Mo’Nique and Adrienne Bailon are about as far away from each other as Los Angeles is to Tokyo.
Where their lives do intersect is within the confines of womanhood and how they’ve made a way for themselves on a public stage–which both have done successfully. They are both also women of color.
But here’s the disconnect: Mo’Nique has never and will not ever, oblige to respectability politics. Point blank, period. And this is something Adrienne Bailon asked her to do on a recent taped segment of “The Real.”
The comedienne has used her comedy show as a platform recently, to stir up years-old beef among the holy Black trinity in entertainment: Oprah, Tyler Perry and Lee Daniels. Mo’Nique’s issues with them derive from the aftermath of her Academy Award winning turn as a broken, desolate and despicable mother in “Precious.”
Mo’Nique claims that after the movie, she fell out with director Lee Daniels during the film’s press rounds after he called her “difficult.” She says afterwards, her life and career in Hollywood were never the same and accuses Oprah and Perry for playing a role in it.
The most problematic thing that Mo’Nique did was sprinkle tedious amounts of homophobia in her description of Perry. As uncomfortable as it makes me, the root is that her experience is her truth.
Now back to where Adrienne Bailon comes into play. “The Real” host used her show to not only encourage Mo’Nique to “keep it real” in a more “classy” way, but also called her “loud and boisterous,” for doing so.
And here is why what Adrienne said was taxing.
Black women are constantly told that they are “too loud,” “too bold.” To quote Michaela Angela Davis, who appeared as a guest on an episode of our weekly series “Chick Chat,”” Black women are disruptive.” We evoke boundless energy and persistence, but for some reason it must be contained and we are taught this at an early age by our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and by society.
And, as a woman of color Bailon knows this, which is why her comments are tiresome.
We no longer have time in Black America, or communities of color, to confine one another to White ideals of acceptance. As Bailons’ co-host Lonnie Love pointed out–Mo’Nique said what she said at her own comedy show. And if you expect comics to use language that weans from being offensive, let me know when you come across one. To be clear, there are things you cannot say and pass off as comedy. Ask “Seinfeld” star, Michael Richards, who thought using the n-word on stage would go over well. It didn’t.
Bailon is a recently married woman to Israel Houghton, a conservative pastor. And sometimes as women, we prescribe to our partner’s way of life to seem more accessible, or simply, less “offensive.” I find that since Bailon’s dive into holy matrimony, she seems more likely to curb her comments to more align with her husband’s values, which is her prerogative of course.
But while she does have every right to comment on what she finds offensive, it does not give her the right to ask a woman of color to remain on mute, especially one who has made a career out of using her pain, passion, triumph and tragedy as antidotes to make us laugh.