Here’s a photo of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson with their son, Chester, at a 2011 film premiere. Nowadays, Chester calls himself “Chet Haze” and believes that he’s a frat-boy rapper. You can hear one of Chet’s songs here, but you might laugh. A lot.
We usually ignore Chet’s antics (there was a weird fight with Howard Stern not too long ago). But Chet has gotten into some trouble for dropping the n-word on his Instagram page. (Unfortunately, he deleted his account as I was typing this story, so there will be minimal photos to illustrate.) Chet’s pretty upset that people are calling him out for using the word, which he believes is “a beautiful thing.” Here’s his defense:
“If I say the word n**** I say it amongst people I love and who love me. If I say “f*** yall hatin a** n*****” it’s because that’s really how I felt at the time. And I don’t accept society getting to decide what ANYBODY can or can’t say. That’s something we call FREE SPEECH. Now I understand the older generation who grew up in the Jim Crowe era might have strong feelings against this. And that’s understandable.
“But what I’m saying is this is 2015 … We have reached a point where the word can no longer have a negative connotation if we so choose. And who is to say only black people can use it? The way I see it, it’s a word that unifies the culture of HIP-HOP across ALL RACES, which is actually kind of a beautiful thing. It’s a word that can be used out of camaraderie and love, not just exclusively for black people. What’s the point in putting all these built up ‘rules’ about it. It’s time to let go. You can hate me or love me for it, but can’t nobody tell me what I can or can’t say. It’s got nothing to do with trying to be a thug. It’s about the culture of the music … Some people will get it, some people won’t. Either way, Ima keep living my life however the f*** I want. ALL LOVE.
“Look, I know the majority of y’all are not gonna get this because the history is still so fresh in our country. But hip hop isn’t about race. It’s about the culture you identify with. And can’t no one tell me what I can’t say.”
[From Chet Haze on Instagram (dead link)]
Ahem. Well, I’m pretty sure Chet has no idea what he’s talking about. He grew up wealthy and privileged beyond belief. Yet Chet feels like he identifies enough with rap culture that he should be able to drop the n-word without being called out. He thinks everyone should “let go” of the n-word’s connotations because he really wants to say it. He’s so bothered by these “built-up rules” about the n-word. Won’t you let Chet Haze be great?
I didn’t even want to draw attention to Chet Haze, but he’s pulling an Iggy Azalea. Since she got called out big time for her appropriation, Chet also shouldn’t get away with claiming a deep devotion to hip-hop culture without some understanding. He’s acting dismissive like Iggy and needs to take a few lessons from Q-Tip the Abstract. Chet should also realize that his free speech claim runs both ways. People are free to criticize Chet for the stupid stuff that comes out of his mouth.
Photos courtesy of Chet Haze on Instagram & Getty