Dear Dave Chappelle

Alexander (Sascz) Herrmann
4 min readNov 13, 2021


A picture of a button with the Netflix “N”
Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

As a trans person, I’m now supposed to hate Dave Chapelle. That’s because, during his special The Closer, he said the words “I’m team TERF”. It’s because he defended JK Rowling. It’s because, I guess, a trans woman killed herself when she got abused on Twitter for defending him. It’s because of Sticks and Stones (which, by the way, is a really funny show).

I’m white, in case you didn’t know. I’m so white that I give off a glow at night. I grew up in a white neighborhood, in a white town, in a white state. I’ve never done racist shit on purpose, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t done racist shit. It just means I was ignorant. There’s no excuse for that. These days, I try to be less ignorant, and I hope I succeed every once in a while.

Dave Chappelle’s new show was problematic for me. On the one hand, I’ve always appreciated Chappelle, I’ve always thought he did the hard work and did it well. On the other hand, he was “punching down” at “my people”. Wasn’t he?

Wasn’t he?

If that’s what you think, you’re missing the point. And it’s one hell of a sharp one.

Here’s Dave Chapelle’s point, and I’m going to apologize for restating it on his behalf, because I’m WHITE and I don’t have the right. But I am trans, so maybe that means something.

LGBTQIA2s+ people — and I’m using all the current symbols, just to make the point that the term changes over time — we people have come a long way in, comparatively, a very short time. I’m forgetting intersectionality for a minute and just considering people who are GSM (much better acronym in my opinion) as GSM, not as anything else that might be part of their identity. We have come a very long way, and it’s been a cosmic second.

By comparison, Black people are still pulling themselves out of the hole that they’ve been in, at white people’s hands, since 1619 (in this country alone, let’s not get into the concept of slavery in general). Every goddamn time they get ahead, we shove them back down. We take away their power. Or at least we try.

In Sticks and Stones, Chappelle made the point that if every single Black person went out and obtained a legal firearm, the gun laws in this country would change, at long last. Do you remember him making that point? I’m gonna go ahead and hazard a guess and say that if you’re white, you probably don’t remember that, especially if you’re queer. You don’t remember that, you remember the whole bit about the car and the pronouns and the booty shorts.

I’m gonna hazard another guess and say that if you’re Black, you got his point about the guns and you remember that about the show. I might be wrong, and furthermore, since I’m white, I shouldn’t even be guessing what a Black person thinks or remembers, so let me apologize for that. I’m not trying to speak for Black people. I’m just trying to say that the point about gun control was very important, and very goddamn true. You want something done in this country, you talk to Black people. You want Trump out of office? Yeah? Who do you think put him IN? It wasn’t Black people. But when time came to vote him out, you bet it was Black people who got that shit done.

Dave Chappelle doesn’t care what I, a white trans man, thinks about him, I’m sure. He’s never gonna see this. But I sat through The Closer and it made me cry. Not because he hurt my feelings; he didn’t. I didn’t disagree with a single thing he said, with the possible exception of “I’m Team TERF”, and even then, I got what he said, I just felt it was very easy to misunderstand. But that was part of his point.

When I was at an impressionable age, I read a book (and I’m not going to say what book, or even who the author was, because that’s a whole other can of worms) where the protagonist, who is an alien to mainstream culture, makes the point that all humor is abusive. All humor, no matter how gentle, is making fun of someone, even if that someone is the self.

All humor, in other words, is punching. It might be punching up or it might be punching down, but it is punching. That is what humor is all about. It is a mirror, held up to the human condition. Humans are the animals that laugh at themselves. Let’s face it, we are pretty damn funny.

Listen, I’m not going to be an apologist for Dave Chappelle. He doesn’t need one. But I am gonna say this:

Dear Dave Chappelle, this may be your last special for a minute. But don’t let it be the last forever. Don’t stop doing the hard work as only you can do it. Don’t stop punching. Hold up that mirror and shine it. WE NEED IT.

We need to laugh at ourselves. Daphne Dorman, rest her soul, understood that.



Alexander (Sascz) Herrmann

I’m a disabled transmasculine cybersecurity specialist living in Berkshire County, MA, USA. I like to write, sing, do fiber art, and play video games.