Advice to a black son, death of hero father: D.L. Hughley

Donna Crane
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Second of three parts
Comedian and author D.L. Hughley has made the rounds to promote his new book “How Not To Get Shot and other advice from white people.” In part one he writes he finds nothing funny about racism. Here is part of his interview from his appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Show.

“We seem to be on the wrong side of history every 15 years. You ever notice that? I think it’s a simple equation. The very accountability that they laud and say we should have in our communities? We should hold our apparatuses to it.

“Here’s the thing that’s interesting and plays out all the time. If I commit a crime and it’s caught on video, all that the D.A. will do, or prosecutor will do, is play that video, turn to the jury, and go, ‘right here.’

“If the same exact thing happens when somebody has a uniform on and they’re in a position of authority, they’ll go, ‘We don’t know what happened before this. We don’t know [the officer’s] frame of mind. We don’t know the state he was in.’

“So I think accountability is a great word if it works both ways. [White people] have to hold people accountable. They’re going to sit on juries. They’re going to be on social media. They’re going to be a part of a community. So it’s just not enough to want to do better.”

On the advice he gave to his adult son, who has Asperger’s, about interacting with police:

“I was very careful — one, because one of the things you’ve got to do with somebody who has Asperger’s is repeat things, over and over again.

“It was part that. But part of it — I said, ‘I know you don’t understand everything they’re saying to you. So what I know to be true — I’ve never seen anything good about a black man talking to the police too much. So at a certain point, you answer the questions you can, and then say, “I don’t want to be disrespectful. I’m not going to be speak anymore. Call my parents and they’ll bring a lawyer down here.”’

On witnessing the death of his father from lung cancer several weeks ago, and wishing he hadn’t:

“I lost my old man last Saturday. And everybody was telling me, ‘You gotta be there.’ My wife, my sisters: ‘You gotta be there, he’ll know you’re there, he wants you there.’

“So I got home from a gig — from the road — on Saturday and my old lady calls, and she goes, ‘Your sister just called. Your father’s death is imminent. You need to go.’

“So I go.

“I see this man, who’s my hero, fighting for breath. And that cough. And I remember at one point I said, ‘Hey old man, I’m here, open your eyes, open your eyes.’ And I was angry with him, because he was such a formidable, I just didn’t believe that he couldn’t summon the will up [to open his eyes].

“Here was a wonderful human being who died of a horrible disease, who would be angry if he knew I saw it.

“So my mother says, ‘He’s going.’ We all rush in, and I’m holding his hand. And he takes this deep breath and never lets it out and his pulse just flutters and stops.

“My wife and sisters went: ‘This is beautiful.’

“And I went: ‘This is the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen in my life, and I wish I’d listened to me instead of them.’

“I have nightmares about it. I know it’s just been a week-and-a-half, but I have nightmares about it. And I talked to a really great comic over the weekend, and he said that he’d gone through the same thing, and he still has those nightmares. And I’m like, that wasn’t worth it to me. It wasn’t.’

“On being open about infidelity with his wife of 32 years

“I never felt guilty about having other women. I just didn’t. There was an old line in a movie called Carlito’s Way: ‘I didn’t rehabilitate, I just ran out of wind.’”
Continued next week

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