Commentary: Wayne Brady Is Right to Be Angry

Though he probably shouldn’t go beating anyone up, the actor and comedian should be fired up about others questioning his Blackness.

Posted: 05/15/2013 05:46 PM EDT
Commentary: Wayne Brady Is Right to Be Angry

HBO political show host and comedian Bill Maher has made the joke that President Barack Obama comes close to a “Wayne Brady” kind of character. That is to say, like comedian and performer Brady himself, the president is a Black man who is not authentically Black — an Oreo, as some might put it.

Brady, who is so known for being good-natured that Dave Chappelle once made an entire sketch around the idea that Brady is actually mean, apparently has limits to his niceness. He’s now making it known in no uncertain terms that one of those limits is Maher’s teasing.

In a recent interview on HuffPost Live with host Marc Lamont Hill, Brady, kind as ever, said of Maher, “I’ve respected him as a comedian, and what he does on HBO is great.” The niceties ended there, though, which is when Brady added, “[W]hen he starts to drag me in, to use me as the cultural linchpin of his not-black-enough argument, that’s bulls--t.”

Brady went on to say Maher thinks he has the right to question Brady’s Black experience due to the fact that he frequently dates African-American women. He also said that he’d be willing to give Maher “that Black dude” that Maher believes all Black men to be and “beat [Maher’s] a-- in public.”

Last year, Brady said on a comedy podcast that he would “gladly slap the s--t out of Bill Maher in front of Coco and Ebony and Fox, the three ladies of the night he has hired,” suggesting that Maher sometimes sleeps with Black prostitutes.

Brady’s threats of violence are certainly a bit overboard, as are the seemingly unfounded low blows about Maher spending time with prostitutes. But Brady’s anger and frustration come from a very reasonable place: Neither Bill Maher nor anyone in the world has the right to question Wayne Brady’s authenticity as a Black man simply because Brady doesn’t fit a particular mold of what they think a Black man should be.

When Bill Maher says that Wayne Brady isn’t a “real” Black man because he seems friendly, sings and dances, what he’s tacitly saying is that Black men aren’t friendly, that they’re gruff and rude and angry. What is a real Black man to Maher? Someone in jail for dealing drugs?

Brady is just as much a part of the Black fabric of America as anyone, and to try and belittle him as anything less is wrong, particularly when you’re someone who, like Maher, styles themselves as a progressive thinker.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

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