Love You Mo'Nique, But No

Dear Mo’Nique,

A little over a month ago you asked us all to stand with you and boycott Netflix for gender and racial bias. You laid it all out and showed us the low-ball offer they extended to you to do a comedy special on their streaming platform and told us what others were offered by comparison. Since thatmonique time, you and your offer have been the subject of much conversation, debate, memes and even ridicule.

But I see you Sis! In the past few weeks you have been making the rounds promoting your shows and explaining your position but also punching back at the haters and LETTING FOLKS HAVE IT – comparing Charlemagne The God from The Breakfast Club to the slave wife’s husband in Birth of a Nation and calling out your black brothers and sisters for being less supportive than white conservative radio hosts Bernie and Sid.

Sis, I hear you, and I assure you that’s not what this is.

If you feel that the offer they extended was unfair and not befitting a performer of your caliber, by all means, walk away, I'm with you. If you feel they unjustly ended negotiations, by all means, call them out, I'm with you. But when you call upon us to boycott you have to give us space to ask why and room to say no if we don’t agree.

For the record I support people and causes that I believe in - I ain't scared. I try to be conscious of how I represent myself and my values in all that I do. So this ain’t about me refusing to boycott because I haven’t finished watching Season Two of Stranger Things (because of course I have).  I’m just saying that I don’t take the call to arms lightly because I know that our collective voices, our dollars, our support and our boycotts can and has caused significant change in our world. Protests are not to be played with.

But Sis, I can’t boycott with you and here’s why.

Supporting You Means I Can’t Support Others - Boycotting Netflix to support you keeps me from being able to support other actors and performers. It means I can’t support Dave roxanne-and-niaChappelle (who is Invited), Chris Rock, DeRay Davis (ChiTown!), and other actors and comics who are and will be featured on Netflix. And, not to mention the I just saw a trailer for a movie about Roxanne Shante starring Nia Long and fellow Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. Mo, I gotta support. It’s been a good while since I have seen my homegirl Nia (who is of course Invited) . . . and it's a movie about Roxanne Shante . . . that features brother Mahershala . . . now that's just good for the culture, wouldn’t you agree? And besides, supporting the Roxanne Shante movie shows Netflix and Hollywood at large that our stories are viable, interesting and that they deserve to be funded and supported. I think we showed that in a big way in our support of Black Panther, Girl’s Trip, and even Almost Christmas. We have to show up for the things we say we want to see or else they won’t exist. Surely you wouldn’t ask us to support you and not support them.

I Don’t Agree – I have seen and heard the interviews and I just simply don’t agree that there was racial bias – Dave and Chris are both black and received $20 million dollar offers. I don’t agree that there was gender bias because as you have told us, Amy Schumer a relative new-comer by comparison received $13 million dollars. But to say that they wouldn’t offer you the same because you’re an African-American woman is nothing more than speculation.  There could be numerous reasons for their offer – your reputation in Hollywood, the amount work you’ve done in the past few years, the anticipated viewership, any of that it is possible. But, all that is speculation too since we weren't in the room. There could certainly be another reason that not many people have mentioned . . . maybe they just weren’t all that interested to begin with . . . despite what they may have said. Maybe they only entertained it because you are a veteran comedienne and an Academy Award winner. Maybe this wasn’t about devaluing all black women. Maybe it was personal.

But, Here’s What I Can Do – As a business, Netflix, Shmetflix, or any other company has the right to do business with whomever they want; however, the beautiful thing is . . . not all paychecks have to come from Netflix (even though they seem to be passing out checks left and right). If they don’t acknowledge your worth, boo to them. Even though I don’t agree with a boycott. I do support your right to speak out and to be heard, and certainly your right to not be disrespected.  If you were to do a special for another streaming platform or a cable channel, I'm there. Or if you decide to START YOUR OWN to create your own pathway like Jay-Z with Tidal or start small and grow large like, dare I say, Tyler Perry, I'd support that and you. I know Tyler's not on your guest list for anything these days but he's shown us all how creating your own opportunities is the way to truly show people your worth . . . so that their offers don't even matter.

I know it's easier said than done, but imagine it. It could be the greatest comeback story in Hollywood . . . and I'm here for it.


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