I know it’s old news at this point, but if I’m going rail against Michael Richards for his judicious use of the KKK-friendly word “nigger” instead of the rapper-friendly word “nigga,” I’ve got to give some time to Isaiah Washington and his use of the word “faggot.”
Isaiah Washington allegedly referred to Grey’s Anatomy co-star T.R. Knight a “faggot” within ear shot. At the Golden Globes, Washington responded to the allegations:
T.R. Knight responded to Washington’s statement on Ellen’s show:
Washington finally owned up to the allegations admitting that he had some issues to work out and was entering rehab. There’s bigot rehab now? When did this shit happen. Apparently, he’s much better now and ready to join the rest of us.
I don’t care that Isaiah Washington hates gay people. I don’t care that Michael Richards hates black people. No amount of rehab will change the way you feel about someone unless you want to change the way you feel. Be all homophobic or racist all you want. But do it on your own time in your own damn home.
I do care when that homophobia or racism affects other people. It’s the actions that these people take that infuriates me. Does calling someone a “faggot” rise to the level of a hate crime? I wouldn’t go that far. But in any working environment, you should feel safe to be yourself. Clearly, Knight is uncomfortable working with Washington which will affect the show in a bad way (not that I give two shits about Grey’s Anatomy).
There’s another side to consider in all of this. Words are just words. You can choose how you react to hateful words. If you choose to let them have power over you, words like “nigger” or “faggot” will always hurt you. They will control an aspect of your life. If you choose to exert your power over words, words can never control you. I’ve been called “Cchink” and “Jap” before and it used to really bother me. I felt angry that someone would see me as anything other than who I am. But getting angry gives these words power over me and I am no longer willing to let anyone or anything control me. So call me anything you want. I know who I am and that’s good enough to me.
In the end, I think that both Isaiah Washington and Michael Richards are incredibly stupid for the words they used. I think both of them are suffering the consequences for those actions. I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy anyway so I couldn’t care less if Washington got fired. You slur someone’s sexuality or ethnicity in an office and you’d probably get fired. Either way, I couldn’t care less about him. I do hope that T.R. Knight will rise above this and not let slurs hold power over him. Washington doesn’t deserve that kind of power over him and as a black man, he should have damn well known better.