Alright, so the only guy who still uses the word “homeboy” or any of its variants in normal conversation—ironically or not—is that ex-college roommate of yours who dropped out after his seventh year of undergrad, who works at the local Krystal while stoned, and still has a proud collection of No Limit CDs. Fine. Still, I say “Welcome back, homie!” to comic genius Paul Beatty, because the last time I saw his name in print was in 2000, when people thought saying “Whaaaaasssssupp!” was, um, the bomb. (And how did that ever catch on?)
Admittedly, the new book isn’t his, exactly, but instead a collection of African American humor writing that he edited. Still, it features a substantial, hilarious introduction by Beatty that was excerpted in this week’s New York Times Book Review. I would link to it, but it’s only available to TimesSelect subscribers. Screw ‘em, anyway—Powells has a new interview with the man. A taste:
Dave: Yesterday on Slate, Armond White reviewed a new biography of Stepin Fetchit. The review asks, “Should African-American performers be accountable to political correctness? To what degree should they worry that their antics shape the self-image of young African-Americans?” How would you respond to that?
Beatty: I don’t think you can force anybody to be accountable—it’s individual choice—but I do get mad when people pretend there’s no decision to make, as if the question doesn’t exist.
I remember doing a reading a long time ago with this guy who read a short story full of slanderous stuff about women. Women in the audience got mad at him for using a particular word. He said, “I can use whatever word I want.” I thought, Yes, you’re right. But he was mad at the women for being offended. You have to realize that people have the right to be offended. You have to take into consideration the impact of what you’re saying.
Hop to it, folks. And have a good weekend.