A moment of silence and a prayer to the social media gods for Nancy Lee Grahn, who couldn’t stand for “How To Get Away With Murder” lead Viola Davis to have a platform on Emmy night. This soap opera actress, who suddenly popped out of relative obscurity, earned instant recognition after countering Davis’ heartfelt contention that we need more roles for Black women.
Pish tosh, thought Grahn, upon whom the point was clearly lost that it took nearly 70 years for a Black woman to win the Emmy for leading actress in a dramatic series category. Among the pieces of pure nonsense this General Hospital denizen spewed across the Interwebs, included a suggestion that Shonda Rhimes should write Davis’s speeches from henceforth. And it got even better as the protect-my-privilege police called a raid on Davis’s assertions.
"Try being any woman in TV,” Grahn aka Twitter Fingers, typed. “Wish she'd brought every woman in the picture. I wish I'd opportunity to play roles she gets."
Really, ma’am? You were hankering to play a maid in “The Help.”
I don’t need to rehash it, but let’s just say Twitter got all up in her posterior like a tight pair of underwear. Like many before her bowed by the pure comedy, she apologized, but not before she dug her online grave a foot or two deeper. She opined:
"Viola Davis winning lead actress Emmy's historic. My upset is acting awards don’t fix racial injustice. As an actor I see how irrelevant we r. I never mean to diminish her accomplishment. She is a goddess. I want equality 4 ALL women, not just actors."
As my astute younger sister, Kozi, balked at this particular remark: Why is that people feel the need to ‘autocorrect’ when a Black person makes a statement about race in America?
I almost fell out of my office chair. (Good thing I didn’t, as I’m wearing a skirt.)
Still, it was the perfect analogy that fits any situation.
Nicki Minaj experienced it when the walking human tongue known as Miley Cyrus decided to let the rapper know the acceptable way of asking for more diversity among MTV Award winners.
This uninvited lesson in pre-award decorum led to the glorious “Miley, what’s good?” comeuppance. I was sure we’d go at least three months without a major incident from The Establishment, but as Grahn demonstrates, the lesson didn’t stick.
Not only that, let’s also discuss how this inclusiveness is rarely reciprocated, particularly in Hollywood. How many times have we seen a token White friend inserted into shows from “The Parkers” to “Eve,” but “Friends,” “Sex and the City,” “Seinfeld,” and “Girls” got away with a lily-White New York. Publicly, comics including the alluded to-Jerry Seinfeld have bristled at notions that they work with, feature, or in any way address actors of color mumbling something about merit. Even my former bae, Matt Damon, inserted his greenlit foot into his mouth trying to explain to the “Dear White People” producer how to go about getting some color in front of, and behind, the scenes.
It’s not limited to Hollywood, the notorious land of milk and homogeny. How many times did Iggy Azalea bop her untalented buns up to a podium to snatch an award from a much more qualified entertainer of hue? Only when this walking fail began to speak gibberish at concerts and go to war with hip-hop legends (Q-Tip included) on Twitter did anyone stop to wonder why this I-Dream-of-Jeanie-meets-Lil-Kim fembot was being allowed to not only snatch, but obliterate, all shine from her peers.
I am absolutely flu-symptom level sick of this type of nonsense, and the constant (as my sister coins it) auto-correct that goes on when Black people rightfully complain about something pop-wise or politically. The most heinous incarnation of this attitude is in the notion that Black Lives Matter is somehow denying the viability of all others who draw breath when it is painfully and disgustingly obvious why this hashtag was created.
That’s why it seems imperative that we strike at this false, self-serving “ALL” insertion with furious anger every time it rears its stupid, selfish head. Playing dumb is not going to get it, folks, and if you’re so upset about racial discrimination being mentioned, imagine what it’s like to experience it.
My parting advice to Grahn and others like her waiting in the wings is simple: Leave the auto-correct to your smart phone. Davis knew what she was saying. And so do the rest of us.