“I think the floodgates have opened for white women,” Gabrielle Union told the New York Times. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence whose pain has been taken seriously. Whose pain we have showed historically and continued to show. Whose pain is tolerable and whose pain is intolerable. And whose pain needs to be addressed now.”
In November, Girls Trip writer Tracy Oliver tweeted, “Inspired by all the women speaking up. I've been publicly silent, as many of my black female writer friends have been. But privately, for years, we've all had to deal w/ abuse of power that attacks us not only for being women, but for being black.”
Though it’s not a hard and fast rule, the vast majority of people who’ve been empowered to speak up since the Weinstein stories broke have been white women. That’s hardly reflective of the facts about who, at least in terms of demographics, gets abused. But, as Union and Oliver pointed out, it does speak to a different kind of power structure that still prioritizes certain kinds of pain over others. It’s a system that continues to discourage people of color from voicing their experiences — with sexism, with racism, and where the two intersect. And when they do, it’s a system that still routinely shuffles them to the margins. (Where, for example, have the alleged victims of R. Kelly been in Hollywood’s reckoning?)
Crews, for one, acknowledged how race came into play on the night he was allegedly assaulted by Venit. “I was going to kick his ass right then,” he wrote about the moment after Venit allegedly groped him at a party. “But then I thought twice about how the whole thing would appear.” As he wrote in his next tweet, “‘240 lbs. Black Man stomps out Hollywood honcho’ would be the headline the next day.”
That’s not even taking into account all the instances of harassment that might have taken place in Hollywood throughout the years that weren’t sexual in nature — but were racist, and which potentially still had damaging, lasting effects on careers and psyches. Given how many of Hollywood’s controversies in recent years have involved race, its place at the margins of conversations about the reckoning signals perhaps, that Hollywood is still avoiding a few elephants in the room.
It can be difficult to detangle one ingredient from another when it comes to abuse. But to fully reckon, one must look at the whole picture.