Like many of you, when I heard that Gabrielle Union had been fired from America’s Got Talent, I was shocked.
Not only was she a delight on the show, but if it wasn’t for her and her social media presence, most folks wouldn’t even know what day or time it was on. Variety reported of the 25 million social media impressions the show received each week, approximately half were directly related to Union. That was all her. But instead of NBC thanking their lucky stars to have her grace their presence, they sent the 47-year-old packing.
But as we know everything eventually comes to light.
Days later reports surfaced not only providing details on why Union had been let go but the toxic environment she had to navigate on the AGT set. Apparently, she was deemed a problem and difficult for calling out Jay Leno for making a racist joke about Koreans, being aware to ask people their preferred pronouns, pushing back on the notion that a young Black rapper couldn’t relate to Americans and not wanting her boss, Simon Cowell, to ILLEGALLY smoke inside the building.
You know, every day #BlackWomenAtWork nonsense where wanting to do the right thing and speaking up for yourself and for others is a firable offense. That’s about white.
While it’s all incredibly infuriating, when reports surfaced that Union was allegedly told more than a dozen times that her hair was “too Black” for their audiences, I was actually hurt. Hurt for Union because she had to sit there and let these white folks at her job tell her in a series of rude passive-aggressive notes that because she changing her hairstyle every week was “too Black” for their apparently lilly-white audience. Hurt for all the other Black women and girls who have been told at the workplace or at school that their hair somehow breaks a dress code rule or is labeled a distraction for others around them. Finally, hurt for myself, who at that exact moment of reading that report, I was brought back to that moment in fourth grade when all the white kids laughed at me because my hair was “greasy.”
The rejection of our hair, the calling it out as some strange anomaly, is a trigger that feels like you’re being punched in the gut. Yet, we persist. And in Union’s case, like Black folks do, we flocked to Twitter sending her messages of love and support and pictures with the hashtag #BlackHairChallenge to showcase that our “too Black” versatile tresses are indeed beautiful.
While Union let us know that she felt all the love, we’re not done sending her more light. So let’s celebrate her even more by highlighting 20 times her crown and glory gave us our entire life!