J. Cole has apologized for an "offensive" line in his verse for Drake's "Jodeci Freestyle." The line in question makes a negative reference towards people with autism.
"Fuck your list you, lame niggas and doubters
I'm undoubtedly the hottest and that's just me being modest
Go check the numbers dummy, that's just me gettin' started
I'm artistic, you niggas is autistic, retarded"
The above scheme faced backlash soon after the track was released. Among the many who criticized Cole for this rhyme was Flannery. In a letter, Flannery wrote about her son's struggles with autism. "Please help me," Flannery wrote in an open letter to Cole in the Connor Chronicles. "I’m fighting, we’re fighting, for our son’s future; his survival and ability to navigate the world depend so much on what happens in these early years. Please don’t make our uphill climb an exercise in futility. We, and so many others, will never forgive you for that. Do the right thing. Lift our children up, don’t tear them down."
Late Sunday (July 21), Cole apologized for the line with a letter of his own. The letter was attached to a Twitter post. It can be read below.
I said something in a rap that was offensive to those with Autism. Feel terrible. A tweeted apology wouldn't do. http://t.co/cyMbXubz3T
— J. Cole (@JColeNC) July 21, 2013
Recently there’s been a trend that includes rappers saying something
offensive, only to be attacked for it in the media and pressured to
apologize. I have to be completely honest and say there’s a part of me
that resents that. I view rap similar to how I view comedy. It’s going
to ruffle feathers at times. It’s going to go “too far”. I do not
believe that an apology is needed every time someone is offended,
especially when that apology is really only for the sake of saving an
endorsement or cleaning up bad press.
With that said, this is not the case today. This letter is sincere.
This apology IS necessary.
In a recent verse on the song “Jodeci Freestyle”, I said something
highly offensive to people with Autism. Last week, when I first saw a
comment from someone outraged about the lyric, I realized right away
that what I said was wrong. I was instantly embarrassed that I would
be ignorant enough say something so hurtful. What makes the crime
worse is that I should have known better.
To the entire Autism community who expressed outrage, I’m moved and
inspired by your passion, and I’m amazed at how strong you are as a
unit. I have now read stories online from parents about their
struggles and triumphs with raising an Autistic child and I admire how
incredibly strong you have to be to do so. It’s touching. It also
makes what I said even more embarrassing for me. I feel real shame.
You have every right to be angry.
To anyone suffering from Autism, either mildly or severely, I am
sorry. I’m bound to make mistakes in my life, but in my heart I just
want to spread Love.
I want to educate myself more on Autism, and I’ll gladly own my
mistake and serve as an example to today’s generation that there’s
nothing cool about mean-spirited comments about someone with Autism.
People with this disorder and their loved ones have to go through so
much already, the last thing they need is to hear something as
ignorant as what I said. I understand.
To the parents who are fighting through the frustrations that must
come with raising a child with severe autism, finding strength and
patience that they never knew they had; to the college student with
Asperger’s Syndrome; to all those overcoming Autism. You deserve
medals, not disrespect. I hope you accept my sincere apology.
According to Autism Speaks, which Cole referenced in the title of his letter, 1 in 88 American children are now on the autism spectrum. Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD for short, and autism are general terms for different disorders. As Autism Speaks explains, "These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome."
Others have also reached out to work with autism awareness efforts. 50 Tyson partnered with Autism Society of Minnesota. Murs has worked with children with autism at a camp. Bilal has also spoken about one of his sons, who has autism.
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