Over the weekend it was reported that actor and comedian Kevin Hart had been injured in a crash involving a vintage muscle car in the hills above Malibu, Calif. The report went on to say that Hart and the driver, 28-year-old Jared Black, both suffered “major back injuries” and were taken to hospitals while a third passenger, 31-year-old Rebecca Broxterman, only complained of aches and pain.
I was actually staying at a vacation rental in Malibu, not far from the crash when the news broke, which made the announcement that much more chilling due to its eerie proximity.
“We could have lost Kevin Hart this weekend,” my friend said in a sobering tone that made us both sit in silence for a second.
While I don’t agree with any of Hart’s handing of the Oscars scandal that broke out due to his homophobic tweets, and very visibly give the side-eye to anyone who still doesn’t understand what he did wrong, I would never wish death on anyone. Especially not a father with a family to look after.
So for the entirety of Labor Day I felt waves of sympathy for this man that I hadn’t felt for him in eons, and sent a prayer out to his family during what must be a devastating time.
But then that video clip of Hart and chart topping rapper Lil Nas X on The Shop: Uninterrupted dropped and suddenly that initial spark of sympathy was replaced with a thunder clap of annoyance and even a bit of rage.
Lil Nas X is smarter than ya’ll think
For those who haven’t heard about what happened, in the HBO clip, marketing executive Paul Rivera asks the 20-year-old about his decision to come out as gay in the midst of his history making success.
“And with all that early success, you felt it was important to make an announcement recently?” Rivera inquires. But before the rapper can even open his mouth, Hart, who is also in attendance blurts out, “He said he was gay! So what?”
Hart’s blatant and incredibly transparent attempt to dismiss the topic simply because it makes him uncomfortable was caught by everyone. But in a show of maturity that far exceeds his age, Lil Nas expains he wasn’t “forced” to come out and made the decision to be forthcoming about his sexuality because “growing up [he had been taught] to hate that s**t.”
“Hate what?” Hart interrupted again. “Hate what?”
“Homosexuality, gay people,” Lil Nas explained.
“Why?” asked Hart.
“Come on, now,” Lil Nas responded.
Now, I like to consider myself a pretty reasonable person, but this is the exact part where I would have said, “Kevin didn’t you lose the gig of your dreams because of what you threatened to do to your own son if you found out he was gay? So how are you of all people, on this white cable network playing boo-boo the fool about the very same disdain that you yourself showed you had towards boys like me?”
Then I would have left the set and called my agent to tell him to never book me to take part of any foolishness like that again.
But alas, Lil Nas X, had the composure of a saint, and instead of calling out the painfully bright pink elephant in the room, when Hart pushed and inquired, “Why are you growing up to hate it,” the rapper patiently responded, “If you’re really from the hood, you know.”
Hart grew up in Philadelphia, so we all know, he knows exactly what this young man is talking about.
Lil Nas X then went on to say he came out during a career high to show that he wasn’t doing it for publicity or personal gain, and was instead showing his sexuality was something he planned to own even during a time when he financially had the incentive to remain silent.
Confronting the oppressor within
Not surprisingly, after the episode’s content was revealed, the same Twitter that had been sending Hart condolences just the day before went berserk. While I am always speaking out about how we have to be mindful not to abuse cancel culture, this is one case where I can fully understand why so many had a bad visceral reaction to what they witnessed.
For the contrarians amongst us who love to roll their eyes whenever anyone on the planet is asked to be accountable for their actions, Hart’s actions were probably shrugged off as no big deal. But the truth is, his messy and heavy handed attempts to shut up (and shut down) a young Black man speaking up for a group he’d already disrespected, proves what I’d feared all along — he learned absolutely nothing from that Oscars fiasco.
The truth is, the same way many straight white men are annoyed that their subordinates (i.e., the rest of us) are threatening their supremacy and dominance by actually having the nerve to demand equitable treatment, a lot of straight Black men are also upset, for the very same reasons.
Which is a fascinating and also devastating reminder that for a lot of people in our own communities, only certain Black lives matter. Not the gay ones, the womanist ones, and definitely not the strippers who rap (according to Jermaine Dupri).
Apparently, the Black liberation we are all being asked to fight for is only meant to actually protect straight Black men who subscribe to toxic masculinity (and those who seek to keep their egos in tact). The rest of us are clearly meant to stay on the sidelines propping them up. A part of me really wishes folks who thought this way had the courage to admit it and not waste our time.
At least then I’d be able to respect their chutzpah, if nothing else.
But it is deeply hypocritical to point out how racists always complain about political correctness because it won’t let them make racist comments without being called out, but then in the very next breath, be annoyed you can’t say homophobic or misogynistic comments yourself.
That’s not how this works fam.
Freedom of speech does not mean a freedom from consequences. Yes, you can say whatever you want, but you also better damn sure be ready to eat whatever comes your way as a result.
Being reminded this week that Hart is as resentful of the gay community for calling him out as Mike Pence is, was troubling on its own. But that fact that he tried to gaslight Lil Nas X — who I personally consider a national treasure — in the process, is downright infuriating.
There are Hollywood veterans who have been in the game for decades who still haven’t had the courage to do what this young man did. But thanks to movies like Moonlight, and artists like Jidenna who are speaking out against how men are socialized, we’re breeding a new generation of boys who finally feel comfortable sharing their feelings and vulnerabilities, while still knowing it makes them no less of a man than anyone else.
Kevin Hart acting like he doesn’t know why Lil Nas X would be scared to come out is like someone who stole the thing you lost helping you look for it. https://t.co/ZmfRNMktel
— Phillip Henry (@MajorPhilebrity) September 4, 2019
This shift in perception is one of the beautiful bright points in what has in many ways been a hot mess of a chapter in our nation’s history. As such, that growth must be protected at all costs. Even from the grips of those who look just like us, and pretend to not understand why it’s such a big deal.
To be fair, a car accident is a life altering tragedy that often shifts the way people think about things. So a small part of me is hoping that during his healing process, Kevin Hart lets himself reconsider his views and comes back decidedly less salty at his LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic here, but a girl can dream eh?
Follow writer Blue Telusma on Instagram at @bluecentric