Gabrielle Union seemingly slammed her former employers at America’s Got Talent during a female empowerment and inclusivity panel Monday December 16, marking the first time she has alluded to her controversial firing in public.
“Don’t be the happy negro that does the bidding of the status quo because you’re afraid. Don’t allow them to call you angry when someone else is called passionate. It’s terrifying. There’s a solid chance you’ll lose your job ... I speak from experience,” she told the panel, although she never mentioned America’s Got Talent by name.
As RadarOnline.com has reported, Union, 47, got the ax in November, along with co-judge Julianne Hough. One week later, a report by Variety claimed that while on the show, Union expressed concerns over racially-insensitive experiences, but nothing was done.
Union allegedly also blew the whistle on various acts of sexism on set. According to Variety, both she and Hough, 31, were given “excessive notes” on their appearance, and Union was told that her changing hairstyles were “too black.”
The allegations have sparked ongoing investigations, and at Monday’s panel, titled the Power of Inclusivity and the Women Leading the Charge, Union encouraged others to speak up if they feel they have been wronged, even if there is the risk of losing your job.
“Do your best because corporations want global dollars,” Union continued. “Do your best to try to hold the door open and hold people responsible. Yeah, I’m asking you to do the impossible ... I’m fully aware that job loss is on the table ... but if you’re not doing it, nobody is.”
She went on to admit that ever since she was a little girl, she has debated whether its worth it to speak up when wronged. The wife of former NBA star Dwayne Wade revealed she was often burdened by feelings of “anxiety, depression, fear and terror” as she decided if she should even say anything at all.
“Eventually, I couldn’t sleep. I knew I obsessed about every single time in my life where I didn’t say anything. And it got to the point where I was like, ‘That’s not right!’ And every time I chose to speak up and the world didn’t end and I could speak a little bit better, I knew I was doing the right thing. It just made it so much easier,” she said.
Although never addressing AGT directly, Union said as a leader and woman of inspiration, it’s sometimes her job to take the bullet and point out inequalities, even at the cost of her job.
“When you’re a follower, often you’re not being led by the right person,” Union elaborated. “This is not what paradise or salvation looks like to me. You’re using me to prop up fraudulent systems ... I want no part of that, so I’d rather lead, even if I don’t know where the hell I’m going ... As long as I have air in my lungs, I will always try to cover us all and I will certainly try to center the needs of the most marginalized.”