Thursday, July 16, 2020

Nick-Cannon

 

Nick Cannon issued two apologies to the Jewish community on his social media:

First and foremost I extend my deepest and most sincere apologies to my Jewish sisters and brothers for the hurtful and divisive words that came out of my mouth during my interview with Richard Griffin. They reinforced the worst stereotypes of a proud and magnificent people and I feel ashamed of the uninformed and naïve place that these words came from. The video of this interview has since been removed.

While the Jewish experience encompasses more than 5,000 years and there is so much I have yet to learn, I have had at least a minor history lesson over the past few days and to say that it is eye-opening would be a vast understatement.

I want to express my gratitude to the Rabbis, community leaders and institutions who reached out to me to help enlighten me, instead of chastising me. I want to assure my Jewish friends, new and old, that this is only the beginning of my education—I am committed to deeper connections, more profound learning and strengthening the bond between our two cultures today and every day going forward.

Followed by:

I just had the blessed opportunity to converse with Rabbi Abraham Cooper director of global social action @SimonWiesenthal My first words to my brother was, I apologize for the hurt I caused the Jewish Community. On my podcast I used words and referenced literature I assumed to be factual to uplift my community, but instead turned out to be hateful propaganda and stereotypical rhetoric that pained another community. For this I am deeply sorry, but now together we can write a new chapter of healing.

As celebrity apologies go, these are excellent. It comes across as much more authentic and heartfelt than the usual “I apologize if anyone was offended” garbage we are used to seeing from celebrities. His tone was completely different than the non-apology he issued a mere 18 hours earlier:

As for Viacom, who is now on the wrong side of history, I will continue to pray for you. I don’t blame any individual, I blame the oppressive and racist infrastructure. Systemic racism is what this world was built on and was the subject in which I was attempting to highlight in the recent clips that have been circulating from my podcast. If I have furthered the hate speech, I wholeheartedly apologize.

But now I am the one making demands. I demand full ownership of my billion dollar “Wild ‘N Out” brand that I created, and they will continue to misuse and destroy without my leadership! I demand that the hate and back door bullying cease and while we are at it, now that the truth is out, I demand the Apology!

And, of course, only a day before that Cannon said to Fast Company:

“To me apologies are empty. Are you forcing me to say the words ‘I’m sorry’? Are you making me bow down, ’cause then again, that would be perpetuating that same rhetoric that we’re trying to get away from,” Cannon says. “What we need is healing. What we need is discussion. Correct me. I don’t tell my children to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ I want them to understand where they need to be corrected. And then that’s how we grow.”

“You can say sorry in as many different languages as you want to, and it means nothing,” Cannon continues. “But until someone truly understands where they may have been wrong or where they may have offended someone, then that’s where growth occurs.”

His talk about growth and education  is consistent between the interview and his new apologies. The recent posts capture his voice and appear sincere.

I hope he is.

However, you cannot disconnect his turnaround from his being fired by ViacomCBS. Both Cannon and Fox desperately needed for him to stay on as host of the hit show The Masked Singer. The apology came only after a day long discussion with Fox, as Variety reports the network’s statement:

“When we were made aware of Nick Cannon’s interview with Richard Griffin on YouTube, we immediately began a dialogue with Nick,” the network said in a statement. “He is clear and remorseful that his words were wrong and lacked both understanding and context, and inadvertently promoted hate. This was important for us to observe. Nick has sincerely apologized, and quickly taken steps to educate himself and make amends. On that basis and given a belief that this moment calls for dialogue, we will move forward with Nick and help him advance this important conversation, broadly. Fox condemns all forms of hate directed toward any community and we will combat bigotry of any kind.”

Cannon’s apology may or may not have been written by him, but it was certainly vetted by Fox’ PR department to ensure it checked all the boxes before he released his statement, freeing Fox to release their own.

Well, maybe not all the boxes.

ViacomCBS’ statement when they let Cannon go concentrated on his antisemitic statements and it downplayed his racist statements. The “Rothschilds control the world”  and “Blacks are the real Jews” themes are very offensive, but the worst part of the Cannon’s Class episode was his long racist monologue about how a lack of melanin causes “them” to be rapists, murderers and savages – and he identified “them” to include all white people (“Europeans”) as well as “Jewish people” and the “Illuminati.”

Because ViacomCBS fired him for antisemitism, Fox crafted his apology to only mention Jews – and not every white person on the planet. 

Which, ironically, helps promote the antisemitic trope that Jews control the entertainment industry.

There is a bigger issue here, though. The comments section for his apologies are a disgusting tire fire of Black antisemitism and racism. By at least a 10-1 ratio, Cannon’s fans look at the apology as being proof that Jews and the white devils have forced an outspoken Black man, in Cannon’s own words the day before, “to put the young negro in his place.”

I hope that Nick Cannon learns something in the coming months. But unless he takes a principled position to actively counter the hate that his fans have – partially because of him – then it is a drop in the bucket. The problem isn’t Nick Cannon’s hate or ignorance;  it is the hate and ignorance of the larger community that he identifies with and that identify with him. In the hundreds of comments I’ve read on his Facebook, I have not seen one Black person say that his racist and antisemitic statements were wrong. Some are sympathetic to his apology and many are angry, but I didn’t see any who learned a thing from Cannon’s quick conversion.

cancom

 

Cannon’s apology, however manufactured, is a good first step. The only way to know if it is sincere is to see what Cannon says in the coming months - not to the Jewish community but to his Black community.



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