photo via The Comic’s Comic
John Witherspoon claimed he “wasn’t a big deal,” but he was more than an actor and comedian. Witherspoon shared a piece of black fatherhood with the world. In society, the relationship between a black father and son is misunderstood and questionable to many. In the black community, we roast each other, fight, but most importantly, teach our sons how to be a man. We’ll roast you, hit you in the chest, put you in a headlock, embarrass you, but it’s all love. Until the very end, we will be around to lead you in the right path. That’s how we show love. That’s what Witherspoon did. “Put the gun down, son….be a man. ” says Craig’s dad, an epic moment in “Friday” that challenges black masculinity. This is the presence Witherspoon delivered on and off the screen.
Even in ” The Boondocks,” Grandad (Witherspoon) loves Huey and Riley, dearly, even though it’s apparent that they Riley pisses him off, like the son he never had. We’ll never forget in “The Boondocks,” when Grandad fell in love, and had his heart broken by the prostitute, Cristal. We’ll never forget when Riley told Grandad, “Game recognize game, Grandad, and you looking’ kinda unfamiliar!” You can tell Witherspoon wants the best for his “kids,” and is that necessary voice we need to guide us in the right direction. He’s the voice who’ll tell you, “Son, I love you, but you f”n up!” He’s the kind of figure that black males need in their life.
What’s interesting about Witherspoon is even the non-blacks will quote lines from “Friday,” such as “Bang, bang, bang!” He brought community for people who’ve never lived one day in the hood. Though not all of us come from the ghetto South Central LA, Witherspoon was a father to those who have never lived that lifestyle. He was real, honest, and a hell of a character, with a raw sense of humor, and that’s why many of us gravitated toward him, as a father, like one of our own. Witherspoon was a comedic legend as far as a mentor to many, especially to the black community.
“I’m devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon,” Ice Cube wrote on Twitter. “Life won’t be as funny without him.”
“My dad, my grandpa, my comedic inspiration,” actress Regina King wrote on Twitter Tuesday night. “I love you Spoons! Rest In Paradise, King.”
Pops lives on, and will always be our father and real one, #RIPPOPS