The comedian has been steeped in controversy since September when comments he made about the transgender community landed him in the crosshairs of critics and activists alike. Now, the comedian is hoping to use the debate surrounding his name as a way to raise funds for Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Georgetown, where he attended high school.
Chappelle was due for an appearance at the school to commemorate a theater being named in his honor. While he did pay a visit to the school before Thanksgiving, the theater naming was postponed to April amid backlash to give administrators a chance to open a proper dialogue with students. However, the comedian took to Instagram over the weekend to give his critics a path to stop him from receiving the honor altogether rather than just talk about it.
“Talk is cheap (Unless I do it),” he began the post.
“Having the theater named after me is a great honor. Although, that was not my idea, aim or desire. At the request of our beloved school’s founder Peggy Cooper Cafritz, I accepted,” he continued. “In April, I intend to honor that request. 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.”
Chappelle stated that he will “gladly step aside” if his critics donate a higher dollar value to the school than those who approve or are neutral.
“If not, I will happily attend the naming ceremony. And if you don’t care enough to donate… please shut the f— up, forever,” he concluded.
The student body of the Duke Ellington school was clearly split over opinions on Chappelle in the wake of “The Closer.” When he did show up for a Q&A with students ahead of the holiday, some were quick to discuss the transphobia allegations head-on.
“I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child,” a student said, adding that Chappelle is a “bigot,” Politico Playbook reported Thursday after speaking to attendees of the event.
“My friend, with all due respect, I don’t believe you could make one of the decisions I have to make on a given day,” he responded, according to students recounting the event.
Politico also reported that he responded to another antagonistic question from a student: “I’m better than every instrumentalist, artist, no matter what art you do in this school, right now, I’m better than all of you. I’m sure that will change. I’m sure you’ll be household names soon.”
Chappelle also reportedly noted that he was unhappy to hear that some students were receiving threats over their decision to protest him.
Earlier in his post, Chappelle sang the praises of the school and credited it for the success he found later in life.
“The Duke Ellington school is a glorious institution,” he wrote. “Within those walls I found a context to explore my creativity seriously. Duke Ellington, in large part, prepared me to undertake this noble and difficult profession. It was a fine institution before any of it’s current occupants got there. God willing, it will be a fine institution long after their tenure is done. My only intent is to insure Duke Ellington the opportunity to train it’s artists, unfettered.”