This column appears in the November 30, 2017 edition of Urban Pro Weekly.
Today Show host Matt Lauer. CBS This Morning host Charlie Rose. Minnesota Senator (and former Saturday Night Live actor) Al Franken. Michigan State Representative John Conyers.
All of these men have been in the news, and some have been fired, in the face of sexual harassment allegations. Their names aren’t the only ones.
Ever since early October, when scandal found its way to Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s doorstep, sexual allegations have made the news on virtually a daily basis.
The response I’ve gathered from the media, as well as family and friends, is one of shock and surprise, even as the tawdry laundry list grows.
Whenever “revelations” such as these hit the media, I try to look at the bigger picture.
First, let’s look at the greater society. Our relationships lack civility and benevolence. In relationships, whether business or personal, we are power-hungry and sex-crazed people. This leads to symptomatic problems on a small scale such as catcalling. On a larger scale, there are scary divorcing trends.
In the case of Hollywood and politics, we see a familiar story — SYSTEMIC oppression. The names we see in the news represent a larger problem — a culture of celebrities wielding their power in an abusive and destructive way.
I will ask the same question again, though: why are we still surprised?
Let’s look at what’s happening another way. Instead of looking at these allegations post-Weinstein, let’s look at these allegations post-Trump.
In doing so, it is perfectly logical to wonder how in the world President Donald Trump is able to retain his status and position in the face of sexual allegations, as other celebrities lose their jobs and social standing.
The answer is simple — Trump has the financial backing and the zealots to withstand the media frenzy. As a matter of fact, the grabber-in-chief embraces the controversy, almost to the point of trolling us all. His Twitter posts and questionable leadership keep him in the public eye, which is all the better for him, and all the worst for us.
Still, there is a larger issue.
We see celebrities and politicians in a glorious light. Love them or hate them, we worship them to a fault. We study their every move and define our lives through theirs. As Black people, we associate our aspirations of wealth (and sometimes our wealth itself!) to the likes of Oprah, Beyonce and Jay Z. This is a recipe for disaster.
As it relates to our politicians, we care more about their personal lives than we do the policies they enact. This is also a recipe for disaster.
This series of sex scandals in Hollywood and in the political realm should make us not only question these individuals, but the systems themselves. If we can’t trust the shining stars of Hollywood, who can we trust? If we can’t trust our elected officials, who can we trust?
Leave it to me, with a smiling face, to answer that question — trust NO ONE but God.
Challenge yourself to look past the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, along with the prestige and popularity of politics. Look at the least of those in your communities and ask how some people can have so much while some people have so little, and very few people show WITH THEIR ACTIONS that they actually care.
Today is the day to stop acting surprised. Hollywood and the political realm have been exposed, and we are all the better for it. We should also hold folks in our communities accountable for this type of behavior. I don’t care if it’s your favorite pastor or your dearest relative — sexual abuse cannot and should not be tolerated.
Unknowingly (or knowingly), we are the ones that make up the systems which allow celebrities and politicians to prosper. If we want to dictate change, then we have to uphold these entities to a higher standard.
In other words, stop being surprised by a system of lies.