While I was not able to attend Stacyann Chin’s event at Shoolroy Theater last night, as Co-President of Wooster’s Black Women’s Organization, I had the opportunity to sit down with Stacyann Chin for lunch with leaders of other student organizations on campus. It was a family-style lunch and we all sat at a long table. Discussion went into the direction of politics on campus and many different leaders explained various situations that have occurred on campus. Conversation seemed to often go back to racial incidents. We talked to Stacyann Chin about how hard it was to get administration to take action when students came to them about incidents on campus. Ms. Chinn asked us specifically what we wanted to come out of investigations and a lot of us said we wanted these people to be held accountable. Whether it be expulsion or revoking someone’s scholarship, many leaders called for individuals to be held accountable. Stacyann Chin did a great job of explaining to us that those types of demands are unrealistic and that it is important to organize and come up with reasonable goals and outcomes and bring those things to administration all together. When she told us this, I had never really realized or took seriously the importance of strategizing and organizing. In addition, it is important to control your emotions and not have how you feel get ahead of strategizing and organizing. Stacyann Chin offered some valuable advice and I plan to use it when it comes to racial incidents on campus. As young adults, it is often hard to think and work logically in the presences of overwhelming emotions, but after listening to Stacyann Chin, I plan to intentionally work towards doing these things.
Candace Owens is a popular black conservative who often makes very radical comments about racism, white supremacy, and is now being called out about her comments on Adolf Hitler. During a conference in London, Owens made a comment about Hitler basically saying that he wasn’t really all that bad because he wanted to make Germany a better place. She then goes on to say that Hitler was okay until he wanted to globalize. Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu plays this clip during a hearing that took place during white nationalism, where Owens was invited as a conservative representative. Owens claimed that the Southern Strategy does not exist and that white nationalism is not an issue in America at the moment.
White conservatives need black people, but specifically black women like Candace Owens to invalidate every struggle poor people, people of color, and women of color go through. “Well Candace Owens is black and she doesn’t think racism exists anymore so racism doesn’t exist anymore.” “Candace Owens is a woman and she doesn’t think sexism exists anymore so sexism doesn’t exist anymore.” Black people like Candace Owens who say white supremacy does not exist in our society today just further allow it to run rampant. In the left movements we have learned about in class, black women were vital to the cause and still are today. But unfortunately in radical right movement we see today, Black women hold just as much strength. Black women are a powerful force for whatever cause they are fighting for. It is vital and important that we use our voice, at the very least, to uplift and protect ourselves and our people instead of defending the very people who want to see us fail.
Lupita Nyong’o starred in Us playing Adelaide and Red, the tethered version of her character Adelaide. When describing her inspiration for her character Red, she said she was inspired by spasmodic dysphonia, a disorder where vocal muscle spasm causing interruptions in the person’s voice, making them difficult to understand. Many different organizations that represent people with various disabilities repremanded Nyong’o for demonizing the disorder. Nyong’o promptly came out apologizing for doing so and explaining that demonizing the disorder was not her intention. My question is why we did not reprimand Leonardo DiCaprio for his portrayal of Arnie, who had Autism, in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Why didn’t we accuse Tom Hanks of insensitivity for his portrayal of Forrest Grump, who had Asperger’s and Polio? In both of these cases, these white men were praised for their portrayal of these characters they played with disabilities. The difference between these characters and Nyong’o’s character, Red, is that the characters were explicit written to have these specific disabilities, while Jordan Peele didn’t explicitly write that the character Red had a certain disability. Why aren’t we shaming the writers that made characters with disabilities and not hiring actors with these disabilities? I believe that picking and choosing to be outraged with certain situations like this is fruitless. There is no consistency in being outraged with actors and actresses who portray disabilities. It seems like the outraged is being saved for people like Lupita Nyong’o, who are up and coming, just reaching fame. Society has these unrealistic, holier than thou expectations for minorities and women of color while not holding white men to these same standards. White men can do whatever they want and receive little to no outrage from the majority, but let a black women mess up and it’s the end of the world.
If you watched the movie, you would understand that Red actually was not the bad guy so claiming that Nyong’o was being offensive and demonizing spasmodic dysphoria does not work. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that. All you have to do is watch the movie.
But I also do believe that portrayals of disabilities in the film industry is a touchy subject. Are we primarily portraying disabilities in a negative light? Are we primarily portraying disabilities in a stereotypical manner that harms the differences in each person who suffers from that certain disability? I think conversation needs to be had on this and we should question how people with disabilities are portrayed, but it starts by calling everyone out and holding everyone to the same standards.
Mo’Nique and Steve Harvey sat down and had a discussion on his talk show about her treatment in Hollywood, but specifically Netflix’s offer of $500,00 for a comedy special. Mo’Nique was being offered significantly less than white female comedians like Amy Schumer and black male comedians like Chris Rock. Because of this, Mo’Nique called out Netflix and called for a boycott of Netflix as well. This discussion between the two was prompted because Steve Harvey did not approve of how she handled the situation. During the discussion, Mo’Nique explains that she was hurt by the fact that many black celebrities had reached out to her privately to support her, but were silent when she got backlash. Steve Harvey ended up explaining that he did not like how she handled that situation because speaking out on the truth in Hollywood costs money and he believed that she should have thought about that before speaking out. Mo’Nique ultimately said that integrity was more important than getting a check and Steve Harvey responded in saying that there were other ways to ‘win the war’ and fight for the cause without having to give up your check…
I find what Steve Harvey said incredibly frustrating because you rarely hear about backlash from members of the black community when black men stand up for inequality against themselves. But the moment when a black woman recognizes her worth, sees that she is not being paid what she deserves and speaks out against it and calls for action, she is handling the situation wrong. Steve Harvey’s comment saying she could have handled the situation differently makes me feel like he would rather her be quiet about the inequalities within Hollywood regarding black women. Black women rarely, if ever, tell black men to be quiet or not stand up or be vocal about inequalities they face and stand right beside them fighting for their cause, but it is so difficult to get that same support and solidarity from black men regarding black women inequalities. Black women are supposed to just take the inequalities and suffer in silence while still being expected to fight for their rights. It is also shameful that Steve Harvey cares more about obtaining more and more money rather than speak out against injustices. Steve Harvey earns more and more each year and as of 2017 had a net worth of $140 million. So he is telling us that he could not afford to speak out because he needs to be getting paid? That is ridiculous in my opinion. Almost as ridiculous as P Diddy saying “It is bigger than being billionaires, it’s about owning our culture and leading the revolution.” How can you honestly say that you, as a billionaire, are about a lead the revolution? The revolution must involve destroying our capitalist society which means that billionaires will lose their wealth and distribute it amongst the poor. There is no way to ‘lead the revolution’ without doing that.
It’s difficult seeing black Americans like Jay-Z and P Diddy being billionaires and wanting to achieve that same status through wealth while also knowing that our capitalist system in America was built on the backs of African slaves. Mo’Nique choosing to use her platform to stand up for inequalities is a step in the right direction. Not holding back to continue receiving the paycheck from the white man is great. But at the same time black celebrities need to realize that the revolution will involve destroying capitalism which will negatively impact them in the short term, but create life better for everyone in the long run. Should we try to be like Jay-Z and P Diddy and fight our way to the top of a inherently racist system or destroy it and create a new one that makes life better for all?