“America’s Got Talent” is getting sued. Gabrielle Union — an ex-judge on the hit NBC talent competition show — filed a complaint in the state of California against both the producers of the show and the network itself.
Most interestingly, while NBC posted their support of #BlackLivesMatter, the show itself did not.
In her complaint filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Union alleged that the “America’s Got Talent” environment was “toxic.”
This has been a sentiment she’s shared in the press before. And she’s been buttressed by the support of some other former AGT judges, including Julianne Hough, who — like Union — didn’t return for a follow-up season of the show.
Union, a black woman, was singled out due to her physical appearance and discriminated against by NBC due to the fact that her hair did not fit within the white image that NBC apparently sought to convey to the audience of AGT. [A show producer] informed Union’s manager that her hair was ‘too wild’ and that it needed to be ‘toned down.
Union alleged that in addition to the producers of “America’s Got Talent,” she was subjected to discrimination by NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy, who issued “unspecified threats” to Union if she continued with her campaign.
While the network claims that their own “internal investigation” found no evidence of racism, Union’s husband Dwyane Wade defended his wife, and his family, vociferously on social media.
What’s most interesting of all is that NBC posted a tweet in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement on May 31.
“America’s Got Talent” did not.
It’s unclear which one is worse — the show’s seemingly blind refusal to acknowledge the worldwide civil unrest, or the network’s performative sop to #BlackLivesMatter.
But in truth, both are bad. Overt racism and covert racism are both racist. And NBC’s performative activism — while failing to acknowledge a black woman’s right to wear her hair the way she wants to because it’s “too wild” (really?) — is more evidence that white celebrities need to stop with the bravado and start listening to their black counterparts on what to do to make a difference.
“America’s Got Talent” would serve well to remember that America is a diverse country, and that black men and women are valued for more than just their ability to perform onstage for white men and women’s approval.
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