In this great American pie that we're all a part of, it's fair to say that we all want a piece. As Black women, we are taught to be grateful for our portion, say our grace, and to most importantly, mind our manners and say "thank you." If we ask for a bigger slice, we're called "greedy," or worse, "difficult," as though fighting for our fair share is an act of treason. Although this rhetoric remains dominant in our society, anyone who thinks that women are meant to be seen and not heard is in for serious reality checks from one of the Original Queens of Comedy.
It's been a tumultuous few years for Mo'Nique, who in that time has taken on industry giants like Lionsgate and Netflix, and started an important conversation about the pay gap that exists for women of color in the process. After winning an Oscar for her role in Precious in 2015, and making some controversial statements about powerhouses Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, and Lee Daniels, Mo'Nique claims that she was unfairly blackballed from the entertainment industry.
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
Last year, the comedian made headlines when she was featured on The View and The Breakfast Club after calling for a nationwide boycott of Netflix due to pay inequality. The comedian alleges that the streaming service offered her a great deal less than her counterparts (including Amy Schumer and Chris Rock), solely based on her identity as a Black woman.
Although some claim that the comedian has added unnecessary strain on her career for the sake of making a point, others (including myself) feel that Mo'Nique's battle is an important one to fight.
Don't get me wrong, I love me some Amy Schumer. But in what world does Amy Schumer get paid more than a comedy legend? Nah, son. Auntie Mo' recently sat down with former comedian and long-time friend, Steve Harvey, to give the world her side of the story. Watch the breakdown:
The interview, which left a bad taste in my mouth before I was even able to get to the :30 second mark, began with Steve explaining how problematic Mo'Nique has been in the public eye. Monique told Steve:
"I said 'no' to some very powerful people."
Too often are Black entertainers told to sit down, shut up, and entertain, which is exactly what Mo'Nique is going through right now. During the interview, it became abundantly clear that our old Uncle Steve (twice removed), wasn't quite getting the point. He argued:
"When you tell the truth, you have to deal with the repercussions of the truth. We Black out here. We can't come out here and do it any kind of way we want to. ... This is the money game. This ain't the Black man's game, this ain't the white man's game. This is the money game!"
This is true, Unc. We are Black out here. Which makes it that much more important that we stand up and open our mouths when we face injustice. Money can't buy equality, brother. Before I could even articulate my feelings to devise the ultimate clap back in my head, Mo'Nique offered the perfect response and said what we were all thinking:
"Before the money game, it's called the integrity game. And we've lost the integrity worrying about the money."
Steve then made a powerful point, explaining that it is impossible to fight darkness with darkness. To that, she responded:
"What we can do is cure it with comedy. And what I'm not going to do, Steve, I'm never, ever gonna waiver from my comedy show on that stage. That's my gift and that's my freedom. And what happens is when you allow people to start taking your freedom and your gift and making it become what makes them comfortable, we then lose."
Preach it, Auntie.
Now I'm a woman who's all about a bag; I live for a check honey. But never, ever will I let a check dilute my beliefs or sully my integrity, and I think that those were Monique's sentiments exactly. I can only speak for myself when I say, I'm not the easiest person to work with. I've been told that I can be hard to please and could use a reality check from time-to-time, hell, nobody's perfect. But I take tremendous pride in my work and I truly believe that I'm a beast at what I do. No amount of money that's offered to me by a man can trump that. Periodt.
The Bible says do not cast your pearls before swine, so if you're in a position where your value is being challenged, it's okay to walk away. Your gifts are valuable, and you are deserving of everything you desire, even if you are "difficult." Take it from Mo'Nique, who recently made history as the first Black comedian to have a residency in Las Vegas, no one man can stop your bag when God gives you a gift and you walk in that truth.
When men stand up for themselves in the face of oppression, they are called courageous and brave. So why is it that when women demand the same reciprocity, we are berated for our attitudes toward equality and labeled "difficult"? Know that you are not alone, Mo'Nique, and on behalf all of the other difficult women that are reading this, we stand with you in your fight for the respect that you deserve.
Featured image by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images.
Watch the full clip from the show below!
Mo'Nique and Steve Get Real: Part 1 www.youtube.com