I have to take this moment to speak to the zeitgeist, and address the Dave Chappelle “comedy” special Sticks & Stones. There are so many blurry, weird, double-nuanced, hypocritical, eye-opening and enlightening darkness-filled thoughts in this Netflix stand-up—my head couldn’t stop spinning.
There were moments of absolute bravery and revelation, but the problem I constantly had with what Dave was trying to say insightful but biting things about were his jokes about transgender people. He constantly got it wrong, got it backwards, took it too far, or just didn’t get the memo on what was appropriate to say.
I was disappointed in how ancient his morality was about the trans community. He did have one joke that was quite insightful about how trans people are seen in the world, but for the most part there were so many problematic statements given. He even said, “My wife never likes these jokes and always says I should take them out,” and I totally agree with her.
I took strange notice of one thing Dave said: “Anyone I make fun of—gay, lesbian, poor, etc.—I just want you to know that for me to make fun of you, I have to see a part of myself in you…” But I always think, why don’t you remember how shitty your trans jokes are in the moment? Do you see yourself in them, or think they see themselves in you?” It’s a failing that Dave Chappelle keeps ignoring his complicity as he brings many other genius thoughts to the forefront.
The discrepancy between his trans awareness and his Black American awareness (and how they connect) is disappointing, without a doubt. How do we reach people like him? I don’t know, but I know my trans friend reached out to me two days after Sticks & Stones came out and said, “Fuck, Dave. He’s not respectful to trans people at all.” And I had to agree.
The world is complex, but there are times where things are simple—when it comes to transgender support: it’s love or leave!
Did you see Sticks & Stones? Share your thoughts in the comments!