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Well after reading this meme, it hit me. No time like the present to take a break. Just get away from the city, from the crowd noise and laughter, the deal and no deal of that perpetual hustle of urban reality. I needed to escape all that dizzying array of electric lights illuminating my every step to be with nature and take in real stars again. And so I did what for me seemed impossible. I left everything cozy and familiar in Southern California to travel to frigid New England at the beginning of snow season to find some new perspective in a place well outside my comfort zone. And that’s exactly what I needed. I allowed myself, with no little effort at first, to relax and unwind. I was at ease in a spacious beachside house overlooking Lake Champlain surrounded by fog and forest. With mind finally unbusy enough to rest, I got to appreciating where I was really at, physically, mentally and spiritually. I perched on my window seat sipping hot tea, looking out over choppy waves colliding with the skies mirror. Here I was in the middle of nowhere as winter descended without pause. Regardless of weather, and maybe because of it, I kept up my daily workout. Instead of familiar roads in the hills above sprawling Los Angeles, I ran along empty roads winding through winter trees and snowy pastures. Often times heavy fog gave way to freezing rain and then to snow, and by the time I returned it was just wind having its own way. Nature reminded me that this is what “keeping it real” actually means. Breathing up that good country air and overwhelmed in the lake forest’s perfect hush, I was reminded what harmony really felt like. Everything natural in its right place doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing – that’s harmony. My daily grind was wholesome. I’d taken a break, worked on my core and rediscovered my center. What was going to be a few days extended to weeks and before I knew it a whole month had passed. Packing up to return to the busy life, I accepted just what a toll that business claims from you, especially when you’re driven to succeed. It can be exceptionally challenging when your criteria of getting ahead is by doing, not trying, but actually accomplishing some function in life.
My lakeside sojourn didn’t end with any uncertainty. It wasn’t the present one looks forward to on their 50th birthday. A new president was sworn in and the cybersphere is wishing you the worst again. For all of you who like to take information and turn it into foreboding news I knew my contract wasn’t renewed months before anyone in the press did. If it hadn’t been for a little working rest and relaxation, that might’ve pissed me off, maybe even hurt my feelings. But it hasn’t. As they say, haters gotta hate. You can bark all you want, but nothing you think or say is going to throw me off my center. Everyone with an actual job in front of or behind the camera knows that’s always a possibility. Jobs in media always come to an end after they’ve fulfilled their milestones. We learn to manage expectations early. I don’t know how anyone cheering this new chapter (presumed failure) of my life of late missed out on the immensity of change Fox has undergone over the last year. Everything in television has a limited shelf life. That said, realities unique to the media industry aren’t built on intrigue and drama. There are many reasons contracts are not renewed. It’s business, straight and simple. Some of you lost in cyberspace think professionals are engaged in some overwrought plot of a telenovela. Nothing could be further from fact. I really enjoyed my stint as a contributor and take great pride in how well I executed my role as catalyst of change on a platform of my own construction. Yes, a door was opened to me, and what I did with that opportunity is uniquely mine.
People get it twisted. Emotionally stunted reactions in cyberspace typed out in a big hurry do not equate with opinions I have shared. They are not proportional. Haters are generally just repeating the same boring constructs again and again regardless of what the “story” is. Their disdain isn’t situational. They write the same comments on anything with my name on it. It’s their mindset. It’s their world view, not mine that can be assigned with ulterior motivations of hatred and disdain for black people. I never entertained any illusions when I decided to step up to the plate. I knew that bringing really uncomfortable topics into American living rooms during the Obama era wasn’t going to be smooth sailing. There would always be fools projecting their vindictive protectionism. Though to be perfectly honest, I could never have forecast the level of hostile groupthink that’s made itself so obvious over social media.
If I wasn’t genuinely proud of my ethnicity and race, if I didn’t love my own black family and friends and colleagues, if I didn’t find endless inspiration from black heroes like Frederick Douglass and Colin Powell, I would’ve been less shocked with the level of misplaced fury directed my way. I speak up because I am black and Mexican. I am proud of my ethnicity, my race and foremost my nationality. This is what makes each and every one of us individuals. Without all the above, those life experiences our perspective wouldn’t be uniquely our own. I decided I’d make it my responsibility to remind us all that Americans of African descent do not always think alike. I want for all to know that the old racist construct, that our emotional state renders us incapable of critical thinking, belongs to a different age. I’m here to tell you, and anyone reading this, that the fear of losing my status as an authentic black person is the last thing on my mind, and not because I don’t want to be black. I wouldn’t want to be anybody but who I am. I wouldn’t want to look like anybody else, and I would never trade in my brown skin. But it does not define me. The inane absurdity of the concept that being black is belonging to some sort of exclusive club is never lost on me.
I’m always going to be what I am, who I was born as, no matter what my opinion on any topic may be. I don’t hate myself for being black, so why on earth would I hate anyone else who shares common ancestry? What’s the point of that? No. What I’ve done, and will continue to do regardless, is to elevate dialogue about some difficult topics Americans have tended to walk all the way around rather than through. However absurd or self-hating some people assumed my commentaries might be, if I hadn’t lead the charge and shrugged off some societal conventions of previous eras, no one was going to bring the conversation we actually needed forth. This dialogue on concepts of racial identity and nationalism were brought to the forefront of pop culture at a moment in history when provocation was of necessity. It had to be scandalous to be considered relevant.
