In 2023 don’t be your profession’s “cool girl”
March 31, 2023
If this past month has shown us anything it is that Black professionals, regardless of their industry, are held to a standard that does not make space for real feelings. We could argue that race has nothing to do with how a professional industry impacts a person, but that would be false. For example, we wouldn’t need the Crown Act of 2022 if BIPOC professionals weren’t experiencing discrimination over their hairstyles.
When Law Roach, renowned fashion industry professional, announced his resignation from celebrity styling many wondered why. More than their inquisition into what prompted his resignation, there were public outcries from fellow Black entertainers and creative artists for him to remain in the industry. On the other side of the spectrum, when Angela Bassett did not win an Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards, many criticized her for not applauding the winner of the category. Specific to Roach, many would have seen the viral video of him accompanying Zendaya to the recent year’s Louis Vuitton show at Paris Fashion Week and finding they weren’t assigned seating together. Virtual discourse suggested this moment prompted his resignation, however Roach later explained that he found himself working in situations where he was not feeling as protected and considered as he would prefer.
Where Angela Bassett is concerned, there was no explanation regarding why she did not clap. At the same time, why should a woman who has been consistently snubbed by the academy clap when she is snubbed again? In fact, Angela Bassett’s loss reminds me of the moment Beyoncé and Adele shared at the Grammys when the Lemonade singer lost the Album of the Year category. Somehow in Hollywood there is an expectation that Black professionals be gracious and understanding even when they are uncomfortable – there is an expectation for Black professionals not to advocate for themselves.
As much as Hollywood is rooted in creating an imaginary world, it is a good indicator of some of the things we experience in real life. We may not all be the Angela Bassett or Law Roach of our field, but their response to maltreatment and loss are good examples of being in the moment and making decisions based on personal well-being. We don’t know why Angela Bassett didn’t clap in that moment, but that doesn’t really matter. Whatever the situation, Angela Bassett sat there and chose herself – she didn’t perform for anybody. When Law Roach announced his retirement, he chose himself – he considered his needs and prioritized them.
Capitalism will make it seem as if addressing your needs over those of your workplace or colleagues is negative. However in 2023, particularly after the unprecedented loss of life during the COVID-19 lockdowns, we know that life is not infinite.
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