The latest issue of Playboy magazine includes an interview with John Mayer that has caused a lot of controversy among some African-Americans. In the interview he responded to interview questions about dating Black women and having a “hood pass.” In his responses he utilized terminology that was deemed offensive, including the n-word and a reference to white supremacy. Out of context, the immediate response is He said what??? Who does he think he is?” But what about within context?

Musically, I can take or leave Mayer. I have only one of his cds on my iPod, and generally don’t think about him much. I certainly don’t care about who he’s dating or any of the other tabloid nonsense. I became more interested in him after following him on Twitter. His tweets tend to be funny, unusual and, yes, sometimes a little off color. I like it when people aren’t afraid to say things that may not be PC or that people may not “get.” Apparently this tendency to say whatever comes to mind has now gotten Mayer in some trouble.

When asked about being given a “hood pass” (a term which in itself can be offensive IMO,) he said that if he really had a “hood pass” he could call it a “n***** pass.” Now we ALL know that use of that word by white folks is inflammatory to say the least. Should he have said it? Probably not. Did I get his point? Yes. Was I mad? No. Am I Black? Yes. I happen to believe that saying the word “n*****” is different than calling someone a “n*****.” The word itself doesn’t offend me, but if you call me (or anyone else) one, we have a problem. Of course I realize that it’s like two sides of the same coin, but that’s just how I feel about it. He also said that he doesn’t date Black women in a statement that compared his man parts to a white supremacist. Do I care? No. Am I offended? No.

To give you a little background, I see racism and racist undertones in most things, because, well, let’s face it, it exists in most things when it comes to how things are done in this country. That being said, I was surprised by the reactions by other Black folks to Mayer’s statements. Especially women. I completely understand the anger at his use of the n-word. Even though I get the point he was making, I can think of very few, if any, circumstances in which use of this word by a White person is acceptable. Michael Richards learned that the hard way. Do I think John Mayer is a racist? No. Of course his statement was racially charged and provocative, but in reading it, I did not get a sense of a racist undertone. Same thing with the statement about not dating Black women. I read an article (or was it a blog post? I forget) in which a woman said something to the effect of “millions of Black women’s legs are now closed to John Mayer.” Um, were they all open to him in the first place? If so, why? Now, of course, he didn’t have to and probably should not have referenced white supremacy and David Duke when discussing his preference in selecting females with whom to have sex. His response was over the top and not clearly thought out. But what is there to be mad about unless you were trying to have sex with him? Guess what – I don’t care if someone that I don’t want doesn’t want me. So, if any Black woman reading this cares that John Mayer is not sexually attracted to you, please enlighten me as to why.

John Mayer made some bad judgment calls in this interview, for sure. He has apologized for using the n-word (and btw, I’m not printing it because I know that some people find it offensive no matter the context and I’m not here to offend anyone) but I’m not sure if he has apologized for the other comments. Either way, it’s whatever. I’d much rather people say what they really think/feel than to censor themselves for public acceptance. I don’t believe in apologies brought on by backlash from the public. If you are truly sorry, then by all means apologize, but please apologize because, for whatever reason, you no longer believe in what you said/did, not just because people are upset. Perfect example: the Kanye West/Taylor Swift debacle. I hated that he launched Apologalooza after the VMAs because we all know that he genuinely meant what he said. So why are you sorry? Because people were in an uproar over it? Ok, he didn’t have to jump up on stage with her, but it’s just an awards show, man. They aren’t saving lives. (I think there were racial motivations behind the Kanye backlash as well. Yeah, he’s a bit arrogant, etc. but he always has been. He wasn’t even talking about himself. People went way over the top with Kanye hate after that event. If it had been Justin Bieber or a Jonas brother, people would have just laughed.) Mayer is known for talking out the side of his neck. His words don’t bother me, nor do his thoughts. Now if we get into racist actions, again we have an issue. John Mayer is not a politician, he’s just a musician. Meaning 1) I have no expectation of political correctness and 2) he has no impact on my life – he doesn’t shape laws, he can’t deny me housing or a job, etc. Since his apology, Mayer’s been quiet on Twitter which is too bad because his tweets were primarily witty or at least good for a giggle. By the way, if I’m completely off base and John Mayer IS a racist, at least now the cat’s out of the bag.

Be who you want to be today.