By now, the video has gone viral: in it, Randallstown, Maryland native, Academy Award winner, and comedian Mo’Nique is wrapping up an intense interview with Charlamagne Tha God and the rest of the crew on the syndicated radio show “The Breakfast Club.” She says goodbye to the other two hosts and then turns her attention to Charlamagne (who she refers to by his real name, Lenard).
“We have to explain brothers like you,” she tells him. “And when we watch that movie ‘Birth of a Nation and we saw that man walk his wife into that master’s house, we watched him walk his wife in then we watched him go back in. You’re that brother.”
Comedian and Academy Award winner, Mo’Nique, is speaking out about her experiences with racism and sexism in the entertainment industry. In this photo from her Instagram, her caption references, the Bob Marley song, Get Up, Stand Up, in regards to standing up for equal rights in the entertainment industry. (Courtesy Photo)
The host doesn’t respond. What is there to say?
Mo’Nique has been making the rounds lately, speaking out about what she calls racism and sexism in the entertainment industry.
It started back in January, when she posted a video on her Instagram account detailing her beef with the streaming site Netflix: they had offered her $500,000 for a comedy special – much less than they’d offered white woman comedian Amy Schumer for her work, or Black, male comedians Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle for his.
The move started a debate: was Mo’Nique really deserving of the cash she was asking for? Is it smart for her to be this vocal? Isn’t there a better way to resolve the issue? Charlamagne was one of her detractors, and had named her Donkey of the Day for the move (a designation he gives people he thinks have behaved inappropriately or foolishly). That’s why Mo’Nique was on the show. She explained more about that moment speaking over the phone last week.
“I know what it is to be protected by our Black men because I have one. And I was sitting there watching that young brother do the work of ‘I will belittle, demean, degrade. I will do the work of the master,’ she said. “I’ve watched other interviews he’s had with sisters – Nicki Minaj, Little Kim and you watch this brother have a devaluing of his sisters.”
She’s also had some very public pushback from Whoopi Goldberg on the ABC daytime talk show “The View,” who told Mo’Nique that she was being unprofessional.
Mo’Nique said she doesn’t regret what she’s doing.
“For me, everything in my body says this is what you’re supposed to be doing,” she told the AFRO.
“There are people saying ‘oh, I’m nervous for Mo’Nique. You know, what if this blackballs her even more?’ And what I say to people: I sleep really good at night,” she said. “And I have a great time with my family because I’m not fearful.”
She said she feels it’s important to be this vocal because the situation is serious. It won’t change otherwise.
“There are some people that said ‘I understand what Mo’Nique is saying, but don’t you think it’s a bit extreme to call for a boycott?’ And I agree with them. It is extreme. But don’t you think inequality is extreme? Don’t you think injustice is extreme? Don’t we think racism and sexism is extreme?”
She said that she’s not just doing this for her, though. She hopes that her fight now makes it easier for future generations.
“Every moment makes it easier for the next moment. Which means every sister makes it easier for the next sister,” the comedian said. “I can’t sit back and say I’m making it easier – no, every sister makes it easier. Marsha Warfield and Thea Vidale, they made it easier for Mo’Nique and Sommore. We’ll make it easier for the next ones.”
She also has nothing but encouragement for comedian Tiffany Haddish, who recently announced her own deal with Netflix (she didn’t disclose how much she was being paid).
“People were making comments to her about it and it’s like wait a minute ya’ll. Get off my baby,” Mo’Nique said. “People think Tiffany is brand new, that sister been putting in the work.”
About halfway through the conversation, Mo’Nique was joined by her husband Sidney Hicks, another Randallstown native who has known her since they were both kids. Some have taken issue with the very vocal and visible role Hicks plays in Mo’Nique’s career, he’s her manager but he also usually accompanies her on interviews with the media. The two also have a podcast together, called Mo’Nique and Sidney’s Open Relationship.
They are partners, they told me, and this is the way they want it.
“If you notice, Mo’Nique communicates in her way and I communicate in my way,” Hicks said. “So what happens is, my job is to set it up and her job is to knock ‘em down and that’s what we do as a team.”
The two also have some thoughts about Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who gained notoriety for living for a stretch of time as a Black woman, and who will also soon have a documentary on Netflix.
“Well, I am going to become a white woman and then see what kind of deal that I’ll get,” she said after a pause and with a chuckle.
“And what we said the other day on our podcast is simply put,” Hicks added. “What she found out , it’s better to play a Black woman than to be a Black woman. Or should I say more profitable.”