As my LIF AF Black History Month draws to a close, I feel beguiled by the topic of Mo'nique, her career, her (endlessly meme-mocked) Netflix boycott video, and her (in my opinion) overuse of the terms of endearment "my sista, my brotha".
A Facebook post spurred this post and while I feel that we're sort of beating a dead horse, I decided to toss my thoughts into the ring of social media opinions. The original poster cited an interview of Viola Davis remarking about her career, her inadequate payment and her oft referral as the "Black Meryl Streep". Now, I do not own rights to this footage, so it will not be shared on MsNaturallyRandom.com but you can definitely just Google it. #SorryNotSorry
The original poster asked, "What is the difference between Ms. Davis' speaking out about her experience with pay inequalities and Mo'Nique statement? Aren't they basically stating the same thing?" Essentially, why are "we" as a community lampooning one and not the other?
Woo--effin-sah! We're probably beating a dead horse here but the differences are many. I'll cite two and also give my opinion on why social boycotts of today do not mirror the success of physical boycotts of the past.
Number 1. Placement and Audience
Monique is making her statement from her living room and Viola is making it from a women-centered industry-specific forum. Time, Place, and Audience all matter when targeting an adversary (patriarchy and racism included).
She is now basically on a press tour to combatively argue with people that question her method of action. I sincerely understand her plight but I feel she didn't handle tackling it nor bringing awareness to it in the most strategic way. Resistance is never pretty and sometimes needs to be fought in an "ugly" manner but you shouldn't defame others in your attempt to ascend within your situations.
Number 2. Strategic Alliances
Mo' baby, that has to be a mighty big bus to capture all of the people you've publicly thrown under it. Viola stated a claim of inequity and found a way to do so that centered around her own attempt at the securing of "the bag" and didn't defame Meryl Streep in her statements. Mo'nique wasn't strategic in her fight. Also, I feel the mightiest blow to the fight for women's economic equality will always come from a coalition of women, not a single martyr (as she now is figuratively describing herself).
All of this controversy lands squarely on the topic of respectability politics. Which I understand the issues with that but we can't ignore that we all have learned, "you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar!" Yes, a person is judged due to their perceived reputation, their choice in use of language, attire, etc. It can suck depending on what you are trying to accomplish but you have to take that into consideration when you want people to align themselves with you and champion causes on your behalf. Mo'nique has centered herself as a spokeswoman for a worthy cause but her reputation of negatively speaking about others hurts her immensely. Also, I have often witnessed her use the terms "my sista/my brotha" when speaking to other person's of color online and in interviews. Its often used in a condescending way when she is on the losing end of a twitter-fingers rift. Those terms read to me as an attempt at faux kinship and feel, very much so, disingenuous. Is she self-serving and opportunistic? I can't actually say yes or no. Only Mo'Nique can speak of her motivations to step into to spotlight repeatedly.
Lessons I've learned here:
1. Find your intersectional tribe. You'll need people, dollars and a plan to see anything progress. 2. If I ever get rich, hire a qualified PR team and delegate my social media matters to them. There are probably slews of black-owned PR firms that through ingenuity and creativity can resurrect a "legend's" career. 3. Don't turn possible teammates into foes. *cough, cough Taraji*
Do you think Mo'nique's handling of the topic of pay inequalities for women and more specifically women of color will have an effect on how receptive audiences will be for future women as they pursue securing the bag?