Dave Chappelle Gets Taken to School by Students at His Alma Mater: "I Think You're Childish"
Chappelle at one point told the crowd, "no matter what art you do in this school, right now, I'm better than all of you"
Published Nov 26, 2021After popping up at Drake's Toronto mansion last week, Dave Chappelle reportedly faced an even tougher crowd this past Tuesday in his native Washington, D.C.: the student body of his old high school, Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
Politico reports that Chapelle paid his alma mater a visit days ahead of American Thanksgiving for a Q&A session with staff and students, where he also provided "600 Thanksgiving meals for students and staff" and tickets to a screening of his new documentary Untitled, which was screened in Toronto earlier this month.
The site reports that "some 580 students" were present for the hour-long Q&A session, in which Chappelle discussed the backlash to his Netflix special The Closer, in which he proudly calls himself a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) and defends known transphobe/Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.
Chappelle reportedly took the stage "with a camera crew in tow" to a "raucous reception of cheers and some boos," requesting students "lock their phones in special pouches beforehand to prevent recordings." As the site outlines, the event went off the rails from there:
During a Q&A session, one student stepped to the mic and called Chappelle a "bigot," adding, "I'm 16 and I think you're childish, you handled it like a child," according to two students present. The comments were confirmed by Chappelle's spokesperson Carla Sims.
...Chappelle responded, as recalled the next day by the students, "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." That peeved some students who were hoping for an apology or some semblance of one from Chappelle.
In response to another antagonistic question, Chappelle roughly told the student body of artists: "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."
The students recalled that another student in the audience shouted at him, "Your comedy kills," and Chappelle shot back, "N------ are killed every day." He then asked, "The media's not here, right?"
Politico quotes "one disturbed parent," who declined to speak publicly, sharing, "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?" Spokesperson Sims told the site, "They are complaining that he talked and said the n-word. If anything, Dave is putting the school on the map."
Two students who spoke to Politico said they were afraid to speak at the event "because Chappelle often laughed at students' questions or responded with jokes." One of the students shared, "He could tell we were nervous. It was a huge power imbalance of this grown man and his camera crew — and these 14- to 18 year-olds without their phones, just high school kids."
Chappelle reportedly singled out a student that left the assembly by saying, "Of course she left early." Sims told Politico that person "couldn't even entertain the idea of a conversation."
"During the conversation with students and staff, Chappelle specifically invited the voices of discontent to ask questions, however as a result, the supporters of Chappelle became the silent majority," said Duke Ellington spokesperson Savannah Overton told Politico. "Our principal was approached by several students after the assembly who were disappointed that they were not able to voice their support for Chappelle in this forum."
The students also shared with Politico that Chappelle spoke out against death threats made against students that have protesting him. "His whole tone changed," one of the students said. "He said, 'This is my family and whether they know it or not I love these kids… I don't want to hear about any threats to these kids. These kids don't deserve that.'"
"He was really kind," the student added. "If [only] he [had] acted that way the whole time… There was no reason to be mean to us. He was just laughing at kids."