If Kevin Hart Had been Actually Sorry, He’d Show It

Apparently, being Kevin Hart means by no means having to say you’re sorry.

Simply weeks after vehemently defending the controversial “Cowboys and Indians”-themed celebration he threw for his one-year-old son (on Thanksgiving Day, no much less), the comic is on the heart of one more controversy that he refused to apologize for.

This week, homophobic tweets from the early 2000s surfaced whereby Hart belittles LGBTQ folks by means of makes use of of phrases and phrases like “fag,” “no homo” or utilizing “homosexual” as a derogatory time period.

This homophobia was not reserved to his Twitter account. In his 2010 particular, “Significantly Humorous,” in speaking about elevating his son Hart mentioned, “One in all my greatest fears is my son rising up and being homosexual. That’s a concern. Remember, I’m not homophobic. . . . Be completely happy. Do what you wish to do. However me, as a heterosexual male, if I can stop my son from being homosexual, I’ll.”

The outrage over that is cheap. In a society the place LGBTQ youth are 120 p.c extra prone to be homeless, have greater charges of psychological sickness and danger of suicide, statements like Hart’s aren’t impartial within the current day―nor had been they prior to now―whatever the social acceptability of bigotry that was in a lot media within the 2000s (in case you want an instance, strive watching Convey it On. It’s a friggin’ homophobic mess).  

It’s no shock that that individuals started to dig up the homophobic tweets from Hart’s previous when he was invited to host the following Academy Awards ceremony by which a number of motion pictures, like “Boy Erased” and “The Favorite,” heart storylines about LGBTQ+-identifying folks. When Hart’s tweets got here to the eye of the Academy, they requested him to apologize.

And he refused.

Can Hart present that he’s realized that he harmed folks and make proper on the hurt that he induced? Apparently not.

“I handed on the apology,” Hart mentioned in a video posted to Instagram. “The rationale why I handed is as a result of I’ve addressed this a number of instances … I’m not going to proceed to return and faucet into the times of previous once I’ve moved, and I’m in a whole[ly] totally different stage in my life…I’m going to be me. I’m going to face my floor.”

“If you happen to don’t consider that individuals change, develop evolve as they grow old, I don’t know what to let you know,” Hart mentioned in one other Instagram video. “If you wish to maintain folks ready the place they all the time need to justify for his or her previous…I’m the improper man. I’m in a terrific place. An excellent mature place the place all I do is unfold positivity.”

What Hart (and lots of of his followers who agree together with his choice) appears to misconceive is that acknowledging that individuals had been damage by one thing that he mentioned doesn’t imply that he has modified the conduct or ideologies that induced the damage. His inner sense of coping with it and shifting on doesn’t undo the preliminary hurt he induced.

Hart later went to Twitter to formally announce that he was stepping down from his function as host, saying that he was sorry for being insensitive and that he’s “evolving.” But he nonetheless misses the purpose.

His critics and the Academy aren’t difficult whether or not he’s extra delicate or a distinct particular person than he was in 2011 (hopefully, he’s! Hopefully, all of us are). They’re difficult his professed evolution. Can he present that he’s realized that he harmed folks and make proper on the hurt that he induced?

Apparently not. 

Positive, he could have mentioned he was sorry and that he “sincerely apologized.” However apologies on this method are low cost. An individual says “I’m sorry,” and expects a get-out-of-jail-free card. Perpetrators of hurt let themselves off the hook by uttering two easy phrases and acknowledging that they induced ache with out taking up the duty to be taught, develop and alter.

A real apology, a real acknowledgment of hurt carried out from Hart would contain speaking concerning the implications of his phrases, not simply apologizing for who he was. Accountability and apologizing aren’t mutually unique, however in Hart’s case and lots of others, folks need their apologies to be the top of the story. They’ve “I’m sorry” absolve them of the duty to be accountable for his or her work.

However apologizing is sort of a math drawback. To get the credit score, you must present your work. 


Hart can’t anticipate folks to recover from his homophobia and its implications when he has clearly chosen to not absolutely have interaction with the precise critiques that persons are bringing to him.

In Hart’s case, the work may have regarded like discontinuing Significantly Humorous, deleting the previous tweets earlier than they had been discovered, donating cash to LGBTQ organizations, requesting an LGBTQ-identifying host (and even co-host) for the Academy Awards or many different issues.

As an alternative, he selected to concentrate on our societal sensitivity and lack of ability to just accept change, saying the world has “gone loopy” for anticipating him to apologize. That’s how we all know that he has missed the evolution that he claims to have undergone. 

The tradition of concern by which we at present dwell and breathe isn’t born from nothing. Individuals from marginalized communities have by no means been completely happy about their marginalization. It’s solely on account of current actions like Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, #NoDAPL and extra that we’ve began to have conversations concerning the many grievances marginalized folks on this nation face. And as such, we’re holding folks in energy accountable for oppressive behaviors that had been as soon as the norm.

This isn’t a liberal agenda, it’s holding folks accountable to the extent of progress that society has made, even when they haven’t chosen to maintain up.  

However this constant effort to carry folks accountable is commonly be seen as not giving folks an opportunity to alter and develop when they’re consistently dropped at reply for his or her previous. Nonetheless, it is a misdirection. Usually the place cultural outrage pulls folks’s previous sins into the foreground, it offers a possibility to do greater than merely say “I’m sorry.” It’s a possibility to do the work, to get particular in acknowledging not solely that individuals had been harmed, however that the particular person doing hurt understands why they felt that method and why that hurt isn’t simply healed.  

Within the midst of problematic ideologies, we should push for a tradition of accountability and alter, not simply meaningless apologies.

Some persons are celebrating Hart stepping down, however I believe that additionally misses the purpose. His stepping down permits him to proceed to keep away from taking extra duty and apologizing not simply together with his phrases. Let’s be trustworthy, tweeting “I apologize” isn’t that onerous and doesn’t actually contain a lot inner reckoning, however together with his actions, he can present a modified life.

The expectation of forgiveness or shifting on on this context cheapens forgiveness by cheapening trauma. Hart can’t anticipate folks to recover from his homophobia and its implications when he has clearly chosen to not absolutely have interaction with the precise critiques that persons are bringing to him. Hart feels entitled to forgiveness however doesn’t appear to be liable for what he has put into the world.

Hart could not the be the 2009-2011 homophobe he was earlier than, however that could be a low bar. He used his medium of comedy to earn a living off of normalizing parental homophobia towards their youngsters. He made cash by indoctrinating his son into his personal homophobia by means of concern and advising others doing the identical.

Hart himself claims that he developed however he has missed a possibility to truly show it, to step again, to assume deeply, to have himself be modified by his critics and never simply chased away by them. His defensiveness and disengagement aren’t distinctive and are markers of many people who don’t know easy methods to cope with our pasts.

Like Hart, all of us have many alternatives in life to not merely attempt to scoot previous the hurt we’re liable for inflicting, however to be accountable, to take duty, to show that we perceive why the harmed particular person is upset, to attempt to make issues proper after which, in any case of that work is over, to apologize.

As a result of an apology with out change is just hiding our problematic selves below the guise of emotional sensitivity. We are able to do higher and construct interior lives that may not solely deal with critique, however we are able to use these experiences as a motivator to look at ourselves carefully and alter within the locations the place we’ve got induced hurt.  

In the previous few years, it has grow to be clear that celebrities, males, white folks, straight folks―actually all folks―are ideologically and customarily problematic. Within the midst of problematic ideologies, we should push for a tradition of accountability and alter, not simply meaningless apologies.

Brandi Miller is a campus minister and justice program director from the Pacific Northwest.