In Depth

Chet Haze n-word storm: Tom Hank's son sparks outrage

White rapper, also known as Chester Hanks, insists on his right to use racially charged hip-hop language

The aspiring rapper son of Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks has provoked outrage after using the n-word in a social media post. Chester Hanks used the racially charged term in captions on his Instagram feed and went on to defend his right to use it.

The controversy began when Hanks, who also goes by the name Chet Haze, was criticised for using the language of black rappers while on holiday in London, reports the Daily Mirror. Hanks, who is white, received negative comments after posting a picture of a black collaborator on Instagram with the caption: "my n***a".

After one fan asked: "My n***a? Do you own him?" Hanks responded with a rant on Instagram saying: "F*** yall hating ass n***az I'll never stop chasing my dream".

This post prompted yet more ridicule.

Hanks has repeatedly refused to apologise for his actions, instead continuing to defend his right to use the n-word. In a series of comments and videos, he insisted that while he meant no disrespect to black people or the civil rights movement, no-one could tell him what to say.

"There is hot competition for silliest celebrity offspring in Hollywood," says Kat Brown in the Daily Telegraph, "but Chester Hanks just might be the winner."

The thing is, Hanks "sees himself as a young African-American man, and therefore he's gonna say, "n**ga" anywhere and anytime he wants", says TMZ. Hanks is seriously "on a crusade to be able to say the n-word", and not just in his music.

He has even posted a video explaining his campaign, saying: "Hip-hop isn't about race. It's about the culture you identify with." Interestingly, TMZ notes, Hanks is censored when he says the n-word on a recent recording of his song Juice which appeared online, while his black collaborator isn't.

By his own admission, however, Chet knows most of you won't "get" it, says Hudson Hongo on Gawker. So he's also written an explanatory rant about how his use of the n-word actually comes from a place of love, and is an inalienable right protected by the US constitution.

In the Washington Post, Soraya Nadia MacDonald suggests: "Hanks seems to be operating under the misapprehension that he must don a persona that's more Compton than Pacific Palisades in order to find success in the rap game."

But MacDonald also wonders if the whole controversy isn't just "a ruse to draw more attention to his SoundCloud profile".

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