If it’s one thing we can take from the Michael Richards rant heard ’round the world, it is unquestionably this: green is still the most universally accepted color throughout the country and when that one is at stake, men suddenly walk a little bit differently.
Last Sunday, comedian Michael Richards, aka Kramer from Seinfeld, continued his I’m-not-a-racist grand tour with an appearance on Rev. Jesse Jackson’s “Keep Hope Alive” radio show.
Apologizing for a racial rant directed as black hecklers in the audience of the Laugh Factory Comedy Club in Los Angeles as he preformed a stand-up routine, Richards said he is not a racist, that he was just “angry” and that he is currently taking anger management courses.
“I’m shattered,” Richards told Jackson. “I was brought up in a black neighborhood until I was 11 years old. My best friends were African-Americans.”
None of them apparently ever appeared on his former sitcom. Richards will next be seen on an expressway off-ramp near you wearing a black suit, bow-tie and selling bean pies.
However, despite the enormous flack Richards has received for the rant, little has been said about the color primarily motivating these proceedings. It’s not black, it’s not white – it’s green.
For all his seemingly remorseful repudiation of his own behavior that night, Richards seems motivated by little more than securing his own career prospects. As the adage goes, “there is no such thing as bad publicity,” and this racial rant has given Richards more exposure than his stand-up career ever did. Although it’s for the wrong reasons, he’s back on television at least.
Nevertheless, would he feel the need to apologize if his career prospects i.e. pocket, were not on the line? If someone had not captured the madness on a cell phone camera would he be so remorseful? He’s looking out for the bottom line and regrettably he’s not alone.
The “victims” of the rant, Frank McBride and Kyle Doss, have decided not to let bygones be bygones. Along with a formal apology from Richards the men also want financial compensation for their, er, emotional distress.
Never mind the fact that these guys have probably been subjected dozens of times to the N-word – a fixture on the black comedy circuit for decades -with few apparent side effects.
Fortunately, they’ve hired a lawyer, feminist attorney Gloria Allred, who fully supports their brand of racial enlightenment – If it helps her pockets. Wherever there is a public scandal, publicity-hound Allred is always there to sniff out the hidden bounty.
“It’s not enough to say, ‘I’m sorry,'” Allred told the Associated Press. “Our clients were vulnerable. He went after them. He singled them out and he taunted them, and he did it in a closed room where they were captive.”
Captive? Suddenly, I’m expecting McBride and Doss to appear in court with neck braces, dark sunglasses and being wheeled around by their nurses.
Rev. Jackson said Monday that he wants to call for film studios, comedy clubs and musicians to cease the use of the N word that Michael Richards repeated like he was Mark Fuhrman with tourettes.
“We want to give our ancestors a present,” Jackson stated. “Dignity over degradation.”
The irony is that for all the negative connotations that are to be derived from N-word, there are just as many people who need it to fill their pockets. Would Def Comedy Jam even exist without the word? Would modern day rappers have anything to say without the word? Too much money is to be made by keeping this word in the vernacular.
At the end of the day, the death of the word, along with racism itself, will probably come only after we all take responsibility for our own prejudices and question how we view each other and other races.