I respect Katt Williams’s gangster. Although his on-stage persona is crass and vulgar, his defense of what was deemed by some as an “anti-Mexican” rant was both eloquent and persuasive. I am a fan of Katt Williams’s no-nonsense approach to life and candid expression of thoughts and ideas – basically, I’m a Katt Williams fan, so I could be biased. But, I could not have been more impressed by his ability to silence a heckler with his wit, and address and diffuse this “race-card” situation with unapologetic class.
In an interview with CNN cutie, TJ Holmes, Williams defends comments he made while being heckled during a stage performance in Phoenix, Arizona. If anything, the 8-minute diss-session was more like a pro-American rant than an anti-Mexican one; and by the enthusiastic and cordial response he received from the predominantly Hispanic audience, it’s safe to say they agreed.
It seems that the main objective of Holmes’s interview was to understand why Williams issued an apology for his rant, but later stated that the apology did not echo his sentiments, and was in fact issued by his publicist, not himself. [Watch the interview with Holmes here]. His explanation of the conundrum was believeable, but I’m not totally convinced that he knew nothing of the apology first issued. I think he just changed his mind.
There are several reasons why Katt Williams’s performance could not possibly be viewed as racist; namely, that he didn’t use any racial slurs. Furthermore, he joked about only one stereotype (which was not particularly negative) pertaining to Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the U.S. (noting that many of them are “landscapers”), and lastly, he wasn’t doing anything but telling the truth. Why anyone would be offended by his comments is beyond me, but, what I’d really like to discuss is why Williams was so successful in diffusing this R-bomb when so many others have failed (i.e. Michael Richards, Mel Gibson, etc.).
#1 He’s not racist.
As Katt stated in his interview with Holmes, if his remarks had been deemed by the audience (which was predominantly Hispanic), as a whole, as racist or anti-Mexican, he would not have made it out alive. This is more than likely true, as several “vatos locos” were captured on camera, and they look like they don’t play.
***So, how can others learn from Katt Williams’s experience with being pegged a racist?***
#2 Be patriotic.
The fact that Katt was emphatically repping the United States by repeatedly shouting USA, singing the national anthem, and even going so far as to place a bronze eagle (a stage decoration) directly in front of his assailant, makes you forget about anything he said that could have been considered offensive. That heckler was asking for it.
#3 Apologize for the rant being viewed as racist, but not for what you actually said.
As most of you know, apologizing for offending someone isn’t really an apology at all. Williams made it perfectly clear that he cannot and will not apologize for the comments he made/makes on stage as it would, in so many words, destroy his integrity as a stand-up comedian. I wholeheartedly agree. Basically, he said what he meant, and he meant what he said, and simply apologized because his thoughts and words were taken out of context. This is an age-old tactic that apparently still works like a charm.
#4 Be yourself.
Who could stay mad at this guy? He’s so real. So little. So funny. I don’t know about you, but I forgive him (even though I’m in no position to do so).
#5 Be cool.
Katt, unlike when he’s on stage, never let us see him sweat in his interview with Holmes. He remained calm, and clearly answered each question with candor and charisma. Then, at the end of the interview he put on his hoodie and white-rimmed shades and politely signed off.
God Bless America and God Bless Katt Williams!
Did you think Katt Williams’s rant was racist or just plain hilarious?