities until they need to go white again.”
Mattie Mooney, a community organizer, healthcare advocate and co-founder of the Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network, said that âthe root of a lot of the things he was saying was, ‘Well, I say these things because I know it’s gonna drive white people crazy. And there’s this general idea that trans people are equal to white people. … There is this separation between black and trans, right? You can’t do both at the same time.
âAnd I believe Dave Chappelle did the same with queer and gay identities as well. When he made jokes about gays and gays, it was very white-centric, and that definitely erased the experiences of black gays and gays, âMooney said. “And we know we can obviously be Black and Queer or Black and Trans, and both at the same time.”
Ebo Barton, artist, poet and director of housing services at the Lavender Rights Project, said part of the frustration is that while Seattle is talking about a good game, when it comes to standing up for black people or trans people, little concrete action is being taken.
âI’m not shocked as a Seattle resident, as someone who has lived in Seattle for 15 years, because that’s exactly what Seattle does,â Barton said. âThey don’t have the capacity to handle the complexities of multiple identities, and they never have. Many households in Seattle have Black Lives Matter signs on their lawns, they have Trans Lives Matter signs on their lawns. And once they have seen [the Dave Chappelle show coming], they should have thought about doing the job for us and not ourselves. And so it’s actually a slap in the face by any other cis person that lives in this town that claimed that either of those two identities matters, and then doing nothing, and we have to sit here and work for ourselves to get ourselves humanized by the rest of the country.
As Mooney points out, violence against black trans women is disproportionately high. As of fall, 2021 had already set a record as the deadliest year for trans people, with the majority of people killing black trans women.
âAnd although I don’t think anyone is saying or going out and saying, ‘Well, Dave Chappelle says this, I’m going to do XYZ,'” said Mooney, “I really feel like stepping up from these things come at a cost to black trans people and trans people of color, but especially trans women, black trans women who face disproportionately greater cases of violence for the mere fact of existing in as trans.
Ganesha Gold Buffalo, an African-indigenous educator, national organizer and performance artist, said part of the work needed is for the community at large to focus trans voices.
âA problem that we encounter time and time again, as a community and in spaces of movement like Native Black people of particular trans experience [is] that we are not listened to at all, âshe said. “It is this system of silence … that we regularly do not receive a platform for our voice. [and] that our voice is not carried because it is systematically silenced, systematically withdrawn from radars and systematically targeted and prevented from being heard on certain platforms.
Asked about community concerns about the upcoming show, a spokesperson for Climate Pledge Arena said in an email: âAs an inclusive organization, we welcome a wide range of artists, including those who voice. opinions that diverge from our views and values. While we do not restrict the free speech of our performers, we listen to our audience and support their own right to free speech in response. To that end, we have met with Seattle Pride to discuss their concerns and look forward to building a lasting relationship with their organization. “
Climate Pledge Arena did not immediately respond to follow-up questions as to whether it had any limits or guidelines on who uses the venue, or how to get Chappelle to align with its statement that this is “the arena.” the most progressive, responsible and sustainable in the world. “
On December 9, Seattle Pride released a statement calling on the arena to postpone the show until Chappelle apologizes and acknowledges the harm he has done to the transgender community. Seattle Pride executive director Krystal Marx met with arena officials last week and said the conversation was “encouraging.” She said the arena is looking to build stronger relationships with the LGBTQ + community in the future.
Scott said Chappelle and others would do well to learn more deeply about our true history.
“There was an association with whiteness with LGBTQ identity, but [trans and queer Black, Indigenous people and people of color] has always been around, âScott said. âAnd in fact, we started theâ¦ movements in this country. And so there is a lack of history here and an understanding of our history as LGBTQ people, there is a lack of history and understanding of the source, the roots, the heart of the LGBTQ movement in this country. And there are a lot of people out there who just need a basic education on blackness, homosexuality, and trans identity.