Jesters provoke – that’s their line of duty. When 24-hour news coverage is distracted with talentless celebrities famous for being famous and selling their own sex tapes, how on earth are we to elevate discussion on subjects that matter to American culture? We’re all getting choked out in the smog of television with no substance all too willingly. You may not have appreciated what I had to say or how I said it, but guess what,did you finally get some camera time while you were pose walking that exclusive carpet space? Haven’t you always wanted to be asked what you thought about something so you could talk into that microphone? Weren’t you ever annoyed that the media seems to run out of things to ask black and Latino performers and artists even while you’re all milling about in expensive haute couture you paid for on your relevance campaign? My commentary, however controversial, gave an opportunity to voice opinions about subjects that have traditionally been too hot or damned right taboo for prime time. When no one can speak from their experience without redundancy, meaningful conversation can’t happen. I burned my path through the urban jungle of mediocrity and claimed my place as a social commentator. It was exactly the right time and place to get the ball rolling. As we can all appreciate at this moment in political history, open dialogue about race and class is more critical now than ever before. We already had some rough introductions and worked out some flabby thinking. Times up…
Anyone that knows me will tell you I do not suffer fools gladly. I’m a girl from the South Bronx, who has always spoken what’s on her mind. I know exactly where I came from and just how far I’ve come, and I’m just getting started. I just wish I had ducked out of the cattle call a little earlier and stopped wasting my time on things that don’t matter. I decided one day after another Hollywood producer told me that I wasn’t “black enough” for a part that I was going to stop shaking my head and resignedly opine that “If I had ten dollars for every time someone told me I failed the race sweepstakes, I’d have my own apartment in Paris by now.” No. I decided I was going to stop complaining and being the victim to things way out of my control to do anything about. I would defy the paradigm within which I’ve been confined, and instigate a real conversation that will lead to more meaningful work in the industry I have already given a lifetime to. I decided against heading off on any direction that would tie me up with distractions, because it would compromise my platform. To maintain a space where people are less concerned with how well you’ve aged than what’s going on in your mind, or what you have to actually contribute to society.
I decided to seize a once in a lifetime opportunity. Haters gonna hate anyway, so I stayed true to myself. I built a platform and catalyzed dialogue on the really difficult subject matter of Race Relations in the USA. I would instigate heated discussion so that austere cultists of the Church of Celebritology might be obliged to speak out on culturally important matters, regardless of how sensitive they might be. And some will even wince when they see themselves for what they really are, posers trying on class like a pair of brand new shoes. Yes, I might be provocative and even end up endangering my popularity as an actress waiting on that job that employs actors to portray characters, not just window dressing to fill a quota.
Calling out hypocrisy in Hollywood won’t help you make friends, I know that much. I took this into consideration when I decided to wear the hat of a social commentator. These are things any actor might consider when stepping out of the designated role of performer who is by definition hired to portray a specific character. I wondered if I’d be shunned in the movie business for obvious political reasons, for the stance I’ve taken, for calling out the hypocrisy of liberal Hollywood. It isn’t, for the most part, an industry moved and shaken by conservatives. It is a liberal casting director and a liberal director and a liberal producer that make the determination of whether an actor or actress is “black enough” or “too black,” “Latino enough” or “not Latino enough.” It is a liberal movie business that uses racially coded language instead of coming right out with it. “Too Urban” is politically correct non-speak for, pick a minority because we all know that there aren’t any minorities in these works of fiction. It is a big powerful multi-billion dollar entertainment industry brimming over with self-identified democrats that chooses to give the white girl a magazine cover because she was so memorable in two scenes of some movie vehicle for an actor with a publicist and a fancy car. So yeah, I’m a little pissed off at all this finger pointing by the left calling republicans racists. There are plenty of bigots in the world, but if you assign the term racist to everyone that disagrees with the talking points you’re perpetuating, we run the risk of not recognizing acts of actual racism. And it is you that makes a fool of everything you stand for when you don’t realize the contradictions you’re so wrapped up in. Project away. I was made for the projection screen. I’m an actress after all.
So who is holding “us” back? Frankly I don’t feel we are moving backward. I’m not buying that, because I refuse to be held back by anyone. I don’t care what color they are. Ignorant people will always try to suppress winners, but none of us, regardless of our skin color, are entitled to ignorance due to racial heritage alone. That’s the definition of prejudice. Yes, there are people that think that way, but unless you do personally, you’re riding on the wrong float in the wrong parade. You can always step off and join the crowd of like-minded individuals. If you don’t like the crowd, leave the crowd. Or challenge them, inspire them, grow their minds. We live and die in the moment, after all.
Let me leave off with a few things to ponder. When I stood on that stage at the Academy Awards to the horror or bafflement of my peers and “A-list luminaries,” I breathed up all the oxygen many were unwilling or incapable of inhaling. When you glared at me with astonished horror at seeing me standing there, where I’d never even been invited before, were you wondering if the expiration date has passed when black people were the de facto stand-in for inclusion when a “minority” is missing from a motion picture or series? I haven’t seen too many of us fighting the good fight on behalf of East Asians or Polynesians, much less Native Americans who are represented even less than blacks. Does it piss you off when I state the obvious, that you weren’t all that concerned that there is no diversity in film when it’s only black actors with black careers that matter?
And let me help you get yourself untwisted in your hating. I was getting conflicted and a little bored with all the cyber jabbing and sound bites. I’d become a caricature of myself and on purpose. But all of you who invested so much time and energy HATING, you spoke the contents of your soul. You’ve revealed to the world what you think of people that disagree with your perspective. You’ve freely contributed your own social commentary on cyber bullying and playing the part of a racialist menace with mastery. I’ve done my job, for now.
Wrap your collective group think around this. Hateful ignorant opinions – just prove that, when people are in too much of a rush to repeat something ignorant, they end up revealing themselves to be everything they’re projecting onto another person! Slow down and improve your argument. Don’t rush to judge other people, lest you be judged yourself.