No Cheers for Blackface


Washington. -- Normally you'd never read a word in this column about a Friars Club roast in which the egoists of the entertainment world vie to see who can be most vulgar, ethnically offensive or disgusting.

But I must comment on the recent roasting of Whoopi Goldberg at which her alleged lover, Ted Danson, showed up in blackface with an array of "nigger" jokes and lewd comments about his supposed sex life with Whoopi.

What makes this "roast" worth national commentary is not that the Friars Club apologized -- for a day. It is not that the black woman Whoopi says she wrote most of the "nigger" stuff that Mr. Danson used. It is not that New York Mayor David Dinkins was offended, or that the black TV talk show host Montel Williams walked out. It's not even that Ms. Goldberg stooped to a charge that Mr. Williams and Mayor Dinkins were "seeking publicity."

The overriding issue here is Whoopi Goldberg's obvious lack of concern about her impact upon America's young people, especially black girls who are being enslaved every day by illicit or promiscuous sex. Whoopi's foul mouth wounds black women who are already being cheated and humiliated by leaders of this society who disrespect them and abuse them.

Ms. Goldberg said at Friars that she wants to be "the best paid bitch in Hollywood." She leads the pack of comics on HBO and other cable channels who make a ritual of calling black women bitches -- another term for dogs and sluts.

So Whoopi told Mr. Danson to show up in blackface? That only tells us how grossly insensitive she is. How could she not realize that the time came long ago when neither the Gridiron Club, the White House Correspondents nor any other respectable club can use as "humor" the old minstrel routines?

Mr. Danson didn't need blackface to be funny when he told of introducing Ms. Goldberg to his staid parents, claiming they offered her a ride to the bus stop after she'd mopped and done the dishes.

But some "jokes" were worse than the blackface routine. Like most men, and many women, I've told and heard hundreds of raunchy jokes in private gatherings. But I am convinced that there are bad social consequences when Ms. Goldberg is on nationwide TV using every vulgar word in the English language, telling of the fortune she spent on a guy who refused to give her oral sex.

She has gotten rich being raunchy, so she is one of the reasons why thousands of aspiring black comics think they cannot be funny unless they spew forth a cascade of 4- and 12-letter words relating to sexual and bodily functions.

Bill Cosby is right in expressing outrage over this destructive situation.

I don't accept Montel Williams' criticism of the roast as "a rally for the KKK and Aryan Nation." He was super-presumptuous in saying that he apologized to the black women -- Shari Belafonte, Jasmine Guy, Vanessa Williams, Anita Baker -- who attended the roast. They apparently knew what to expect, and some if not all laughed hilariously.

But I doubt that any of these black women is laughing now. Not if they've had a chance to reflect upon the message that Ms. Goldberg and Mr. Danson are sending to the nation's young people, especially minority women.

I offer no "cheers" to Mr. Danson. And I hope but doubt that Whoopi will learn that having the respect of young women may be almost as important as being "the best-paid bitch" in Hollywood.

Carl T. Rowan is a syndicated columnist.

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