Since 2017, Mo’Nique has been speaking out against Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey for allegedly playing a part in blackballing her from Hollywood after her role in the 2009 movie Precious. According to Mo’Nique, the three mega-producers labeled her “difficult” because she refused to promote Precious internationally for Lionsgate without being paid a certain amount of money.
This situation, along with Mo’Nique’s subsequent call to boycott Netflix for allegedly not paying her equally as male and/or white comedians, sparked much-needed conversations about the business side of being a star and how Black people can be treated fairly.
The remnants of such a conversation can still be felt today, considering Kelis just accused Pharrell and Chad Hugo of cheating her out of a music publishing deal that caused her not to see money from her first two album sales. Rapper Ma$e would soon follow suit, claiming Bad Boys founder, Diddy, underpaid him for his publishing and when Ma$e tried to buy it back 24 years later, Diddy said he had to match the number of a “European guy.”
When it comes to talking about business and Black people getting paid, especially Black women, Mo’Nique has been crucial in building the conversation.
However, she recently posted an open letter to Oprah that misses the mark when it comes to the topic of sexual assault. In her Instagram post, Mo’Nique accused Oprah of giving more attention to Black men who are alleged abusers, rather than white men like Harvey Weinstein.
“You did an interview on the CBS Morning Show and were asked about Harvey Weinstein by Norah O’Donnell, and you said as it pertained to him that you ‘always try to look at the Rainbow in the clouds, whatever is the silver lining,'” Mo’Nique said in her Instagram post. “You also said ‘if we make this all about Harvey Weinstein then we have lost the moment’. When you either are, or were going to be a part of [sic] documentary on Michael Jackson, and Russell Simmons, how is that not making it all about them? Interestingly, Brother M.J. was acquitted, and deceased, so how is he not off limits? Russell and Harvey are accused of the same thing so in fairness how do you not ‘support’ the accusers of both as you said you did with R.S. or you look for the silver lining for both like you said you did for H.W.? The only difference between the two is [sic] there skin color and doesn’t H.W. have way more accusers?”
Mo’Nique then insinuated that Oprah doesn’t support Black women because of the alleged harm she’s done to Mo’Nique’s career. “Please consider standing by the people who are right and not just the ‘right people,'” Mo’Nique said, ending her post.
Usually, Mo’Nique has strong arguments when it comes to being paid fairly in business. But in this criticism of Oprah, she’s reiterated problematic arguments around sexual assault, claiming white men don’t receive the same attention as Black men.
This “what about Harvey Weinstein” opinion is deeply problematic, primarily because the huge media executive is already facing repercussions for his alleged abuse. The 67-year-old — who’s accused of harassing, assaulting or outright raping over 90 women — is currently on trial in New York on counts of rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse involving two separate women. He also faces similar charges in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Russell Simmons faces no charges. As a matter of fact, the man reportedly fled to Bali, Indonesia “which has no extradition treaty,” according to a Jane Doe rape accuser. In other words, if a woman decided to press charges against Simmons (he’s accused of sexual assault, harassment or rape by 20 women so far), he would supposedly be safe from harm.
Many of Simmons’ accusers are Black women.
In a world where rape culture still thrives and where Black women are constantly accused of “bringing down the race” when they accuse a Black man of abuse, the biggest support you can show a Black woman is believing her when she details a traumatic story of abuse.
Oprah has done this.
Yet Mo’Nique insinuates that she doesn’t support Black women. Maybe it’s more appropriate for Mo’Nique to say Oprah didn’t support her, which is completely fine and valid. However, until a longer list of receipts surfaces showing Oprah has consistently stepped over Black women, Mo’Nique’s argument is incomplete.
Even Oprah’s support of Michael Jackson’s sexual abuse accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, and the 2019 documentary Leaving Neverland, is probably a defense for Black women in Oprah’s eyes, considering she was sexually abused as a child, according to her many interviews. Support for Robson and Safechuck was probably support for little Black girls facing abuse like younger Oprah or even younger Mo’Nique, who was also sexually abused by her brother as a kid.
If anyone took the time to watch Oprah’s After Neverland special, she consistently explained that her involvement with the Jackson case was less about Michael Jackson and more about giving the accusers a voice. “This moment transcends Michael Jackson,” she said. “It is much bigger than any one person. This is a moment in time that allows us to see this societal corruption. It’s like a scourge on humanity.” Oprah was probably trying to say the same thing with her CBS This Morning comments about Harvey Weinstein. “If we make this just about Harvey Weinstein then we will have lost this moment,” she said. In other, words this is about the abused and not just the alleged abusers.
To claim Oprah is favoring a certain “skin color” over another when it comes to sexual assault is preposterous and that’s one criticism about Oprah that should be deaded quickly. Bringing attention to Russell Simmons is supporting Black women, despite Oprah’s controversial leave from the On The Record documentary. Bringing attention to Michael Jackson is Oprah supporting herself — a Black woman who’s experienced child sexual trauma.
If we want to talk about Oprah’s business practices, that’s another story. If we want to talk about her allegedly “malicious” way of bringing Mo’Nique’s childhood trauma to her talk show, that’s another conversation.
But not supporting Black women within the context of sexual assault? Mo’Nique should revisit this idea.