The 580-strong student body of Duke Ellington School of the Arts showed up Tuesday to hear alumnus Dave Chappelle speak. The crowd of Washington, D.C. high school students may have been expecting an apology for the comedian’s Netflix show “The Closer,” but what they received was far different.
Chappelle graduated from the school in 1991, according to Fox News.
In “The Closer,” Chappelle jokes about discrimination against African Americans and contrasts it with discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. The comedy special was panned by LGBTQ+ groups, who subsequently demanded Netflix remove the piece from its service. Some Netflix employees protested against Chappelle’s jokes about transgender people.
Politico reported they spoke with people who attended Chappelle’s talk with students at his alma mater.
“I’m 16 and I think you’re childish,” one student reportedly chided the comedian. The same student allegedly called Chappelle a “bigot.” Politico reported Chappelle spokeswoman Carla Simms confirmed those comments.
“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 responded, according to Politico’s version of students recounting the event.
Fox News said the school initially re-scheduled the comedian’s appearance until April 22, 2022, because students threatened to walk out in protest. No explanation was provided why the school decided to hold the discussion on the regularly scheduled date.
“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,” Chapelle responded to another antagonistic student. “I’m sure that will change. I’m sure you’ll be household names soon.”
According to Politico, one student yelled out, “Your comedy kills,” and Chappelle reportedly retorted, “[Black people] are killed every day.”
“The media’s not here, right?” Chappelle then asked.
The two students Politico spoke to reportedly feared school retribution and requested anonymity.
“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,” said the father of one of those students, who declined to speak on the record to protect his daughter’s identity. “What kind of judgment is the school showing to allow that?”
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