There’s been a lot of anger over the last couple of days about Kevin Hart’s previous tweets and comments about LGBTQ and more recent anti-Indigenous actions. While I initially didn’t agree with or understand the fury with which he was being attacked (like some others on twitter) I realized that there are several main reasons this is a problem, both with Hart and myself.
Kevin Hart is not only wrong, but he needs to understand he should admit to being wrong and say, “I’m sorry” without having to be harassed into it. The main problems are: he never apologized for those tweets as far as I have found, based off recent responses he doesn’t seem to understand why he is wrong and, it’s not my place, as a straight female, to deny what the LGBTQ community feels with these tweets or what Indigenous people feel by his behavior. Both communities’ reactions are equally valid.
Homophobic Tweets and…The Apology?
His old tweets that were brought up, show him using homophobic slurs to insult people’s behavior or appearance. There’s even one equating a man looking like a “gay billboard for AIDS”. He also said he would feel he did something “wrong” if his son was gay and he would do what he can to prevent his son being gay.
While we can say, “Well, it was more accepted at the time” for the tweets: accepted does not equal okay. Just because something isn’t frowned upon by society does not mean it isn’t wrong.
The other reason this is a problem, even though these are old tweets, is Kevin Hart never apologized. In an interview he acknowledged times were different, he acknowledged there is a lot more hate crimes against LGBTQ and then said he “didn’t want problems” from people who want to “make something out of nothing”. He understood that it’s “not a joke to them”.
While on the surface, this may seem good enough, look at the language he is using. The implied blame here rests with them. They are going to cause him problems not, the tweets he made are causing him problems. They are going to “make something out of nothing” suggests his tweets are nothing and it’s them who are making a mountain out of a molehill. He’s shifting responsibility off his shoulders and draping it over the people offended by his tweets who don’t see it as a “joke”. Saying it’s “not a joke to them” further proves that he thinks the them is the problem in this situation, not him. And he never says, “I’m sorry” once in this interview.
So his claims of not apologizing “again” when there was never a first apology ring false. If this was a pseudo apology it, belongs up there alongside Lena Dunham’s recent abysmal attempt.
Regarding his son, if you’re saying you’ll do what you can to prevent, that indicates a dangerous view of people who are LGBTQ that has persisted and contributes to their persecution — that being gay is a choice or something you can catch if proper “safeguards” aren’t in place.
People do not choose. You do not choose to be straight, choose to be gay or any other identity. It is, quite simply, who you are. His viewpoint will not only damage his son if his son is gay, but teaching him there is something “wrong” with being gay leads a new generation to hate and target those who are.
Cowboys and Indians
Not as many are talking about this, but what also demonstrates a pattern that Kevin Hart is unable to empathize with groups of marginalized people that he himself is not a part of is the Cowboys and Indians party he threw for his 1-year old.
He defends that this party is not “malicious” and it’s just a game that’s been played for years and willfully ignores the history behind that game and those Western movies he’s referencing. They weren’t created out of imagination, but through the white supremacist slant of the director who was paying homage to what they consider to be an amazing, exciting historical time that decimated and destroyed countless lives in its day and continues to target, silence and destory Indigenous people who are here now.
It’s also tragic that their pain is rarely shared outside the Indigenous community on social media and that is something all minority groups should reflect on. There’s a reason Indigenous people have the highest suicide rates in their teens and early 20s. There’s a reason Indigenous people yelling at the top of their lungs about Indian Halloween costumes don’t get as much attention online. They are still being ignored, overlooked and erased— not only by white society — but by fellow marginalized communities. They have a right to a seat at the table; to have their voices heard, and should not be told or forced to wait.
There are people siding with Kevin Hart and let’s look at some of their arguments.
He shouldn’t have to keep apologizing. That claim that he already apologized about those tweets and shouldn’t have to keep apologizing. While I do agree no one should have to apologize for years, they have to first apologize. If you have a piece that links to an apology Hart made about the homophobic tweets in his past I’d like to know. But if it was before the “I don’t want no problems” interview, it’s voided because that interview showed he still didn’t fully understand the problem lies with him and not others.
It’s jokes — there’s no malicious intent. One of the worst excuses used time and time again. This is quickly becoming the “thoughts and prayers” of apologies. INTENT DOES NOT MATTER. To make it relatable let’s look at Bette Midler. When she stated woman are the n-word of the world, did the fact that she didn’t mean harm matter? Did it change the anger, pain and disappointment you felt? Did it change the fact that she erased black women’s experiences by equating a white women’s suffering with a black women’s? How it is received will and should always trump intent. If lack of intent was all that was needed to avoid accountability there would be no need for police.
The whataboutism. Those who trot out racists, homophobic, transphobic comments made by others. Yes, while there may be a conversation to be had as to why certain people (white) get forgiven faster or receive less backlash from some people; however, that does not change what Kevin Hart did, nor does it make him any less accountable. Honestly, I was furious with Bette Midler and no, I haven’t forgiven her for her tweet because I don’t believe she learned anything. Only time will show if she has. The same applies with Kevin Hart. Apology is part of the what is needed, then he has to demonstrate that he has changed and that may take time. An apology without actual change is hollow.
Kevin Hart, from his homophobic tweets to his anti-Indigenous party to his current tweet quoting MLK, does not understand what he did wrong. So, even the apology tweet after he withdrew from the Oscars is disingenuous. He feels he is a victim, facing adversity because of his ‘morally’ correct stance.
Stand In Solidarity
After thinking on it and looking at some of the comments I made I realize that it doesn’t matter what I say and, more importantly, it shouldn’t. Me trying to tell any LGBTQ member or Indigenous person that it’s “no big deal” or it’s “in the past” is doing to them what white people do to us. And when white people try to do that to me all I think is, “you don’t get to decide what is racist”, “you don’t get to tell me that my experience and feelings aren’t real”.
Me doing that to them makes me a hypocrite. It took putting it in terms of race for me to fully understand how wrong I was and I’m very sorry that I made some people online feel the kind of toxic pain that I feel when I argue with white people. That helpless rage that has no outlet and just sits and seethes inside is not something I would want to inflict on any minority, but I did. I have no doubt we will make a mistake like this again because we are human, but we can do our utmost to realize it, apologize and show our sincerity.
You have no right to tell an LGBTQ person or an Indigenous person that they are wrong to feel a certain way. We can’t understand the pain inflicted because we are not on the receiving end. What we need to do is support other marginalized groups. Share their feelings of outrage.
Just like we tell white people to amplify our voices, we should be doing the same for our fellow minorities. Amplify their voices online, let them know you stand with them and make sure you let them know that what they feel matters — that they matter.