Sunday, July 21, 2013

J. Cole's Sincere Apology to Autism Community

My dad always used to tell me that a real man admits his mistakes, and then does something to rectify them.

J. Cole has done exactly that.

As many of you have probably read, I wrote a piece for Huffington Post about some insensitive lyrics in the song “Jodeci Freestyle” by Drake ft. Dennis Graham and J. Cole. It was a tough post to write because I have a lot of respect for letting artists be creative and I abhor censorship. So my call was not so much for the lyrics to be changed, or even a call for an apology. I just wanted these artists to know that in a community that needs help in lowering the age of diagnosis and access to early intervention therapy, they could use their voices and clout to educate instead of denigrate.

Recently there’s been a trend that includes rappers saying something
offensive, only to be attacked for it in the media and pressured to
apologize. I have to be completely honest and say there’s a part of me
that resents that. I view rap similar to how I view comedy. It’s going
to ruffle feathers at times. It’s going to go “too far”. I do not
believe that an apology is needed every time someone is offended,
especially when that apology is really only for the sake of saving an
endorsement or cleaning up bad press.
With that said, this is not the case today. This letter is sincere.
This apology IS necessary.
In a recent verse on the song “Jodeci Freestyle”, I said something
highly offensive to people with Autism. Last week, when I first saw a
comment from someone outraged about the lyric, I realized right away
that what I said was wrong. I was instantly embarrassed that I would
be ignorant enough say something so hurtful. What makes the crime
worse is that I should have known better.
To the entire Autism community who expressed outrage, I’m moved and
inspired by your passion, and I’m amazed at how strong you are as a
unit. I have now read stories online from parents about their
struggles and triumphs with raising an Autistic child and I admire how
incredibly strong you have to be to do so. It’s touching. It also
makes what I said even more embarrassing for me. I feel real shame.
You have every right to be angry.
To anyone suffering from Autism, either mildly or severely, I am
sorry. I’m bound to make mistakes in my life, but in my heart I just
want to spread Love.
I want to educate myself more on Autism, and I’ll gladly own my
mistake and serve as an example to today’s generation that there’s
nothing cool about mean-spirited comments about someone with Autism.
People with this disorder and their loved ones have to go through so
much already, the last thing they need is to hear something as
ignorant as what I said. I understand.
To the parents who are fighting through the frustrations that must
come with raising a child with severe autism, finding strength and
patience that they never knew they had; to the college student with
Asperger’s Syndrome; to all those overcoming Autism. You deserve
medals, not disrespect. I hope you accept my sincere apology.
Much Love

J. Cole did not have to do that. He could have ignored the Tweets and negative comments and they would have lost steam. Instead he owned it and in doing so has gained a lot of respect from me and hopefully a lot of you out there as well.

I am sure there will be skeptics, but I am a glass is half-full kinda guy. I have also made my fair share of mistakes. I was painfully ignorant to sensitivities such as these before I was personally affected, and unfortunately I do not think that is out of the norm. So please take this apology at face value. In order for there to be progress, there has to be enlightenment followed by forgiveness.

I would like to encourage you to let J. Cole know how much you appreciate taking the time to address this issue, and more importantly for the sincere apology and time he clearly spent on the matter.

You can reach J. Cole via Twitter: @JColeNC
You can message him on his Facebook Page
You can comment on his blog post as well.

Thank you... and thank you J. Cole. That was a stand-up and classy move.

Update (07/23/2013):

Drake has also issued a statement on his blog saying:

"J.Cole wrote a beautiful and moving apology to individuals and families affected by autism who were understandably hurt by a verse in "Jodeci Freestyle". I share responsibility and offer my sincerest apologies for the pain this has caused. Individuals with autism have brilliant and creative minds, and their gifts should not be disparaged or discounted. This was a learning lesson for both of us, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to try to right this wrong. J. Cole and I believe that it is the right, responsible, and respectful decision to remove the lyric from the song."

I think this shows incredible character and respect and I thank Drake and J. Cole bother for the thought and attention they have given this issue. Please be sure to thank Drake as well.

You can reach Drake via Twitter: @Drake
You can leave a post on his Facebook Page
You can also comment on his blog post.

If you have not already, please take time to watch my videos, "Fixing" Autism and Autism Awareness with Nichole337 and share them with your friends.

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1 comment:

  1. I love this. I also 100% agree with you on music/art in general and censorship. I felt exactly as you did, they could be using their influence for good instead of negativity! Thank you for posting this!!!