By now you may have heard about how award-winning actor and comedian Mo’Nique came for the wigs of Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry, and Oprah Winfrey during a recent stand-up routine.
The nature of the beef stems from a situation that occurred during the time Mo’Nique starred in the Lee Daniels-directed and Oprah Winfrey/Tyler Perry-produced film Precious, for which Mo’Nique won numerous awards and critical acclaim. Daniels claimed that Mo’Nique was not suitably humble and grateful for the access she was granted, and he chastised her for not playing the “Hollywood game” that would garner her more accolades and more money. In other words, Lee didn’t understand why Mo’Nique wasn’t willing to sell out like he did because he could testify to the fact that selling out is lucrative.
Mo’Nique said she was good on that and that she couldn’t sell any more of her soul than she already did and she had other priorities — including being a better mother to her children — that took precedence over promoting a film that made over $60 million when they only paid her $50,000 to do it.
As a result, Mo’Nique was “blacklisted” by the industry. When this disagreement became public, many spectators took Mo’Nique to task for choosing life over money — and for being a free, autonomous black woman who makes her own decisions when Massa has other plans.
Many people felt as though Tyler, Lee, and Oprah were only looking out for Mo’Nique’s best interests and that she should listen and make that rich-white-man kind of money and be glad that she has the chance to. They want her to “shut up and be obedient.” They want her to “stop harping on this situation” and “let it go.” They want her to stop “playing the victim.”
But I’ve been on Mo’Nique’s side with this for a while. Here’s why:
And yes, Oprah has some problematics surrounding her too, but I still fucks with Oprah because I think her good outweighs her bad — and I know that makes me a hypocrite. 😊
But I don’t care that Mo’Nique has been talking about this situation for years. I don’t care that she’s positioning herself as the victim. Her comedy remains enlightening about how black folks can, for whatever reasons, justifiable or not, emulate white supremacist modes and models. I can’t detect a single lie in anything she’s saying.
Most importantly, I’ve seen her growth.
The growth I’ve seen in her is in watching her go from complicit in what she’s critiquing to adversarial to what she’s critiquing. I’ve seen her go from slightly blaqueerantaognistic to inclusive. Does she still have some sociopolitical growth to do? Yes, of course. As any of us do. But unlike Lee or Tyler, Mo’Nique actually seems willing to do it. And in front of us.
What I see in some of the backlash against her is pure respectability politics:
“Girl, don’t you know Massa can hear you? Shush now!”
“Who does this fat, ugly, ghetto, dark-skinned black b*tch think she is?”
“She betta be lucky someone gave her low-budget ass a platform!”
She betta be grateful!”
But fuck all of that anti-Blackness disguised as pro-Blackness.
All fucking day.