THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FALL FOR ANYTHING
For months there was a bit of a public shaming attempt at getting SNL creator Lorne Michaels to hire a black woman comic. It had been a number of years since the cast reflected the diversity of the country and one of the black male comics didn’t want to perform female characters in drag anymore. SMH. I was very wary about SNL hiring a random black comedienne with no parameters. Not to mention that SNL was never that diverse, especially compared to other sketch comedy shows like Mad TV (see Deborah Wilson for the level of quality SNL “could not find”). I tuned the show out years ago given I was NOT represented – and if we’re going to give an honest evaluation – when were black women really represented well there?
With much fanfare, SNL announced they were adding a new black woman writer AND performer. A two-fer!! Call me unimpressed, as their recent additions weren’t going to compel me to automatically start watching. Behind the scenes talk had indicated SNL had auditioned numerous funny ladies for several years but would ignore them when it came to making a hiring decision. There was even some intentional deflection and insulting speculation (by the performing dummy in drag) that black women were somehow not qualified! Given that sense of disdain and the poor quality of the black male talent they have on the show, I’m not sure they want stellar talent since the attention could serve as a launching pad to an enterprising performer.
I’m writing about this now because I saw a LOT of complaining on various social media feeds this weekend about the insulting skit by Leslie Jones where she referenced being a slave and rape of black women in a dismissive, joking manner. Perpetual baby momma, mistress, dysfunctional, pretty on the outside but a train wreck morally is not entertaining to me. When you don’t control the venue you’re just The Help. When you don’t use common sense, produce work that encourages self-pride the only thing left is a farce. Hiring some random black people doesn’t mean it won’t be racio-misogynistic or pro-black.
I wish I could say I was disappointed, but I’m not surprised.at.all.
Call it “black woman gets a tv gig and it’s all about some mess” fatigue, but I can’t celebrate hollow victories that are often Trojan Horses in disguise. Sure enough, it didn’t take long for the more sinister purpose for this recent hire to reveal itself. It’s as if Lorne Michaels said, “You want a black woman on SNL. Well, here ya go! Meet Aunt Jemima!!”
Had a black male comedian or a white comedian of any gender done this, people would have been howling in protest.
Given the #Bring Back Our Girls rallies this weekend and the media campaign drawing attention to the nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped and sold into sex trafficking (as “brides”) by terrorists, making jokes about black females and rape is especially heinous.
I’ve noted since I began editing this yesterday that NBC has pulled the link due to the negative press as this story is picked up, but here it is on Hulu.
THIS is the plan. If they show us, it’s going to be in the MOST derogatory light or have us completely marginalized.
We don’t work together, we support garbage and we’re silent when we need to be vocal. Or we protest the wrong things.
The asexual Mammy persona in full effect.
It seems as if the only discussion was in having SNL hire a black woman, not in vetting one for quality. Or any of the blacks employed on the show. And if the so-called “black elite” gets blamed for this or someone complains about “respectability politics” they need to be tarred and feathered!!
So you know what to do: TUNE OUT.
It was offensive enough that many non-blacks were ALSO disgusted. Which was the point. Make people regret the hire, so no one complains about the subsequent permanent erasure of black women.
Here’s an example of a more appropriate skit.