Malcolm X, Paul Robeson and...Isaiah Washington?
No he didn't.
Fired Grey's Anatomy co-star Isaiah Washington did not just compare himself to a murdered black Muslim civil rights leader and one of America's first, most courageous black celebrities to stand against segregation and racial oppression. Did he?
"This happened to Malcolm X, this happened to Paul Robeson," he told People magazine recently. "This misconception can happen to any man of power that loves himself and wants to spread that love and that humanity throughout the world."
So Malcolm and Robeson also got fired from a cushy gig on one of TV's top shows for uttering a homophobic slur and then clumsily handling the fallout? Sigh.
It's all part of Washington's continually ham-handed way of responding to his dismissal from the show; a clumsy attempt at career rehab that is, unfortunately, centered on pitting black people against gay white people.
I recently got an email from someone I respect, Jasmyne Cannick, a black publicist and activist for gay causes, who is staunchly defending her friend Washington as a victim of racism among gay-friendly white Hollywood. Her position, featured in stories by the Associated Press and New York Post among others, is that the media was determined to portray Washington as an angry, homophobic black man, even after he tried to make amends for an on-set argument in which he called co-star T.R. Knight a "faggot" -- outing him as gay when the fight became public.
"It sends a clear message: Black actors accused of being homophobic, no matter true or not, will more than likely not be given the benefit of the doubt and allowed to redeem themselves," she wrote, noting that ABC has lost many actors of color from important shows this season.
But Washington didn't just use the slur in a private argument. And when the argument became public, it wound up outing the actor who was the subject of the slur -- a guy who wasn't even a participant in the fight.
He then lied about the incident when asked about it during a press conference at the Golden Globe awards, repeating the slur in the process. One of his own co-stars went to the press and insisted that he own up to the incident and apologize publicly.
And when he released a statement about losing his job, he's the one who used the line "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."
If this had been a white actor who called someone the n-word in an argument, even if it was off camera, would black folks have tolerated this kind of reaction without demanding his job?
UPDATE: Washington now tells the Houston Chronicle his gay castmate -- you know, the one his angry outburst inadvertently outed in the first place -- is the one who should have been fired.
I just hope people are smart enough to see through this nonsense. The last thing we all need is a conflict between gay white people and black people because some actor with foot in mouth disease is trying to rescue his reputation.
TMZ Reveals Text From O.J. Book; Goldman Family Vows Legal Action
If anybody was going to put this out there, it would probably be TMZ, the site which brought us the Michael Richards n-word cellphone video among other celebrity news scoops.
This excerpt of O.J. Simpson's aborted If I Did It book, from a description of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, in which Simpson writes in a fictional friend named Charlie, sums up the awful absurdity of it all:
"Then something went horribly wrong, and I know what happened, but I can't tell you exactly how. I was still standing in Nicole's courtyard, of course, but for a few moments I couldn't remember how I'd gotten there, when I'd arrived, or even why I was there. Then it came back to me, very slowly: The recital-with little Sydney up on stage, dancing her little heart out; me, chipping balls into my neighbor's yard; Paula, angry, not answering her phone; Charlie, stopping by the house to tell me some more ugly shit about Nicole's behavior. Then what? The short, quick drive from Rockingham to the Bundy condo. And now?
Now I was standing in Nicole's courtyard, in the dark, listening to the loud, rhythmic, accelerated beating of my own heart. I put my left hand to my heart and my shirt felt strangely wet. I looked down at myself. For several moments, I couldn't get my mind around what I was seeing. The whole front of me was covered in blood, but it didn't compute. Is this really blood? I wondered. And whose blood is it? Is it mine? Am I hurt?"