Valley Civil Rights Leader, the Rev. Jarrett Maupin calls on Celebrity Theater management and ownership to ban any future Katt Williams performances.
Citing the “comedian’s” recent racially insensitive tirade against latinos and complaints from black and brown patrons about the content of the August 20th show, Maupin has written a letter demanding that Katt Williams be banned from Celebrity’s stage.
The Reverend has also approached sponsors, vendors, and advertisers with the theater, including a national hotel chain, to withdraw contract/ad dollars if the theater does not comply.
“Katt Williams’ performance only helps to perpetuate the myth of racial divides and intolerance between the Black and Brown community,” Maupin said.
He continued, “His strange sense of patriotism and need to defend and support the racist views of groups like the Tea Party and other ‘nativist’ movements make him out to be the ultimate house negro and butt of many jokes. No self-respecting black professional, comedian or not, would attack and malign another minority group the way his own people have been attacked and maligned…”
LETTER TO CELEBRITY THEATER LEADERSHIP BELOW
440 N. 32nd Street
Phoenix, AZ 85008
I am writing to you out of concern about a recent performance at your facility. The history of Celebrity Theater, with its many contributions to local cultural and artistic expression is one of diversity, respect, and community. Unfortunately, the August 20th 2011 “performance” of comedian Katt Williams challenges this history.
Freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental part of what helps our society to function fairly. With those freedoms come great responsibilities. Celebrity Theater owes it to the urban community of Phoenix, black and brown residents in particular, to protect them from becoming victimized by perpetrators of hate-speech. Celebrity Theater owes black and brown residents this courtesy because we are your business partners. No other group of people purchases more tickets to shows, consumes more vendor products, and patronizes your establishment as frequently as our community does. Additionally, the Celebrity Theater physically exists in a neighborhood that, according to U.S. Census data, is 78% Latino.
I urge you to consider the impact of Mr. Williams’ latest performance. In a now infamous and viral video clip, attributed on several news sources to the promotion company UrbanAZ, Mr. Williams is seen in your facility (and in the name of “comedy”) negatively engaging a Latino patron and proceeding to “perform” what has best been described as a tirade of vitriolic, culturally insensitive, racist, xenophobic, “nativist”, and flat-out ignorant racist banter.
Ms. Klein, I know comedy touches on race, politics, and our society in general. I know comedy is bold and pushes the limits of humor, often in strong critique and mockery of human behavior. But what I and others have recently viewed is a far cry from the artistry demonstrated by the legacy and professional standards of the Richard Pryors, LaWanda Pages, Cedric The Entertainers, Bernie Macs, George Lopezes, Lisa Lampanellis, and Margaret Chos of the world who have/had successfully integrated race (without hate) into their comedy routines. The opinions of those who have formally complained to me about Mr. Williams’ ranting are not confined to our community. In fact the concern has grown to include the corporate leadership of a number of your sponsors and vendor partners including a national hotel chain and regional beverage/alcohol distribution company. They share my concerns, the concerns of the community. A call for corrective action weighs heavily on them, particularly in these challenging economic times when NO business can afford to alienate any ethnic-consumer base.
As general manager of the theater, I urge you to exercise your authority to no longer provide your venue as a platform for any future “performances” by Mr. Williams. I also recommend a meeting between the ownership of the Celebrity Theater, promoters, and the community to discuss how we might work together to support people of color (documented or undocumented; red, yellow, black, brown, and white) and bring in the kind of talent that affirms the dignity and worth of all human beings, so we might continue to laugh at our differences and short comings without the pain of venomous of hate-speech. As a respected venue with strong commitments to the community, I trust you will respond swiftly and appropriately.
Rev. Jarrett B. Maupin, II – President
Inner-City Democracy Empowerment Agency (IDEA)