Kevin Hart Won’t Get Redemption Until He Atones

Illustration for article titled Kevin Hart Won’t Get Redemption Until He Atones
Photo: Paras Griffin (Getty Images for Universal Pictures)

Kevin Hart fucked up, and he is continuing to fuck up even as I write this.


As my colleague Issac Bailey pointed out:

He messed up by refusing to do what was easy and right. As others have noted, he should have simply apologized again for the old tweets because a new, larger audience would be hearing about the tweets and his apology for the first time. Someone in his management team should have whispered that sage advice in his ear before he became history’s shortest-lived Oscars host.

Kevin should have apologized. He should have humbled himself and admitted where he went wrong. He should have been able to show where he has grown—especially since all of the offensive tweets are at least eight years old or more. He could have pointed to the fact that he stopped using those words and stopped having those types of jokes in his act.

You know why Kevin Hart didn’t do that?

Because Kevin Hart likely still thinks and believes as he did when he made those tweets. Deep down inside, he prays that neither of his sons comes to him and tells him that they are gay or that they want to play with dolls. He recently threw a cowboys and Indians-themed birthday for the 1-year-old. It is obvious that he is not the paragon of political correctness.

No, Hart stopped making those comments around 2011, when he started blowing up to a wider audience. He wasn’t just the “black people’s” comedian anymore. He had a wider appeal and a larger audience, and if there is anything that can stop your bag in Hollywood—especially when it comes to white people—it is questionable content.

Kevin Hart followed in the same steps as some who have gone before him, like Eddie Murphy. Eddie was already a hugely successful comedian, but he opened himself up to more (white) money by cleaning up his act.


When Hart stopped making those tweets and statements, it wasn’t because he had suddenly changed his mind or his views on gays. It was because he didn’t want them to stop his bag. His foolish mistake was in not deleting the tweets. He left himself open to being called out, and that is exactly what happened.

My colleague asks “how long and how many times must a person be held accountable for past mistakes, even after they’ve been held to account multiple times?” He then naively and misguidedly likens the situation with Hart to our nation’s criminal justice system, in which black people are disproportionately impacted. He posits that if we decide we can’t forgive Hart in this situation, that is going to cause black people further harm in an unjust system. He mentions the situation in Florida where the right to vote was restored to those who had previously been convicted of felonies.


“That would not have happened if voters didn’t decide that once a person had been held accountable for the wrong he (or she) committed, he should be allowed to redeem himself,” Bailey wrote. “I think it’s wiser that we follow the lead of Florida voters than those who insist that someone like Hart should forever be tagged “homophobe” even after he’s made amends.”

First of all, nigga, please.

Those are two of the most egregious false equivalencies I have seen this week, and I am the person who wrote about PETA equating the phrase “beat a dead horse” with racism.


Not only is this an intellectually lazy argument, but it is a reach of Stretch Armstrong proportions.

As far as I can tell, this is the first time Kevin Hart has been called to task for these tweets. While Hart says in his Instagram video that he has addressed this multiple times, what he has addressed is not doing gay jokes in his standup acts. He has never addressed the tweets. Even in the first instance of the tweets being brought up, Hart didn’t go into apology mode. He became defensive.


He did that standard thing that men do when they get called out for something they know they were wrong about.

“Why you bringing up old shit?”

That was literally his response. He told people to “stop looking for reasons to be negative.” Does that sound like someone who is apologetic for the things he has said?


“You live and you learn and you grow and you mature,” he wrote, but where has he demonstrated that he has done any of that?

A person who has grown from a homophobic past would have seen this as an opportunity to share how they have learned and grown. But as is too often the case, Hart doesn’t have anything to show other than words. He wants to tell you he has learned and grown from his past. We are just supposed to believe that has truly happened.


There is no redemption without atonement.

Unlike the former felons in Florida, Hart has not atoned. He has not paid his debt. His life has not been disrupted and he is not contrite. He is simply annoyed that y’all had the nerve to bring this shit up.


Unlike black people in the U.S. criminal justice system, Hart is not separated from his family. He is not falsely accused. He is not facing an unjust sentence for a small crime.

Hart showed himself to be homophobic. He thought jokes at the expense of gay people were OK. He thought telling the world he would be violent toward his own son if said son wanted to play with a dollhouse was OK.


In a week or so when this all blows over, Kevin Hart will still be a millionaire. He will still get gigs and deals in Hollywood. He will still have his fanbase. He has lost nothing in this situation except an Oscar hosting gig that he presumably gave up on his own.

To liken him to the former felons in Florida or black people in the U.S. criminal justice system is an incredibly disrespectful leap.


If you want to cape for Kevin Hart, that’s fine, but just call that shit what it is.

And if that is the case, then both of y’all need to atone before demanding redemption.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.



I do not understand why we need to worry about Hart’s redemption, or Louis CK, or Al Franken, or Matt Laurer or any other recent asshat.

It isn’t my job to worry about when these folks can be redeemed and join in with productive society. I don’t really care if we ever hear from them again.

There are 14 other people that could host the Oscars just fine. Hell, there are 14 other black men that could host the Oscars just fine.

The world does not need 7 more Kevin Hart movies, and if they do, there are 14 other black men that could make equally shitty movies.

Louis CK was a fine comedian, but my life isn’t going to change one bit if he never gets on TV again.

I loved Al Franken. There are plenty of other progressive politicians who can take his place.

These folks are not being exiled to a different planet. They are still millionaires living a posh life.

I don’t really care to ever see them again. There are plenty more people without a history of being an asshat that can take their places.

I don’t need their bullshit.