Nick Cannon was paid millions to host America’s Got Talent (AGT) for NBC. He recently quit because he says ‘No amount of money [is] worth [his] dignity or integrity.’ The resignation followed speculation that NBC considered dismissing him after they received complaints about his humour and for bringing NBC into disrepute. Many black Americans are applauding Nick Cannon’s action seeing it as revolutionary and standing up to white racism. However, I am struggling to see the heroics or racism because he would have to explain his racially deprecating comments and behaviour.
Bringing A Company Into Disrepute
Cannon’s contract with NBC, prevented him talking about NBC without permission or bringing them into disrepute. They are not unusual or onerous terms. Nonetheless, during a recent stand-up show, Cannon said ‘…that’s what NBC gonna stand for tonight. N-word Better Come On, ‘cuz N-word be cussin. So N-word be careful’. He also said that hosting AGT took away his ‘real N-word card. Because then, like, these type of people started showing up to my shows.’ He is also reported to have said he could not speak freely on NBC at the risk of ‘losing white money’.
NBC did not air the show but received complaints about the humour. They also felt that his comments about them were racially disparaging. NBC has been the butt of jokes by their artists e.g. Letterman, Jay Leno and Johny Carson but those jokes were not racially disparaging. So, NBC had a contractual and moral obligation to raise the matters with Cannon who says it was a joke. If NAS had a white artist that said ‘NAS gonna stand for N-word Are Silly, quite rightfully black people would be up in arms.
Correspondingly, if a white celebrity uses the N-word or is disparaging about blacks, they too should be reprimanded. Thus, Paula Deen’s career ended when she used the N-word and expressed a desire to have a wedding with black waiters in the role of pre-Civil War-era ‘slaves.’ So too when MSNBC’s Don Imus referred to a predominately black female basketball team as ‘nappy-headed hos.’
Nick Cannon Black Revolutionary or Black Reactionary?
Cannon says ‘There will always be a “do as I say” mentality that mirrors society’s perception of women and minorities…only a few stand up against it.’ He then describes himself as ‘A voice for my community’. However, outside of AGT Cannon’s humour is N-word centred which is offensive.
As a black woman I find the N-word odious and every time the N-word is said; it dilutes its evil. Its use is disrespectful to its victims and the history of black people. That alone weakens the user’s moral position. The N-word also encourages stereotypes and racism. I have never accepted the argument that its use is taking it back. It was never an African word but a pejorative created by white supremacists to diminish the humanity and dignity of black people.
Cannon’s humour is also overtly sexual often at the expense of women including Mariah Carey, his then wife. So he too ‘mirrors society’s perception of women and minorities’ and I cannot see the integrity or dignity he speaks of in that.
Nick Cannon & White Male Supremacy
What is glaringly obvious is that white companies have the power to stop racism and sexism in society but choose not to. It’s okay for black entertainers to denigrate black people as long as it stops there! Lupe Fiasco used lyrics that were considered anti-Semitic. The furore that followed led Fiasco to quit music. On the other hand, Young Thug abused two black air stewardesses calling them “bum ass hoes”, “ants” and “peasants”. He described their hair as ‘nappy as a mother***’ and said that they looked like ‘Africans’ that had ‘been deported’. Young Thug was kind enough to tweet to clarify that his comments just referred to those “two black, burnt” ones. He still has a recording contract.
Nick Cannon’s resignation was not a blow against white male supremacy. He has spent a lifetime supporting it, with his racial epithets and negative stereotypes of black people and women. Cannon is a promoter of self-defeating speech more than the defender of free-speech he has appointed himself. Canon says he is ‘A real N-word.’ That word is synonymous with being subjugated by white power. I won’t argue that with him.
I cannot find NBC to be racist on this occasion, and if they are taking complaints about racism seriously, I applaud them. As for Nick Cannon, I do not find any dignity or integrity in his humour or resignation. At this extraordinarily difficult juncture in political history, the last kind of jokes needed are those which further denigrate blacks and women.
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