Angelica Ross’ experience proves Black women don’t have allies in the workplace
Written by B87FM on September 22, 2023
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
Black women, I love you.
I want to say that upfront because we have to put up with so much on a daily basis, and while many of us carry the load with our heads held high, we shouldn’t have to.
Black women get weary.
It gets exhausting existing in spaces where you have to constantly advocate for your basic humanity.
People are dismissive of our experiences even when they are there to witness them.
This was the case for Angelica Ross.
In case you missed it, our good sis has been busy this week.
Ross, who has appeared in multiple seasons of Ryan Murphy’s “American Horror Story,” took to social media this week to air out her grievances with both Murphy and her “AHS 1984” costar Emma Roberts.
The 12th season of the anthology series, “American Horror Story: Delicate,” premiered Wednesday night on FX. Earlier that morning, Ross took to Instagram Live to discuss experiences she had with Roberts while on the set of the series.
Ross said during the filming of a scene, Roberts playfully told the director (presumably John J. Gray, according to Variety), “Angelica is being mean.”
The director responded by saying, “OK, ladies, you know, that’s enough. Let’s get back to work.”
Ross, who is transgender, said Roberts looked directly at her and quipped, “Don’t you mean lady?”
The implication there is Roberts saw herself as the only woman involved in that exchange, and that is disgusting.
Ross said she thought to herself, “Like, what the fuck did you just say?”
“I’m standing there, she walked away, my blood is boiling. Boiling because I’m like, if I say something, it’s gonna be me that’s the problem,” Ross added. “And I know this because there was someone who spoke up about what she was doing and they got repercussions from it. Not her — they did.
“When I saw that happening, I was just like, ‘I’m done. I’m done.’ I didn’t speak to that bitch the entire time after that,” Ross continued. “She said to me she could feel the energy coming off of me. She was like, ‘Are you OK? You haven’t been talking.’ I’m like, ‘Mmhmm,’ Cause bitch don’t play me. You’ve been playing mind games with everybody on the set and everybody’s been waiting for the moment that you would get me.”
Ross tweeted later Wednesday afternoon that Roberts had called her to apologize.
“Thank you @RobertsEmma for calling and apologizing, recognizing your behavior was not that of an ally,” Ross wrote. “I will leave the line open to follow up on your desire to do better and support social justice causes with your platform,” she wrote.
She also relayed an incident where Roberts mocked her by purposely making her voice deeper.
“We’re all sitting around & I’m copying Cody’s accent,” Ross wrote. “Didn’t know he had one. Emma then copies my voice & laugh and drops it several octaves. I was SHOOK. She read me for blood with my own words, of course I was self conscious about my voice on set after that.”
In a separate tweet thread, Ross also called out Murphy for “ghosting” her after she pitched him an idea of doing a season of the series based on the book “The Other Black Girl” and featuring a cast of Black women. Ross shared a screenshot of an email exchange between herself and Murphy dated July 3, 2020.
In his email to her, Murphy seems enthusiastic about her idea and tells her he wants to do it, saying he would start a writer’s room in the fall of that year.
He wrote, “Along with you, who are the four women I should get? I think Keke Palmer, Gabby … not sure of the fourth?”
Ross replies with equal enthusiasm and says, “Debbi Morgan (“Eve’s Bayou”) the culture would LIVE and she’s a powerhouse actress. Also someone like a Lynn Whitfield or Alfre Woodard would TURN IT!”
She went on to suggest actresses such as Adina Porter (“True Blood”), Amiyah Scott (“Star”), Gabrielle Union, Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o, Kerry Washington and Halle Berry.
Let me pause for a moment and give Angelica Ross her flowers for speaking the names of Black women in sisterhood. Be the kind of Black woman who advocates for other Black women when you have the opportunity to do so. This was beautiful to read, and Angelica is absolutely right; the culture would love a season of “AHS” starring Black women — especially Debbi Morgan!
Ross went on to quote a line written by Zakiya Harris in “The Other Black Girl”: “With heightened awareness of cultural sensitivity comes great responsibility. If we’re not careful, ‘diversity’ might become an item people start checking off a list and nothing more—a shallow, shadowy thing with but one dimension.”
Ross said Murphy not getting back to her about the potential “AHS” season negatively impacted her career because she was in talks with Marvel for a potential role in one of their projects, but she couldn’t sign with them until she knew whether or not Murphy was going to pick up her contract again or not.
There are people who would call these “microaggressions,” and I want all of us to stop using that word because it minimizes the impact of these things when they happen, and because they happen so frequently, they are no longer “micro.” They are macro AF.
Angelica is yet another Black woman having to advocate for herself in the workplace because, in the workplace, Black women have no allies.
Everyone wants to smile in our faces and call us “girlfriend” and say things like “Yassssssssssssss” and “You go, girl!” as they snap their fingers and roll their necks in a mockery of our aesthetic, but at the end of the day, when it really matters, they are silent.
I have to get this off my chest: Emma Roberts is a nepo baby who would not have a career were it not for her super famous aunt who is a beloved and (as far as we know) unproblematic actress. Yes, her father is Eric Roberts, and yes, he is an actor as well, but his credits are not of the same caliber as those of his sister, and honestly, he has creeped me out ever since I saw him play the dude who killed Playboy centerfold Dorothy Stratten in “Star 80.”
When Emma Roberts misgendered Angelica, the director who was standing there had a duty and an obligation to call her out on her transphobia right then and there, but he remained silent.
A Black woman was misgendered and dehumanized right in front of his face, and he obviously didn’t think it was important enough to say something in her defense. He wasn’t an ally.
When Roberts mocked Ross’ voice at the table read, everyone there should have been on her neck about it. It was an egregious thing to do, and she should not have been allowed to get away with it, but she did.
Such is the way with entitled and privileged white women in the workplace. They are allowed to metaphorically trample all over Black women, and the Black women are fully expected to just let it ride, suck it up and be the bigger person.
I have been saying this a lot lately: I may be fat, but I’m not the bigger person, and our diminutive queen Angelica Ross shouldn’t have to be either.
The sad part is, as Angelica noted, she knew she couldn’t say anything because if she did, then she would be the problem. Everyone would be focused on her response to the abhorrent behavior instead of the abhorrent behavior itself. That’s how selective offense works.
And so now everyone has been aired out on social media. Roberts has apologized, but did we think she wouldn’t? Being publicly called a transphobe should make anyone want to be a better person, but I’m sure in this case, Roberts is more concerned that her behavior has been put on blast and likely a lot less contrite than she should be.
Next week, Hollywood will have forgotten all about this. Roberts is starring in the new season of “AHS,” and all the stories will be about that and not the fact that she is a hateful beast who deserves to be held accountable.
In the meantime, Ross announced yesterday morning that she is leaving Hollywood.
“For the folks who haven’t put it together yet, I’m “leaving Hollywood”. There are multiple articles that will be coming out detailing this. So I suggest you and your faves play nice, cuz I’m a Black trans woman with nothing to lose. Candy was born from my body. IYKYK. IYDYD.”
Angelica Ross is a great actress. She shouldn’t have to leave Hollywood. Hollywood should be doing better and holding people like Emma Roberts accountable.
But since she is leaving, I hope she burns it all to the ground on her way out.
Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at moniquejudge.com.
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