If You Defend Nick Cannon’s Actions, You’re Defending Racism, Anti-Semitism & Hate Speech

Note: In case you haven’t read my previous writing or don’t know me, I want to be very clear that I am not selectively attacking a black person. I’ve been very outspoken against racism (especially towards black people) and I’ve publicly talked at length about the racial issues in our country.


Nick Cannon is one of the biggest black media personalities and he just got fired by Viacom CBS for refusing to apologize for making racist and antisemitic statements.

Nick claimed that he was only fired because he’s black (not because of what he said) and the general sentiment on Twitter has been extremely defensive of Nick and his actions.

I’ve been vocal that Trump’s racist and hateful rhetoric has no place in our society and neither does Nick Cannon’s racist and hateful rhetoric.

Nick Cannon’s believes that he can’t be racist because “racism is when an “elite” group uses its systemic power to enforce harm, hardship, and pain on others.”

But regardless of what ethnic group you identify with, you can be racist. The actual definition of racism is “that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”

The issue is that if you’re actively working to end racism and hate while simultaneously defending racism and hate then you’re undermining the cause.

Understanding Why Nick Cannon Was Fired

Nick Cannon took responsibility for his actions but declined to apologize. This isn’t a surprise given that he has previously stated that he’s against apologies: “To me apologies are empty. Are you forcing me to say the words ‘I’m sorry’?”

Viacom CBS’s Statement: “While we support ongoing education and dialogue in the fight against bigotry, we are deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating antisemitism, and we are terminating our relationship with him.”

7/16 Update: After multiple non-apologies, Nick publicly apologized for his anti-semitic rhetoric but not for his racism.

Understanding Nick Cannon’s Comments

From The Root:

“When you have a person that has the lack of pigment, the lack of melanin, they know that they will be annihilated,” Cannon explained on his “Cannon’s Class” podcast. “So the people that don’t have [melanin] are—I’mma say this carefully—are a little less…They’re acting out of fear. They’re acting out of low self-esteem. They’re acting out of a deficiency. So, therefore, the only way they can act is evil.”

Cannon’s comments included elements from Yakub’s history—the insane theory that white people were created 6,000 years ago by an evil, cave-dwelling scientist. According to this alternative version of history endorsed by The Nation of Islam, this “genetically engineered tribe of white-skinned albinos” evolved into a “behaviorally aggressive race of rulers—namely, the Caucasians—who then spread into every corner of the world.” He interpolated this with the writings of Dr. Frances Cress Welding’s 1974 essay “The Cress Theory of Color Confrontation and Racism,” which theorized that racial intolerance exists because of whites’ deep-seated jealousy of people with melanin, which causes white people to embrace white supremacy.

You can watch the full 90-minute interview here.

Charles Barkley’s Perspective

For another insightful perspective on this, read Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s post about anti-semitism.

An Educational Thread From A Black/Jewish Person About The Situation

From @MalanasQueendom on Twitter:

My partner and I were just discussing how a lot of Black people don’t have the education around anti-Semitism to fully get why Nick Cannon’s rant was messed up. So let me be your Black & Jewish educational fairy godmother

First, that Rothschild bank theory. That ain’t real. Many Jewish people in Europe were forced to work in banking because of laws restricting them from entering other types of work. This is where the stereotypes of stingy, money grubbing, banking, etc. Come from.

But it was the racist/anti-Semitic structures that pushed Jewish people into that system in the first place. This is similar to calling Black people Welfare Queens- a system was created that locked people into place and a stereotype was invented around it.

One old-timey Jewish family being rich doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy theory. It’s like wealth inequality has existed for generations! *gasp* If you want to know who runs the banks google Bank of America and Chase (hint- they’re very white and very not Jewish)

Now as far as Nick calling Jewish people savages, I hope it’s pretty obvious why this is anti-Semitic. But in case it’s not, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Untermensch

Then Nick’s whole original semite thing…ugh… theres so much wrong with it. So the idea is that Jews stole Black people’s identity as the “true” people of israel. This means that Jewish people are to be blamed for all the racism Black people experience

You see this a lot in Farrakhan’s rhetoric. Taken to the extreme, you’d have to exterminate racism you’d have to exterminate Jewish people so Black people can reclaim their spot as the “chosen people.”

Farrakhan and other Black supremacists use Jewish people as a boogeyman and scapegoat to push their own agenda and cult of personality. There can be no end to racism without an end to anti-semitism

The us (Black people) vs. Them (Jewish people) people like Nick Cannon use breaks down when you have someone like me, a Black Jew.

In fact, many anti-Semitic ideas of features are rooted in anti-Blackness and vice versa: curly hair, big nose, etc.

Historically, the very idea of racism came initially from Spain and its treatment of Jews during the Inquisition. https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-racism-was-first-officially-codified-in-15thcentury-spain these types of racial codifications were later used to entrench chattel slavery in what would become the U.S.

I know lots of white Jewish people are racist. I know lots of Black people are anti-Semitic. I know these communities have hurt each other, and I know from personal experience it is much harder to be Black in the U.S. than it is to be Jewish. But all oppression is connected.

Anyway, there’s a lot more to be said but I’ll leave it there for now. Go head and ask questions if you’re here to learn. Other Black Jews especially feel free to chime in.

Adding this because people keep saying Viacom fired Nick because he’s a Black man exercising his freedom of speech. Stop it. Colin Kaepernick was fired for exercising his freedom of speech. Nick Cannon was fired for shooting off racist conspiracy theories.

Viacom is a racist company that has stock in for-profit prisons. Maybe Nick was given a quicker hook than a white person saying the same things would have been. Doesn’t make it any less racist or mean Nick should be expected to not face consequences.

Black people: you cannot want people to suffer consequences for racist actions *but only when they’re racist against Black people.” You also can’t have it so Black people aren’t also held responsible for racist actions. That’s not how justice and liberation works.

Idk if this counts as viral enough to promote something but support Black SWers and other things that make Hoteps angry https://www.blacksexworkercollective.org/

While the response has been overwhelmingly positive, since posting this I’ve been called uneducated, a coon, a n*gger, a colonizer, and of all things, an anti-semite. That’s the type of anti-Black and anti-Semitic silencing tactics going on. Do Black Jewish lives matter to you?

Subscribe To The Weekly Newsletter

Join 1,000+ other people who read my weekly emails. Unsubscribe anytime.
I started Need Change to write about important issues regarding society, politics, media, climate change, COVID-19, psychology, and racism. My work has been featured by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the U.S. & U.K. Governments. Keep reading to hear the perspective of someone who grew up in America, has lived in 15+ countries, and is deeply passionate about uniting humanity and improving the world. Feel free to click the chat in the bottom right if you ever want to talk! I'm friendly :).