Tom Hanks‘ rapper son, Chester, is the latest White artist to appropriate the n-word, and he’s sparking a bombastic debate on social media.
Gawker reports that early Tuesday morning, Chester, whose rapper name is Chet Haze, posted an Instagram video to explain that “hip-hop isn’t about race. It’s about the culture you identify with. And nobody can’t tell me what I can’t say.”
By his own admission, however, Chet knows most of you won’t “get” it, so he accompanied his video with a 280-word screed about how “fuck[ing one’s] hating ass [n*ggaz]” is actually an inalienable right protected by the Constitution:
If I say the word nigga I say it amongst people I love and who love me. If I say “[f*ck] yall hatin ass [n*ggaz]” 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 [f*cked] 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 [f**k] I want. ALL LOVE.
Bu in a piece at The Daily Beast, Stereo Williams urges Chet to, ahem, check his White privilege.
White hip-hop artists are expressing themselves in a medium that is defined by its connection to blackness. With more and more white rappers gaining visibility from white platforms and gaining “credibility” from white media outlets, it’s important to recognize exactly what that means. Appropriation is insidious, and if we’re not vigilant, one day you’re going to look up and see a Whole Foods where hip-hop used to be. White Hollywood stars hopping on stage with harmonicas and shades to play music that was born of the pain of the black sharecropper was a distortion and erasure of the blues’ significance; and the essence of hip-hop gets sterilized and bastardized when rich white kids toss around terms like “hating ass niggaz” without ever having to feel the painful sting of being a “nigger” in society’s eyes. Whether it’s an early Eminem freestyle or Forrest Gump’s kid posting on Instagram, all white people must accept that “nigger” is not their word to say.And a white rapper like “Chet Haze” needs to check his damn privilege.