Being a successful woman of color in a world full of patriarchy and white supremacy is a tricky undertaking that often requires patience, vision, dexterity, and a tribe of supportive sisters who not only raise you up when you fall, but also pull you aside when you unwittingly become part of the problem.
In the infamous words of Dr. Maya Angelou, “Nobody but nobody can make it out here alone.”
Unfortunately it appears that “Jane the Virgin” actress Gina Rodriguez‘s good girlfriends must have all missed that memo, and called out sick on having her back…. for the entirety of 2018, because sis has been all types of wrong lately. And according to Black Twitter, is only one “All Lives Matter”-esque statement away from getting sent to the “time out” corner with the 53 percent of white women who have been sitting there in red MAGA dunce caps since 2016.
Her latest, “Oh no baby, what is you doing?” slip of the tongue to go viral occurred last week after a roundtable discussion she took part in with fellow TV actresses Ellen Pompeo, Gabrielle Union, and Emma Roberts was posted on YouTube.
While Pompeo — who is far from perfect herself — gained a few cool points for giving an unexpected master class on white privilege and accountability, Rodriguez made many in the viewing audience raise a furrowed brow, as she confessed her fears and reservations with the Hollywood pay gap across racial lines.
“I get so petrified in this space talking about equal pay especially when you look at the intersectional aspect of it, right?,” she explains. “Where white women get paid more than Black women, Black women get paid more than Asian women, Asian women get paid more than Latina women, and it’s like a very scary space to step into. Because I always feel like I fail when I speak about it because I can’t help but feel already so gracious to do what I do and I feel like, culturally, I feel like I was raised to just feel so appreciative of getting here.”
Ellen Pompeo, Gabrielle Union, Gina Rodriguez and Emma Roberts discuss intersectionality, representation and accountability in tv/film.
— pilot jones (@ashanism) November 20, 2018
The first thing wrong with this statement is the fact that the actress apparently doesn’t have WiFi or access to Google. Because even the laziest of Internet trolls was able to open up a search bar and quickly suss out that her statements were false, and then drag her all through these web streets while still eating Thanksgiving leftovers.
To be fair, maybe Rodriguez was speaking about pay disparities among women in general, but given the topic of discussion, her comments were understandably interpreted as relating specifically to actresses. And in that world, according to Forbes, the highest paid actress of 2018 is Sofia Vergera, who is very decidedly Latina.
So that’s just…awkward.
As someone who grew up with the sound of telenovelas constantly playing in our house, I immediately fell in love with Rodriguez’s lead character on the CW’s Americanized Spanish soap, “Jane The Virgin” and for years assumed that she herself was just as lovable and thoughtful as her character.
However, whenever she appears in an interview, somehow she always ends up falling into the Latinx equivalent of “The Sunken Place,” which I imagine to be a poorly lit, 24-hour bodega in Hell, where all those Trump-loving, white Cubans from Miami get their late night snacks before turning their noses up at the rest of us.
As the old proverb goes, “Not all skinfolk, are kinfolk,” and so I would caution any studio exec, women’s empowerment group, or “woke” white person looking for insight to think twice before inviting Rodriguez to sit at the table and speak again on behalf of all Latinas. Much in the same way I’d give the same warning about HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson ever being asked to represent Black Americans with common sense.
the saddest thing about gina rodriguez being anti-black is no one recommended jane the virgin to me more than black women. pic.twitter.com/icOV37USN8
— DanielléDASH GIFLord (@DanielleDASH) November 24, 2018
Many people have pointed out over the last week, that when Rodriguez is in the presence of a sister getting even a smidgen of accolade or applause, she develops this nervous tick and then has a knee jerk reaction to sit up and insert a, “Well actually!” rebuttal into the mix before anyone can even think of doing the Wakanda salute.
A perfect example of this in action, is that viral clip of her interrupting her Small Foot co-star, Yara Shahidi as she’s attempting to speak on the importance of being a role model for young Black girls.
While the interviewer’s finesse in steering the conversation back to the initial question was a masterpiece of pettiness wrapped in professionalism, the 34-year-old actress’ inability to simply let Black women be great has gotten so noticeable, that one Twitter user even went so far as to call her a “habitual hater” — a moniker that is so painfully accurate that I high-key hope she sees that tweet and prints it out to “unpack” with her therapist during the holiday break.
To be fair, some may be asking, “Ok, she’s annoying as hell, but is she harming anyone?” and the answer is YES, she is.
This woman has a major platform, fan following and access to rooms that many people reading this article can only dream of entering. She has intentionally positioned herself as an activist and as a result is often pulled into discussions where she is specifically being asked to speak up on the behalf of women of color as some sort of authority.
By her own design, her words and influence hold weight. It is a responsibility that was courted and not thrust upon her.
And yet, she continues to recklessly interject herself into moments where she doesn’t belong, constantly frames diversity conversations as if achievements in Hollywood can only be given to Black women OR Latina women, but never both at the same time, shows no respect for the Black women who actually did pave the way in the industry to enable her to run her mouth, AND also seems to forget that some of us are actually Afro-Latina and so many of our wins technically belong to her whiny ass too.
Seriously, it’s like this woman is attempting to win the gold, silver and bronze medals at the Oppression Olympics all by her lonesome, but thinks doing it while wearing a tear soaked #TimesUp t-shirt, will somehow make us too sympathetic to call her out on her bull.
And the earnest and self deprecating way she often packages this problematic rhetoric is just getting old. You can put the Kleenex away Hater, we’re onto you and we’re not even all that mad; just tired.
For anyone who has ever been curious about how white (and white-assimilating) privilege manifests itself in the Latinx community, this situation just gave you a front row seat.
Remember that time Gina Rodriguez blocked me for calling her out on her anti blackness and participating in erasing black women
— *•.¸♡ electric susi ♡¸.•* (@ElectricSusi) November 20, 2018
It is quite possible for Gina Rodriguez to advocate for better Latinx representation without constantly evoking African American advances in a way that implies they're part of the problem. If she refuses to learn that, her cultural activism actually perpetuates the problem.
— Sofia Quintero (@sofiaquintero) November 24, 2018
remember when gina rodriguez said there was no latinx representation in Black Panther pic.twitter.com/W5NtXmCF2R
— jane (@tracyjannne) November 23, 2018
Gina Rodriguez needs to address why white women have replaced brown Latinas as the leads in these telenovelas (and why brown Latinas are cast as maids & hood chicks if they’re cast at all) before she complains about black actress pay (which is low). https://t.co/h1JUos3FZX
— Purify🗣 (@Purify_toast17) November 24, 2018
Since 4ever, Black actors, actresses & directors PRIED OPEN Hollywood's door n held it open for the rest of us. I'm certain what #ViolaDavis got for #Widows, #HTGAWM , etc. she wasn't paid enough 4 her talent. #GinaRodriguez missed the whole cruise ship w her #PayGap remarks.
— Helen Doan (@hlndoan) November 24, 2018
Follow writer Blue Telusma on Instagram at @bluecentric