Mom, actress and autism activist Holly Robinson Peete continues to amaze us.
When mom-of-four first came across the lyrics to Drake and J. Cole’s new song, Jodeci Freestyle, after her 15-year-old son R.J. revealed them to her, she was shocked and outraged. R.J. has autism and asked his mother to explain a specific, highly offensive line performed by rapper J. Cole.
The line that has Holly and many others complaining about, is: ”I’m artistic, you n****s is autistic, retarded.”
The actress appeared on Access Hollywood – saying that her son is a fan of both Drake and J. Cole – and she “had to read [the line] like five times” because she was so devastated and hoped for an explanation.
Coming close to tears, Holly eloquently said,
“I just don’t know that these artists understand … the power that they have,” Holly said. “Because my son is struggling to fit in. And I mean struggling. So when I see an artist with this kind of following, who is writing not just ‘autistic,’ but trying to make it the new R-word, it’s not going to happen on our watch.”
She added: “Because we struggle every day. And I couldn’t even write about it or talk about it for a long time… Does he know that one in 50 school-aged children are suffering with autism? This is not something that is some random little niche issue. This is a big issue.”
Holly then called on J. Cole to apologize and remove the lyric from his song. Shortly after, the rapper issued an apology on his blog, explaining that while he didn’t always think rappers should apologize for lyrics others found offensive, he was “embarrassed” and “should have known better.”
Following is his lengthy apology:
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.
I, for one, and glad he issued such a lengthy – and seemingly heartfelt – apology. It seems like he has learned from this experience and is planning to move on from his ignorance.
Prior to motherhood and blogging, I was a social worker within the field of disability. I learned not only about the struggles facing children with disabilities, but the many roadblocks they come across in society.
From the stares, to the exclusion, to the isolation, to the financial struggles, to the learned helplessness — it can be a lonely existence.
I hate to be the PC Police, but I am also hoping people will stop using the R-word. Some of my friends still use it, and I respectfully beg them to stop!
Here’s hoping many can learn from this high-profile situation.
What do you think of the apology? Do you feel it was sincere?