Despite a recent standoff with the school’s current student body, Dave Chappelle is still asking both fans and critics to donate to the Duke Ellington School for The Arts in Washington, DC.
In the days following a rough Q&A session with students at the school, Chappelle took to Instagram (see below) to plea with supporters and opponents to help the school raise money regardless of how they may feel about the comedian or the transphobic material he featured in his new Netflix special, The Closer, which sparked the backlash.
“The Duke Ellington school is a glorious institution. Within those walls I found a context to explore my creativity seriously,” Chappelle opens the first slide in a series, featuring photos of himself at the school last weekend. “Having the theater named after me is a great honor. Although that was not my idea, aim, or desire,” Chappelle continues. “If you object to my receiving this honor, I urge you to donate to the school noting your objection. If you are in favor of the theater being named ‘Chappelle,’ I urge you to donate to the school, noting your approval,” the comedian says in a third slide, before closing the series with a vow to “step aside” from his alma mater’s theater-naming if critics donate more than those who approve and those who consider themselves neutral. Chappelle caps the note with hallmark punctuation. “If you don’t care enough to donate…please, shut the fuck up, forever.”
However, the school has since issued a statement saying that it intends to still name a theater after him no matter the outcome of Chappelle’s call for donations either condoning or condemning the theater name change.
“While we appreciate Dave’s impromptu and spirited fundraising initiative, we stand behind our decision to honor the wishes of our co-founder, the late Peggy Cooper Cafritz, to name the theatre after Chappelle,” the statement said. “All donations will go towards arts programming and every donor, irrespective of their support or opposition to the theater naming, will receive an official thank you from our team.”
Ahead of the Thanksgiving break last week, Chappelle made a surprise appearance at the Duke Ellington School for The Arts to host a contentious hour-long session with nearly 600 of the school’s students. The comedian arrived with a camera crew and required all attendees to hand over their phones during the filmed visit (which has become customary at Chappelle performances.) Chappelle took questions and remarks from students, who greeted the comedian with mixed reactions. Some booed, some cheered. Others took it as an opportunity to condemn the comedian’s material in The Closer and his response to the uproar. The appearance followed a recent stop on a screening tour for his new Untitled documentary, where Chappelle claimed his truce with the LGBTQ community was only in effect while the cameras were on, refusing to stop telling transphobic jokes.
You can read the full statement from Dave Chappelle below. Donations are underway now via the school’s site.
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