Remember late 2017, when, as the #MeToo movement exploded, Terry Crews made sexual assault allegations against agent Adam Venit, subsequently filing suit and testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2018? As Crews weathered derision from several other high-profile black men, Gabrielle Union was one of many in his corner (including our own writers here at The Root), repeatedly expressing her empathy and support for Crews, who would soon become her America’s Got Talent co-star.
Fast-forward to early 2020, and in the wake of Union’s unceremonious dismissal from the show following her expressed concerns about toxic and racist behavior, Crews’ allyship has proven less than mutual. In fact, when news of Union’s firing broke in December, Crews’ initial response could best be described as milquetoast, as the actor simply tweeted: “You’re the best, Gabrielle! You will be missed!”
Erm. Okay, I guess.
But on Thursday, Crews made it clear he’s riding for NBC, telling Us Weekly the hosting gig “was the best experience I ever had in my entire life” in response to questions about the controversy sparks by Union’s complaints. (A stance he echoed when appearing on the third hour of the Today show the same day.)
“It just was not my experience,” said Crews, later adding, “When they talk about diversity, there was every bit of diversity on set, everywhere...I have never been in a more diverse place in 20 years of entertainment, so what can I say?”
Well, at the very least, you could say nothing, Terry. Of course, you could’ve also said that regardless of your own experience you still believe your friend and colleague, but I guess that’s too much to ask.
Needless to say, Union’s supporters—and black women, in particular—were not at all amused by Crews’ seeming lack of support for one who so readily and publicly supported him, presenting receipts as proof of his hypocrisy.
Others brought up the fact that Crews has previously proved problematic as an ally, pointing out the “heteronormative and patriarchal” take on parenting he shared (and doubled down on) last spring, as well as his “apology” to the same black men who openly disputed and mocked his sexual assault claims, tweeting, “Truth is, if it had not happened to me, I would have been suspicious and doubtful too.”
Seems Crews is still empathy-deficient in that respect since although it didn’t happen to him, he refuses to validate Union’s experience of toxicity within NBC’s ranks. It’s disappointing—and frankly, we’re tired.
Ironically, when Crews was in the midst of his own crisis, he addressed what he called “cognitive dissonance” when it comes to dealing with crucial issues like sexual assault and racism in Hollywood, telling an audience at the 2018 Sundance Festival (h/t Variety):
A lot of times, Hollywood can be like a religious service. You’re doing so many things that you don’t even know why you’re doing them anymore. It’s like, this is how it’s done...Do you buy in? Do you sell out? What are you into? There’s this cognitive dissonance that you deal with, like two opposing beliefs in your brain at the same time. Which one do you believe?
How about believing black women, Terry? We believed you.
As for Union, she responded to the betrayal and subsequent outpouring of support on social media with her own tweet to a follower, which read in part:
“Truth telling, wanting change & having MULTIPLE witnesses who bravely came forward to let EVERYONE know I didn’t lie or exaggerate, really exposes those who enthusiastically will throw you under the bus, forgetting quickly who stepped up 4 THEIR truth.”
Yes, how quickly we forget, Terry—that “to whom much is given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). We gave you our support, and we expect better from you, in return. Because as you told the Sundance audience: “Until you hold everyone accountable every time, nothing will change.”