Chester Hanks, son of actor Tom Hanks and actress Rita Wilson, is under fire for a series of Instagram posts in which he defends his use of the n-word.
The aspiring rapper, who also goes by the name Chet Haze, says he uses the racially charged word among his friends as part of his right to free speech.
“Hip-hop isn’t about race. It’s about the culture you identify with,” Hanks said, adding that most people do not understand his position. In another video, he said the n-word is “an unspoken thing between people who are friends, who understand each other.”
Hanks’ Instagram account has been taken down, although others have posted screenshots of his comments.
That has not stopped a flood of criticism on social media.
Neither Tom Hanks nor Wilson has commented publicly on their son’s use of the n-word. In an interview in February with the New York Post, Tom Hanks said he supports his son’s music career but doesn’t approve of some of his profane lyrics.
The controversy around Hanks comes amid criticism of other white entertainers for appropriating black culture. Pop star Iggy Azalea has come under fire from rappers such as Azealia Banks, who have said she mimics black culture to sell it to a white audience. There was a similar outcry at the 2014 Grammy Awards when Macklemore won best rap album over Kendrick Lamar.
Some have speculated that Hanks is manufacturing controversy to advance his music career. The rapper has four songs posted to his SoundCloud account.