Kenan Thompson says there haven’t been any black female cast members on SNL in the past 6 seasons because there aren’t any that are “ready” (aka “funny enough”). And here’s my response:
Kenan, I see why you might feel compelled to say this. I saw “The Butler” and I understand how you might feel that “speaking out” might get you in trouble with “Master.” I know you didn’t want to bite the hand that feeds you, but what about the black woman that gave birth to you, fed you, took care of you and made it possible for you to pursue your dreams of being a comedic actor? Your statement is just as hurtful to her as it is to your comedic black female peers. Why? Because you are one of FEW black actors that have the opportunity to perform in front of a mainstream (white) audience on a REGULAR basis. This means your voice can and will be heard by millions and will be remembered and absorbed by millions, whether you believe you are a role model or not. Your voice matters. And here is why these words are particularly toxic. By saying black women aren’t “ready” you are saying “black women are not as good.” PERIOD.
Ten years ago, you were given the chance to showcase your “funny” on SNL. What if Eddie Murphy or Chris Rock had previously said “the reason why there aren’t many male black cast members on SNL is because there aren’t many funny black men”? No one can say, for sure, the repercussions, but I can speculate that there is a likelihood that you and other black men may not have even been given the same opportunity to audition because that seed had been planted. Just as the seed of “black men are more violent and less intelligent,” has been planted. I know my analogy is somewhat “off” because I used cast members Murphy and Rock; and they are men. I would’ve used a female example but THERE AREN’T ANY. And that is my point. You have a voice. And you used that voice to hurt an already struggling and vastly overlooked minority. FUNNY BLACK WOMEN. YES, THEY EXIST. Black women already have enough obstacles and have to constantly fight just to be seen as worthy adversaries. And you, as a black man, should know and understand this more than anyone. If you don’t support us, why should anyone else? Has it occurred to you that maybe black women aren’t being sought out as heavily?
Your remarks shock and sadden me. And I know; I’m “no one”…yet. And my words probably mean nothing to you. But I would love to one day audition for SNL; as a performer or writer. And if I do ever get the opportunity to do so, and I, for some reason, don’t get the gig, I would feel better knowing that I didn’t get it because I wasn’t at the top of MY game and not because the casting director preemptively placed me in a category of people they consider to be “inferior.” And just for the record, Kenan, we were BORN READY.
And if anyone thinks there’s a drought of funny ethnic women, here’s a list off the top of my head: Michelle Buteau, Aida Rodriguez, Kimberly Clark, Phoebe Robinson, Marcella Arguello, Kimrie Davis, Tracey Ashley, Erin Jackson, Tiffany Haddish, Darmirra Brunson, Zainab Johnson, Issa Rae, Bresha Webb, Jessica Williams, Joyelle Johnson, Arantza Fahnbulleh, Aarona Lopez, Vanessa Graddick, Jackie Fabulous, Kellee Stewart, Abbi Crutchfield, Loni Love, Reyna Amaya, Jaylyn Bishop, Aiko Tanaka, Roz Browne, Kanisha Buss, Alycia Cooper, Ali Wong, Tyree Elaine, Faith Choyce….
I could go on but, obviously, I, along with all ethnic women, have a lot of work to do.