Last November, Gabrielle Union-Wade was fired from America’s Got Talent. This termination happened after Union-Wade reported sexist and racist behavior in the work environment. After this news went public, Union-Wade received tremendous support from the general public as well as fellow colleagues. So much so that NBC is currently conducting an investigation into America’s Got Talent to further explore Union-Wade’s concerns.
Last week, when asked for his thoughts on the situation, current America’s Got Talent host, Terry Crews had some comments.
“I can’t speak for sexism, because I’m not a woman, but I can speak on behalf of any racism comments,” Crews said. “That was never my experience on America’s Got Talent.”
He also added that the environment on set is “the most diverse place I have ever been in my 20 years of entertainment.” This statement serves as a complete denial of Union-Wade’s claims.
What seems like a simple disagreement is actually a much larger issue that has often profited Black men at the expense of Black women. Too often do we as Black men call on Black women to aid us in our times of need just to throw them under the bus the next day.
Two years ago when Terry Crews came forward as a sexual assault survivor, Gabrielle Union-Wade publicly offered him support. So why was Crews so quick to refute Union-Wade’s claims of a toxic work environment?
The short answer is privilege. Crews has the privilege to deny sexism. He has the privilege to avoid discussing “controversial” matters. He has the privilege to offer his opinion without worrying about his personal job security. And he knows this.
The longer answer is that Black men (like Crews) expect Black women to stand in solidarity over racial discrimination yet refuse to acknowledge gender discrimination specifically constructed against Black women.
Black women aren’t able to choose between being Black and being a woman. It’s about time that Black men recognize this. Choosing to speak out against racism but staying quiet once the topic of sexism arises is not solidarity. It’s faux social justice.
Performative wokeness only benefits oppressors.
Crews had the opportunity to publicly support Union-Wade and chose to do the exact opposite. His words would only appeal to the heads of NBC. Denying a toxic environment doesn’t benefit Black men and it definitely doesn’t benefit Black women. If anything, it causes unnecessary harm.
As Black men, it’s our responsibility to use our privilege to uplift our women. Using our privilege to further separate us from Black women is dangerous. This choice is rooted in a false perception of acceptance from the extra privileged (white people).
We need to do better. It’s unacceptable that we are consistently the weakest link. Black women deserve better. Gabrielle Union-Wade deserved better. If we aren’t willing to support our women, how can we expect them to do the same?