Comedian Dave Chappelle reportedly refused to back down after angry students confronted him when he made a surprise visit to his alma mater in Washington, D.C., this week.
Chappelle visited his alma mater, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, on Tuesday, where he spoke to an auditorium of nearly 600 students and responded to backlash stemming from his most recent Netflix special, "The Closer."
According to Politico, students both cheered and booed Chappelle. At one point, an antagonistic student stepped up to a microphone and called Chappelle a "bigot" over his LGBT jokes. "I'm 16 and I think you're childish, you handled it like a child," the student reportedly said.
But for students hoping for an apology from Chappelle, the legendary comedian immediately disappointed — and refused to cave to pressure.
"My friend, with all due respect, I don't believe you could make one of the decisions I have to make on a given day," Chappelle reportedly told the student. Sources told Politico the response angered students even more.
Later, in response to another hostile student, Chappelle — as one of the most successful stand-up comedians — pointed out the obvious. "I'm better than every instrumentalist, artist, no matter what art you do in this school, right now, I'm better than all of you. I'm sure that will change. I'm sure you'll be household names soon," he said.
One particular exchange incited outrage from parents.
According to Politico, one student told Chappelle, "Your comedy kills." Chappelle fired back that, "n****** are killed every day."
The two students we spoke to declined to go on the record out of fear of retribution from the school. The father of one of the students, who also declined to speak publicly to protect the identity of his daughter, said, "As a parent, I have to say I have a real problem. … He was being dead serious and using the n-word on the record. What kind of judgment is the school showing to allow that?"
Students were reportedly angry because Chappelle did not take seriously their concerns that his comedy is offensive. One student claimed there was a "huge power imbalance" between Chappelle and students because Chappelle made students place their phones in special containers, thereby preventing recordings, before his appearance.
What did Chappelle respond?
Carla Sims, a spokesperson for Chappelle, responded to the tense meeting by saying, "They are complaining that he talked and said the n-word. If anything, Dave is putting the school on the map."
In fact, Chappelle has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the arts school, has brought mega celebrities to meet with students, and even extended that generosity again this week by donating Thanksgiving meals to students and staff.
"[Chappelle] said these kids deserve an F for forgiveness," Sims said. But, "Give them some space to grow. They are going to say things that are immature."
Democrat Andrew Yang spoke out on Friday to defend Chappelle amid criticism from blue checkmark liberals who chided Chappelle for his remarks to the students.
"I was endorsed by a number of celebrities. Dave Chappelle is the only one who came to Iowa and South Carolina to perform on my behalf — with proceeds going to the campaign — and even made phone calls and hung out with staff. He did it because he wants to help people. Great guy," Yang said.
"The press hit job on his visiting his high school is awful. Successful alum who fundraises for school returns, speaks to students and gives everyone a free meal for Thanksgiving. But of course in 2021 an obvious positive gesture is framed negatively in the media," he added.
The press hit job on his visiting his high school is awful. Successful alum who fundraises for school returns, speaks to students and gives everyone a free meal for Thanksgiving. But of course in 2021 an obvious positive gesture is framed negatively in the media.— Andrew Yang\ud83e\udde2\u2b06\ufe0f\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 (@Andrew Yang\ud83e\udde2\u2b06\ufe0f\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8) 1637937806