The following are questions I’ve heard in person from actual, real-life, flesh-and-blood Black people with college degrees:
“Why aren’t Oprah and Gayle focused on Weinstein?”
“Why aren’t there any documentaries about Harvey Weinstein?”
“Why is Weinstein still running free out there while these black men are locked up?”
This set of queries, hailing from the Dr. Umar Johnson School of Rank F—ery (the only school of his that will ever exist) can be answered easily by not being stu—err…the most cursory, first-page Google search. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
After decades of treating Hollywood like his own Hustler magazine subscription, Weinstein was convicted on Monday of two counts of sexual assault. Considering the fact that he resembles a sentient version of the Gluttony victim from Seven, his conviction (and his subsequent hospitalization) might ensure that he rocks out the rest of his livelong days behind bars.
Weinstein was the first major target of the mainstream co-opting of Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement when the New York Times published a damning story about his many professional and sexual misdeeds in October 2017. Following a monumental fall from grace over the next year, he was finally charged in the spring of 2018, with his trial starting in the second week of this year.
His conviction is an unparalleled success for the movement and might provide some modicum of peace for his many victims. But, let some of y’all tell it, Weinstein has been out here Harlem shaking it unchecked while everyone has put their energies into the high-profile Black sexual predators – an idea recently and infamously perpetuated by rapper-turned-porn-producer-turned-reggae-turned-gospel-turned-Instagram-sh*t-talker Snoop Dogg.
In castigating Gayle King for having the unmitigated audacity to ask WNBA legend Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant’s legacy in light of his sexual assault allegations, Snoop asked why King and her bestie Oprah Winfrey didn’t come after Weinstein for his misdeeds. I don’t expect a 48-year-old career ganja smoker to know what day it is, let alone be well-versed in Google. But I’ve heard this bullsh*t from college-educated Black people, and within the last week or two!
Winfrey called Weinstein’s fall “a watershed moment” for the voiceless victims of sexual assault that is “triggering a lot of unreleased pain.” She also stressed that, despite being friendly with Weinstein, she never knew of his indiscretions and called him a bully.
Others, including 50 Cent, arguably the greatest social thinker of our generation, have suggested that Winfrey and King only come after black men, especially since the former has her fingerprints on the Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland and On the Record, an upcoming documentary taking aim at hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. (Winfrey pulled her support from the documentary in January)
Except, there are already multiple films about Weinstein’s indiscretions, including 2019’s Untouchable, which you can watch right damn now on Hulu. When the first Surviving R. Kelly documentary dropped in early 2019, Weinstein was wrapped up in the criminal justice system while Kells was still running free, attempting to Step in the Name of Any Venue He Could Book.
Comments like those from Snoop and 50 lend imprimatur to people like Bill Cosby and R. Kelly, suggesting that these men should be left alone in favor of going after the bad non-Black men. Because so many folks don’t care to build their personal information database past lunchtime chatter on Black Twitter, they propagate these wrongheaded messages in a matter that suggests we should find sympathy for criminals.
Generally speaking, any suggestion that Black folks are getting unevenly taken out by #MeToo is not only ridiculous but empirically untrue: Weinstein has a fork stuck in him. Kevin Spacey’s career is capital-O Ovah-over. Folks aren’t really f—ing with Louis C.K. like that anymore. Even Aziz Ansari had to take a year-long time-out over a date that went pear-shaped.
It really boils down to the fact that there are men who’ve made you shake your a*s on the dance floor or who trigger nostalgic memories of your formative years in front of the television who have been found to do bad things; instead of embracing this, it’s easier for some to evoke a 30-year-old conspiracy theory involving an alleged attempt to purchase NBC with a straight f—ing face. Cognitive dissonance is a powerful drug.
I get that we’re inured to the wrongful accusations and convictions of Black people since time immemorial, but there are levels to this sh*t. There are numerous Black men rotting away in prison for crimes they didn’t commit and who were not accused of sexually assaulting enough women to fill a university lecture hall who can use your outrage. For example, why not direct your energy to the Black men imprisoned for dealing marijuana as the trend toward its national legalization continues?
A series of women, famous and otherwise, had to sit in open court and recall in detail (and be interrogated about) trauma at the hands of Weinstein that they probably spent a handsome sum to therapists just to get under control. That didn’t happen so your clueless a*s can ask, “What about Weinstein?”
Get thee to an internet-accessible device, do your Googles and, most importantly, don’t defend terrible people just because they look like you.
Dustin J. Seibert is a native Detroiter living in Chicago. Miraculously, people have paid him to be aggressively light-skinned via a computer keyboard for nearly two decades. He loves his own mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day only so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him at his own site, wafflecolored.com.