Why can’t Mo’Nique be “Classy” and Move On?

Stop Policing how Black Women Respond to Bullshit

Image from IndieWire

Quick Answer: Because that’s not what the hell she feels like doing.

If a Black Woman is angry, perhaps it’s because she has a reason to be angry. How bout that?

Ladies, you are all my girls, but this isn’t about all of us.

Yes, women in general, are burdened with the expectation that we be quiet, docile, polite, and apologetic. However, White women get the benefit of the doubt that they are all of those things, that they are lady-like, gentle, timid, and afraid. Whereas the Black woman is assumed to be angry, confrontational, and overreacting, so we wear a specific burden on our skin.

We wear that burden in every way that we’re policed. We wear it in our body language, in our smile, in our clothes, in the way we do our hair or our nails. We wear it everywhere. Even when someone has confronted us, attacked us, when our rights have been trampled over, when something outlandish has been done to us, even when we are more than justified in whatever emotion we’re feeling, we have to take the time to censor ourselves and filter our responses because everything we say and do in response to bullshit thrown at us, gets treated as a disproportionate reaction.

There are struggles we all share as women, and there are struggles that we don’t.

“The Angry Black Woman” is a specific burden that tends to order the steps of Black women and limit the way we’re allowed to express ourselves. There is a significant weight and frustration carried when you know that as a Black woman you do not get the benefit of the doubt. You know that if you get into any kind of argument, disagreement, or otherwise defend yourself, God-forbid it’s with a woman that’s not Black, you will spend the majority of the aftermath trying to convince whoever the listener is that you were not the aggressor or that the disagreement was unavoidable because the assumption is that you’re a human pit-bull, while other women are flowers.

Everything we do is an issue. If we’re happy, we’re too loud and ghetto. If we’re not smiling, we’re threatening. If we speak, we’re confrontational and we’re always the aggressor. If we stay silent, then our body language is hostile and intimidating.

Not only is this our burden and our burden alone, but non-Black women play a significant role in maintaining these shackles around the Black woman.

Every time a Black woman doesn’t apologize for having a dissenting opinion, merely speaks above a whisper, asserts herself, or doesn’t smile when she speaks; and a non-Black woman stares back at her with manufactured fear in her eyes or replies like she has a frog in her throat when no one has threatened her safety, she immediately paints herself as the damsel in distress and the Black woman as her attacker. That’s how you became apart of the bullshit.

I say this to explain why this particular piece is not a one-woman-fits-all. Non-WOC did not create this system but they do take their cut of the profits. This is about the road where race and gender intersect to bite Black women in the ass.


In the most recent episode of Black Women can’t have a reaction without being told how they should react, let’s talk about Adrienne Bailon’s comments on The Real, about comedian and bad-ass actress, Mo’Nique.

Rumor has it that Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry, and Oprah participated in black-balling Mo’Nique in Hollywood after she had requested to be paid to promote the movie Precious when she was nominated for an Oscar, which she subsequently won.

I don’t know any of these people and I don’t work in Hollywood, so I don’t know if Mo’Nique’s allegations are true. But what matters is that she believes them to be and what she believes dictates how she’s going to act.

If you are Mo’Nique and you’ve been bussing your ass as a comedian and actress for over 20 years and after you delivered an Oscar-worthy performance, you believe that in response to requesting you be paid for a service (promotion), your peers decided to BLACK-BALL you, as in, prevent you from working and making money in the industry you’ve been in for over 20+ years, why wouldn’t you be mad?

I ask again, why wouldn’t you be mad?

Being black-balled is not the same as someone saying they didn’t like your movie or even that they don’t like you. It means I don’t like you, therefore I’m going to ensure that my dislike for you will translate into preconceived notions that prevent you from getting work altogether.

Like I said, I don’t know how true these allegations are but I do know that (1) Monique has been in only a handful of movies and TV shows since Precious premiered in 2009, so do with that information what you please, and (2) if these allegations are true, then being angry seems natural.

So, presumably after having a hard time in Hollywood since 2009 and being relatively silent on the issue for about 8 years, in her most recent standup, Mo’Nique took flight on Lee Daniels, Oprah Winfrey, and Tyler Perry for their role in what she called “white-balling” her. She cursed, yelled, and said what she felt, like any and every other raunchy adult comic does about every single thing thing, in their stand-ups.

However, this was made into a big deal simply because (1) Mo’Nique is a Black woman so she’s not allowed to feel some type of way without someone feeling threatened or policing her language, (2) because there’s some unspoken rule that we can’t criticize Black heavy-hitters like the likes of Lee Daniels, Oprah Winfrey, and Tyler Perry (which is bullshit), and (3) because Black Hollywood doesn’t want to risk missing out on any of the few roles available to them, so they’re prepared to throw Mo’Nique under the bus as not to offend Black Hollywood’s Holy Trinity.

That brings me to The Real and Adrienne Bailon’s remarks about Mo’Nique.

