I Want You to Shut the F#ck Up

BOOK: I Want You to Shut the F#ck Up
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Copyright © 2012 by D. L. Hughley

All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Crown Archetype,
an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group,
a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

with colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Hughley, D. L. (Darryl L.), 1963–
I want you to shut the f#ck up : how the audacity of dopes is ruining America / by D. L. Hughley.—1st ed.
p. cm.
1. American wit and humor. I. Title.

PN6165.H84 2012


eISBN: 978-0-307-98626-9

Jacket design by Michael Nagin
Jacket photography © Deborah Feingold
Photograph on
this page
© Laurin Rinder,




only Uncle Sam could see us now.

He’d roll up his sleeves, ball his hands into fists, and knock some sense into this nation of ours. But he’s not around, so someone else has to take the mantle. Some other proud American has to tell this country what it needs to hear. Everyone else is telling it what it
to hear—and that’s not the path to progress.

When I was growing up, there used to be simple rules that we’ve now forgotten. The rules served us well, and they were easy to understand and follow. You do this, and you get that. You
do this, and you
get that. It was just a matter of quid pro quo.

My mother constantly used to tell us, “Don’t nobody owe you
shit. You think the world revolve around you? It don’t,” or, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” When’s the last time an American missed a meal? When did he doubt that he was the center of the universe? If
came home and told my mother that I was hungry, she’d inevitably ask me what I did that day.

“Nothing,” I’d admit.

“Well strangely, that’s what’s for dinner!” To hell with pork;
was the other white meat for me.

Back then, it was experience that was the best teacher. Parents used to say, “I can show you better than I can tell you.” When we were growing up and went by the stairs, all you would hear is
Bump, bump, boom!
And your mother would go, “Uh-huh. A hard head makes a soft ass.” Meaning: Being a stubborn troublemaker leads to many a spanking—paternal or gravitational. But these days, parents spend a lot of time babyproofing their homes. They put foam on corners, a gate by the stairs, and plastic over the outlets. The kids don’t learn what it means to fall down and hurt themselves.

Every black adult I know has a scar from doing some shit they weren’t supposed to be doing or from fucking with something they weren’t supposed to be fucking with. I was jumping up and down on the bed when I was about five years old. Sure enough, I fell and split my eyebrow open. My mother came into the room and saw me wounded. All she said was, “You know now, don’t you?”

“Mama, I’m bleeding!”

“Blood lets you know when you fucked up.” There was no wringing of hands, no “Oh, my poor baby!” No, my mother was
. “Now I gotta take your silly ass to the hospital. If you had just listened to me and settled the fuck down, I could have been making us dinner!” I was hurt, but I learned. Our communities are
, but they sure as fuck ain’t
. From an early age, we’re not even being taught
to learn.

I only stumbled upon
to learn when I was in fifth grade. That’s when I had a hippie teacher named Mr. Boston. He had long hair, a beard, and drove a Volkswagen. Mr. Boston loved listening to fucking hippie music, and he told us
about it. He loved karate, which he taught to us kids. I don’t know how effective karate was supposed to be in a neighborhood where everyone is coming heavy, but it sure gave him peace of mind. Whether it was the martial arts or the shitty songs, he wasn’t scared of our neighborhood.

Mr. Boston was one of those teachers that always went the extra mile. Unfortunately, that was often
the case. He would drive out of his way to kids’ parents’ houses and tell on all the shit that was going down at Avalon Gardens Elementary. Every time I’d get in trouble, he’d be over. My father would have his van parked, and then Mr. Boston would park his little Volkswagen as far up as he could get it on the driveway. Whenever I saw the edge of that Volkswagen sticking out of the driveway, I knew shit was going to get fucked with. He would tell on me
all the time

One day I couldn’t follow what Mr. Boston was talking about during the lesson. I raised my hand to ask him what he meant. As soon as my arm was up in the air, I remembered how my mother yelled at me when she grew sick of my pestering her. “Oh, I’m not supposed to ask you why,” I said, under my breath. The comment was meant more for myself than anybody else, but Mr. Boston heard me.

ask why,” he told me and the entire class. “You can
ask why. Any time you don’t know something, you’re
to ask why.
Always question what somebody tells you

It was the most empowering thing I had ever heard in my life up until that point. My mother may have given me life, but Mr. Boston gave me thought—or rather, he gave me
to think. He taught me the
of learning, and it sure as fuck ain’t opening
your mouth before you know the facts. From that day and even until now, it was like a switch was flicked in my mind. I knew that I
something. I didn’t know
and I couldn’t tell what would happen as a consequence, but I knew that
had gotten unlocked.

So when I hear someone spouting nonsense, I don’t just disagree—I ask
they’re doing that. When I witness Americans choosing self-destruction, I ask why.
is this country on the wrong track?
are we repeating the same mistakes over and over?
are we so oblivious? It was my MO my entire life. That in itself was enough—until I became a father myself.

I was working sales at the
Los Angeles Times
in 1986 when my wife, LaDonna, got pregnant. My $4.75 an hour wasn’t going to cut it, so I needed a raise. Getting a promotion to sales manager required a college degree. Having just gotten my GED, a college degree was not an option. I did the next best thing: I hustled. A dude I knew had connections in the dean’s office at Long Beach State. I paid him $200, and he got me a sterling letter on official letterhead claiming that I was just a few credits away from getting my diploma.

My supervisor, a cat by the name of Ron Wolf, knew that I was full of shit and that the letter was a lie. But he took a chance on me and made me an assistant sales manager anyway, earning $30,000 a year. That was as much as a
. I excelled so much at my gig that nine months later, they made me a full-fledged manager. A year and a half after
, they put me down in Ventura as the sales manager. I was in charge of the telephone managers, the assistant managers, and the detail clerks. In total I had eight managers and a sales staff of three hundred overseeing Ventura, Santa Barbara, Lompoc, and Santa Maria. In other words: white, ivory, vanilla, and snow white.

BOOK: I Want You to Shut the F#ck Up
8.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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