As you may have heard, Lea Michele tweeted a message of support for Black Lives Matter the other day and then got exposed by Samantha Marie Ware for her bullying. Several of Lea’s other former colleagues also piped up to share similar experiences or to confirm (through likes) that Lea was indeed horrible to work with. Lea has now “apologised” – first via PEOPLE exclusive and then a post on Instagram:
Yesterday in response to Maria’s post about Lea, we got an interesting email from someone who disagreed with the tone of the article. Here’s the main point of the message:
“I'll start by saying that I believe that Lea Michele did all of the nasty things that people are saying she did.
But, is it possible that she has learned something since then? Is it really a positive thing to do to attack her for putting the statement she put on twitter?
I can also understand that the people who were the subject of her nastiness would want to respond to her, but it could be done in a much more positive manner than attacking her. "I'm glad to see you feel this way now, as I felt I was the subject of black person abuse from you in the past.". I'm just disappointed that these opportunities can't be used to continue a positive conversation/build positivity rather than redirecting her well-meaning statement to negative ones. The hateful responses might even change her mind, and the mind of others who are finally recognizing their own racism and choosing to change their behaviour.”
I’m including this not to call out our reader but because these are the conversations we should be having if we want to practise positive allyship. My issue with processing the situation this way, questioning whether or not Samantha should have softened her words, suggesting that Samantha could have edited out the anger in Samantha’s words is that, well, it polices Samantha’s anger. The lead actress on a show she was working on told her she would “sh-t in her wig”. She made her life “hell”. And Samantha finally found the opportunity to express it. WHY should she minimise it? Change cannot happen until wrongdoing is fully acknowledged, until the people who do the hurting get how badly they hurt people.
But also, focusing on how Lea was attacked once again centers Lea, a white woman, in a situation where a Black woman was wronged. This is the perspective we all have to shift – and I’m guilty of it too. If we can properly focus the attention on where it should be, we can begin to empathise with those who have been treated unfairly, instead of only seeing an issue from the lens of the bully, in this case Lea Michele. And then, yes, of course let’s move towards a solution.
Which brings us to her apology. It’s … bullsh-t.
"But the responses I received to what I posted have made me also focus specifically on how my own behavior towards fellow cast members was perceived by them."
That’s not exactly ownership if she’s putting it on how people “perceived” her actions. They were her actions. WHAT OTHER WAY IS THERE TO PERCEIVE YOU TELLING SOMEONE YOU WOULD SH-T IN THEIR WIG?!?
Next, leading with “while I don’t remember” and “I have never judged based on skin colour” helps no one. It once again distances her from her mistakes.
And then there’s this word salad:
"Whether it was my privileged position and perspective that caused me to be perceived as insensitive or inappropriate at times or whether it was just my immaturity and me just being unnecessarily difficult, I apologize for my behavior and for any pain which I have caused.”
My privilege caused me to be perceived as insensitive… ?
So your privilege misled people into thinking she was one way when she’s not?! What does this even mean?
It means that Lea doesn’t get it. For sure she doesn’t get it because an apology has to be specific, not only about what you did, but about who you did it to. Lea doesn’t name Samantha. She doesn’t name anyone. Which means she’s ERASED Samantha from the situation. And now we’re layering microaggression on top of microaggression. Because not only is Lea basically invalidating Samantha’s experience, she TOOK HER OUT OF THE EXPERIENCE.
And where does that leave us? Well, sure, a second chance. Let her try again. Even though Black people and other POCs don’t often get second chances, this is one privilege that Lea should take advantage of, and give it another go.