Let me take this time to say that I watch The Real, (although not so regularly since they axed Tamar Braxton), so I know good and well that Adrienne Bailon is a self-proclaimed loud mouth drama queen, so I’m not sure if this newfound hypocrisy is a result of something new in the water she’s sipping or if this is a part of her new, I’m-married-to-a-Gospel singer thing, but she better sit down and be humble.

She criticized Mo’Nique for not “keeping it real” by way of “being classy.” She asked “why can’t keeping it real be let me hold my peace and let me move on?” She asked “why can’t keeping it real be ‘you know what, they may have done that, but I’m going to respect that and move on?” She criticized Mo’Nique’s use of curse word, suggested alternative ways Mo’Nique could communicate her frustrations, and how she, Adrienne Bailon prefers to hear people express their grievances. There was a whole lot of Adrienne’s likes and dislikes about language and how Mo’Nique should’ve conformed to that. As though anybody cares how Adrienne believes Mo’Nique should communicate how Mo’Nique feels.

In response to Loni Love’s repeated attempts at defending Mo’Nique and female comics in general without having to tell her co-host to shut the fuck up, Adrienne’s response was “but shouldn’t it be funny then?” Because now, if Adrienne isn’t personally amused by a comedian’s jokes or brandy of comedy, that somehow means it’s not comedy and the comic no longer has the free will to perform in the way any comic typically could.

Here’s the answer to all Adrienne’s bullshit why this and why not that: Because Mo’Nique didn’t want to. That’s not how the fuck she felt. She has the right to speak her piece however she feels like it.

Beyond the fact that she’s a comic and a grown-ass woman so she reserves the right to curse and be crass in her stand-ups to her own audience that does enjoy her comedy, in the same way any male comic would be allowed to, even if she were just ranting in a vlog as opposed to a stand-up, she would still be entitled to be openly mad as hell if she felt she was wronged. That’s how she feels.

If Adrienne was critiquing the validity of Mo’Nique’s allegations, that would be one thing. But she has no knowledge as to whether the allegations are true, her argument instead is that even if they are true, “why can’t keeping it real be ‘you know what, they may have done that, but I’m going to respect that and move on?”

WHAT?!

First, if it is true, then Mo’Nique has experienced a harm that gravely impacts her career, so she can be mad.

Second and more importantly, the harm would be that she is BLACK-BALLED. So, MOVE ON TO WHAT, Adrienne?!

Mo’Nique’s gripe is that their actions have prevented her from moving on with her career, so that’s her very issue, SHE CANNOT MOVE ON. That is the reason classy is not relevant and keeping it real can’t be moving on.

Maybe, keeping it real requires someone to get cursed out once in a while. Maybe it doesn’t. Or, maybe it just means allowing Black women the same freedom of speech to speak about their struggles as everyone else, without someone trying to censor them or say they aren’t classy.

There is not one kind of person in this world, there’s not one kind of experience, there’s not one kind of reaction, so why should Adrienne Bailon or anyone else get to question why Mo’Nique reacts to her problems or expresses her emotions the way she chooses?

Why should Mo’Nique or any other Black woman, have to filter how she’s feeling in order to seem “classy” to the likes of Adrienne Bailon or whatever other non-Black woman gets in on the bullshit. (I’m talking to you Jeannie Mai, I heard you band-wagoning Adrienne, you not low.)


Lastly, I’m not here for silencing Black women by expecting them to prove the validity of their experiences to you.

Like me, no host of the real knows whether Mo’Nique’s allegations were true. However, when discussing it, each host felt compelled to repeatedly mentioned that they’d met one, two, or all members of the Black Trinity, and they were just so nice, wonderful, what have you, versus Mo’Nique was vulgar in her language choice.

So?

First, interacting with someone briefly on one or two occasions in no way gives you insight into their character as a whole. It does not tell you every thing they may or may not have done. It does not give you license to challenge the validity of the allegations against them. Even if you knew them personally on a much deeper level, you still don’t know.

More importantly, it’s certainly not relevant whether you find them nice and whether Mo’Nique seems angry and crass to you. It doesn’t mean what she’s saying is untrue and it doesn’t mean she shouldn’t communicate what she’s feeling in the way she wants to.

I cannot understand how Tamera Mowry, Jeannie Mai, and Adrienne Bailon, having previously interviewed Tyler Perry for 5 minutes on The Real and finding him “wonderful,” pertains to whether he may or may not have black-balled Mo’Nique and whether Mo’Nique should be expressing that in her stand-up.

I’m not here for it.


You don’t have to like the way Mo’Nique or any other Black woman expresses themselves, but you don’t get to police the way we expresses ourselves, you don’t get to discredit us, you don’t get to suggest there’s a right or wrong way for us to tell our own stories, and you damn sure don’t get to criticize us and tell us we should be silent because that’s what you would prefer.

A Black woman’s voice is her own and the way she uses it to express her own experiences is neither wrong nor right, it just is.