Long-running daytime offering, The Talk has resumed operations, after being on hiatus for about a month, following the controversial episode involving former cohost Sharon Osbourne’s explosive tantrum, while confronting fellow talker Sheryl Underwood, during a tension-filled segment.
Osbourne defensively lashed out when the conversation forced her to speak up for her embattled friend Piers Morgan, who abruptly left his job at Good Morning Britain over accusations of racist attacks against Meghan Markle.
The viral clip of a privileged white woman’s desperate attempt at centering her victimhood above the Black woman she claimed as a friend wasn’t received well, particularly when Osbourne had the audacity to berate Underwood for daring to showcase her sensitivity about the triggering subject of racism.
“Don’t try and cry because if anyone should be crying, it should be me.”
That wasn’t the first time Osbourne used the CBS sound stage as a vessel for abhorrent behavior towards targeted colleagues in her midst. Back when actresses Holly Robinson Peete and Leah Remini were invited to the table, Osbourne was outrightly disrespectful to both women. She infamously referred to Remini as “ghetto” as the cameras rolled, and also secretly made the same insulting reference while complaining about Peete.
Both Remini and Peete were let go from The Talk after only one season, which is proof of the leverage Osbourne had over the show’s producers, who were clearly willing to enable the problematic tendencies of a white employee, who was notorious for using derogatory language like “slant eyes” directed at former cohost Julie Chen.
The only reason why CBS took the time to initiate a bogus investigation that ultimately led to the overdue exit of Sharon Osbourne is because of the current climate of accountability, anchored by the social ire of influential platforms that can instantly make or break sturdy institutions that are no match for the dreaded cancel culture.
But even as the staple network embraced the activation of due process, there was still the homage to whiteness in the form of halting the trajectories of the remaining cohosts, who shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of what they were forced to witness and endure.
Osbourne should’ve been promptly suspended after her televised tirade that absolutely crossed the line in ways that presented triggers to the Black women sharing an infectious space that was allowed to fester for more than a decade, despite glaring signs of normalized inappropriateness.
CBS didn’t need to perform an extensive overview of Osbourne’s documented racism and open hostility towards former colleagues, who lost their coveted spots due to the scorn of a pampered troublemaker, who was white enough to freely wield her privilege.
For reasons that aren’t difficult to fathom, a mouthy white woman with a proven history of bigotry was able to avoid immediate dismissal for the bad behavior that shouldn’t be tolerated under any circumstances.
But the “Sharon Osbourne effect” flourishes in white-owned spaces, where decision-makers tend to be unreasonably lenient to those who are deemed more viable compared to Black counterparts who are deemed expendable.
Imagine the trauma of being unceremoniously cast out from a highly-visible gig, as an accomplished and talented Black woman like Holly Robinson Peete, who was the unfortunate victim of a toxic system that validated the scorn of a racist white woman by dutifully upholding Osbourne’s devious directives to do away with those “ghetto” hires.
The Talk’s first order of business for its long-awaited return to the schedule was to hold a group session with a guest mediator to properly hash out the griminess that the vacated instigator left behind.
And while it was somewhat fulfilling to hear Underwood thoughtfully express what she couldn’t safely vocalize in the presence of Osbourne’s blinding wrath, there was an undercurrent of dissatisfaction and fiery frustration that overtook my observation.
In order for prominent work spaces to function with the banner of inclusivity that provides protection for often times vulnerable employees of color, who have to battle unchecked favoritism that white coworkers rely on for security, complicit white managers must assume full responsibility for the damning roles they play in fostering these toxic environments.
It’s not enough to hide behind the cameras in the hopes that on-air talents can carry the heavy burden and do the dirty work of cleaning up the tainted image of renowned organizations, that can’t afford to lose viewership over a fixable malfunction.
Issues of race and inequality can’t be efficiently handled with the regimented superficiality that designates Black victims of white supremacy with the daunting task of thanklessly smoothing over inconsistencies, while guilty parties in the form of TV producers and higher, who practiced gross negligence are able to hide behind the curtain of their privileged stations.
The “Sharon Osbourne effect” is a harrowing experience that every Black employee working in prominent spaces, that exclusively cater to whiteness can attest to, and those episodes will not stop recurring until decision-makers at the top are diversified to help buffer the oppressive mechanics of whiteness.
But that means the media-at-large will have to face the pending issue of diversity and the REAL reason why it’s lacking — across the board.
And we know that’s NOT happening anytime soon.