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- Gabrielle Union encouraged women to stand up to racism and discrimination in the workplace at the launch of her New York & Company holiday collection in New York on Monday.
- “Don’t be the happy negro that does the bidding of the status quo because you’re afraid. Don’t allow them to call you angry when someone else is called passionate. It’s terrifying. There’s a solid chance you’ll lose your job. I speak from experience,” Union said as reported by USA Today.
- The former “America’s Got Talent” judge alluded to the events that led to her alleged firing from season 14 of the NBC program in November, however she did not directly name the show.
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Gabrielle Union offered first-hand advice about fighting racism in the workplace at a panel for her New York & Company collection launch on Monday in New York.
“Don’t be the happy negro that does the bidding of the status quo because you’re afraid. Don’t allow them to call you angry when someone else is called passionate. It’s terrifying. There’s a solid chance you’ll lose your job. I speak from experience,” Union said as reported by USA Today.
The former season 14 “America’s Got Talent” judge didn’t mention NBC by name during the panel, however the panel was the first time that Union addressed her departure from the show in a public place.
“Do your best because corporations want global dollars. Do your best to try to hold the door open and hold people responsible. Yeah, I’m asking you to do the impossible. I’m fully aware that job loss is on the table, but if you’re not doing it, nobody is,” she continued.
Union was joined at the Power of Inclusivity and the Women Leading the Charge panel in New York by Hannah Bronfman, Solange Franklin, Ebonee Davis and Maddy Jones, according to Variety.
Her comments followed her alleged firing in November from NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” for reportedly speaking out about racism on set.
Union reportedly notified NBC producers about racially insensitive comments from Jay Leno and contestants, but the former judge claimed that her concerns weren’t addressed.
Over the course of the judge’s first season, she received remarks that her on-screen hairstyles were “too black,” according to Cosmopolitan. She was fired from the show in November, and the SAG-AFTRA performers’ labor union launched an investigation into the claims.
After Union was fired, the companies backing “AGT,” including Freemantle, Simon Cowell’s Syco, and NBC, published a statement addressing Union’s exit that read: “We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture. We are working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate.”
Union issued a gracious message for those who supported her throughout her dismissal. “So many tears, so much gratitude. THANK YOU! Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone… you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever,” she wrote.
So many tears, so much gratitude. THANK YOU! Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone… you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever ❤
— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) November 28, 2019
As proud as i were of her being selected as a judge on #AGT— Iam even more proud of her standing up for what she stands for and that’s US.
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) November 27, 2019
— TIME'S UP (@TIMESUPNOW) November 28, 2019
this is a teaching moment..It’s important..white girls I’m talking to you..whether you truly understand what racial injustice is or not..that you stand with your sisters on the front lines. Don’t cut side deals & don’t not get involved because it isn’t your issue..because it is
— Ellen Pompeo (@EllenPompeo) November 28, 2019
Team @itsgabrielleu, always.
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) November 28, 2019
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) November 28, 2019
Although Union will not be working on the competition series moving forward, she met with the network in December to discuss her complaints. “We had a lengthy 5-hour, and what I thought to be, productive meeting yesterday. I was able to, again, express my unfiltered truth. I led with transparency and my desire and hope for real change,” she tweeted.