The headlines are all over the place, so we might as well dive into the shit. Revered actress, clothing designer and TV host, Gabrielle Union is stoically weathering the controversy stemming from the announcement that her high-profile gig as a judge on NBC’s titan staple, America’s Got Talent: The Champions, has come to an unceremonious end, amid rumors of internal strife.
When you dig deeper, there’s evidence of how Union was abruptly sidetracked and shamed, after demonstrating traits that confirm intolerability when it comes to classless jokes made by over-bloated White male celebs, who are simply responding to the appallingly toxic climate.
Former colleague, actress and dancer Julianne Hough was also dismissed from the popular talent show, but her preference is to deny the swirling rumors and allegations, and politely allow the Black woman to fight the good fight on her behalf.
We can go on and on about the rampant culture of inappropriateness that’s been instituted to sustain the practiced dysfunction, that reigns supreme in an industry that still has centuries to go before this virus is sufficiently vanquished.
But for now, let’s settle on the discontent of Gabrielle Union.
Her acute pain as the Black woman who was also cautioned by racist White TV executives for being “too black” because of her provocative appearance, thanks to militant hairstyles that are distractingly ethnic — is every Black woman’s targeted and harassed disposition.
I won’t ever forget the feeling of unworthiness that took hold after a recruiter back in the day, strongly recommended that I tame my wild thick hair before even contemplating being a representative of a job agency that prided itself for supplying quality candidates with professional presentations.
That memorable episode rallied my instinctual need to never deviate from my most primal desire to celebrate my naturalness, in all its uncivilized glory.
The natural hair movement took too long to be realized, and way before it was cool to step into the open air with the textured crown of bushiness, that’s devoid of chemical treatments and slabs of gel, this Black woman was willing to risk it all in the name of authenticity.
Family members and so-called friends labeled me “tragically unkempt,” and maybe the lack of access to the countless array of overly-priced hair products was my undoing, when it came to perfected grooming. But ultimately, the goal was to fight against the stifling climate that adhered to the globally viable currency of White beauty.
The payback was when the high stakes interview with the private bank of one of the most prominent financial institutions in the country became my reality, and I was tasked with selling my best assets without flaws.
I confidently made my entrance with a chemical-free Afro, that was strikingly not in accordance with the endorsed view of straight and sleek or curly and bouncy.
In the end, my carefree attitude won out!
My credentials spoke the truth, and my notable accessory only added to the depth of a complete package that was unapologetically Black, without the dilution that can’t save you from being judged for exactly what you are, under the wigs, weaves, and relaxers.
I recently watched a cringe-worthy clip from ABC’s The View, that featured a segment where co-host Meghan McCain defends her right to wear a plaited hairstyle to work, as a victimized privileged White woman, being unfairly accused of cultural appropriation.
The critics who are unapologetic about the implications of inequality, have earned the credentials to cry fowl when White women have the audacity to be validated as acceptable versions of the real thing.
We can also take it all the way there by identifying the approved White women for the culture that they’ve hijacked with gold-minted dollars and cents.
The Kardashian/Jenner women have made millions and billions by shamelessly poaching the aesthetic of oppressed originators.
This is an affront to Black women who don’t profit from lucrative cosmetic lines, celebrating the very features that they are are consistently devalued for, based on skin hue and the industry’s anointing, that celebrates womanhood without the infusion of Black femininity.
It appears that in order to be the Black woman that meets the requirements for White audience members who are particularly sensitive, you must be airbrushed by the brush of Whiteness, that makes those harsh features supremely delicate for the consumption of broadened palettes.
Imagine that Gabrielle Union, a full-fledged A-lister, who has more than paid her pricey dues as the ageless icon, who still resembles the heroine in the pop culture favorite Bring It On, has to endure the shit about how her Blackness poses a threat to the crippling cowardice of Whiteness at its worst.
As the breaking news graduated to viral, it was hard not to show solidarity with a Black woman, who embodies the exact DNA of public scrutiny, and mockery that we’ve all accommodated in unsafe spaces, that are notorious for exalting White women at the expense of their darker and equally talented counterparts.
The playbook rarely strays from the themes that are coerced to punish Black women for the very things that White women are able to manifest, with the added ammunition, that dictates the decision to be “Black” for one day or until kingdom come, without the complications and judgments to deface that demand for independence.
If I had the opportunity to cohost a recognized brand in the form of a popular Daytime TV show, as a Black woman who carries the burden of being a visible representative, the possibility that I would show up on set with a head full of cornrows would be contingent on the verified approval of the White powers-that-be.
The fact that Meghan McCain, was able to freely sport the hairstyle that gets Black kids dismissed from classrooms, and Black women automatically removed from the list of contenders for corporate employment, is the reason why the supremacy of Whiteness eventually catches up to those who worked hard enough to be immune to such vices.
We hear about this age of “diversity” and how White folks in the industry are finally being schooled about why Blackness is the reality that can’t be avoided.
But when we absorb the fuckery that caused Gabrielle Union to be ousted from the job that she excelled in, to the tune of epic ratings, we have to follow suit with the acknowledgment of how Black women will always play second fiddle to pathetic caricatures, who are White enough to be supremely Black for the bigots who call the shots.
And if the best of our best is getting trampled in these streets, then maybe we need to level the fuck up!
As Black women, who answer the call.