“Damn, homie. You was the man, homie.”
It’s very rare that you’ll catch me quoting 50 Cent for anything. But those lyrics ring in my ears every time I think about how Terry Crews made himself progressive America’s ‘pectacular sweetheart when he became an advocate for the #MeToo movement by sharing his own Hollywood sexual assault story just a few years ago, but, now, has shucked and jived himself into the dog house simply because he couldn’t shut himself up and let Gabrielle Union be great in calling out racism she experienced during her time with America’s Got Talent.
The Roots’ own Maiysha Kai has already done a brilliant job covering the saga and reading Crews for absolute filth for posting in a now-deleted tweet saying, “‘I’m a hog. You’re a chicken. Just ‘cuz you gave me eggs—Don’t mean I owe you bacon.’’ —Ancient Flint Michigan proverb” after Union called him out on throwing on a cape for AGT while throwing her under the bus.
Now, since I have a few family members in Flint, from whence Terry hails, I checked on this supposedly ancient Negro wisdom; and by all accounts, it’s seemingly not a thing outside of the Crews household. What is a thing, however, is the business fable of the pig and the chicken, in which the duo discuss ways to please their farmer, proposing they fix him a hearty breakfast (h/t Agile Jedi):
The chicken, understanding that he had little else to offer suggested, “I could provide some eggs.”
The pig knew the farmer might want more, “That’s a fine start. What else should we make?”
The chicken looked around...scratched his head...then said, “ham? The farmer loves ham and eggs!”
The pig, very mindful of what this implied, said, “that’s fine, but while you’re making a contribution I’m making a real commitment!”
[In tech world-speak] “the term Pig has come to describe all the developers, designers and testers who commit to the actual work. The term Chicken is applied to everyone else who make intellectual contributions but do not commit to any work.”
Is that what Crews thinks is happening here? Last week, in the midst of contradicting Union’s purported experience while being interviewed by his NBC colleagues, he at least managed to belatedly offer that he believes “you should always listen to women.” But if we’re now having a chicken/hog argument, is the underlying inference that his work or experience is of more value than hers—or, for that matter, the legions of other black women who caped for him two years ago, many of whom are still trying to educate him now?
And that’s just a small sample. Kai has been pretty damn thorough in putting Crews in his (sunken?) place.
Well now, Crews has finally decided to do the no-brainer thing he should’ve done in the first place and just apologize for speaking out of turn. (Well actually, that’s the second smartest thing he could’ve done; the first thing would’ve been to not undermine a black woman calling out white nonsense, to begin with.)
“I hear you, I respect you and understand you. I am sorry and I am here to support you. I spoke from my own personal point of view without first taking into consideration someone else’s experience,” he wrote. “I allowed disrespectful comments directed at me and my family to cause me to react angrily instead of responding thoughtfully. This certainly caused more harm, and it is my hope that I can amend any pain I have caused to those who were hurt by my words.”
Note: When attempting to convey sincerity in an apology you’re giving and in owning up to your actions, including the “disrespect” you perceive to have been directed at you and yours isn’t a good look. It makes it look like you’re indirectly trying to excuse yourself in the midst of your apology. Anyway, he continues addressing Union herself.
But this mea culpa may be too little too late. Sometimes when you do wrong—and especially when you double-down on that wrong and then triple-down on that wrong (by tweeting dumb shit like, “There is only one woman one [sic] earth I have to please. Her name is Rebecca. Not my mother, my sister, my daughters or co-workers. I will let their husbands/ boyfriends/ partners take care of them. Rebecca gives me WINGS.”) You end up veering off into a place of no return. You’ve gone above and beyond the duty of “doing too much” and now any apology you give is going to fall flat.
Former NBA star and husband to Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade, was none too impressed with Crews’ apology.
Educator and activist Zellie Imani joined Wade in his disavowing of Crews.
It can’t be emphasized enough that the main issue here is that, in the wake of Union calling out racism, Crews decided he needed to keep things on an even keel with AGT instead of either backing a fellow black person up or simply staying silent. Even if it’s true that he never experienced any racism there himself (which, for a large black man in a predominantly white environment, is going to be a hard sell, but whatever), acting as a neutral observer only serves white privilege and the white establishment’s culture of covert and overt racism in the workplace, which they will always seek plausible deniability for first before even beginning to reckon with it.
Twitter user @SFrenchLee responded best, quoting Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we have to interfere.”