Ahead of the release of her new film “The Birth of a Nation,” Gabrielle Union has refused to stay silent about the oppressions large and small faced by black Americans.
She’s already penned a powerful op-ed about “Nation” director Nate Parker’s rape allegations and her own history with sexual assault. Now, in a new interview with the website xoNecole, the actress believes Hollywood is long overdue for an honest conversation about white privilege, one in which she intends to involve Amy Schumer and Kate Upton.
In order to begin to see change start to occur, we have to be willing to have conversations with people who have different opinions than us. I’ve already talked to Lena Dunham; I would love to talk to Kate Upton and Amy Schumer. Maybe I can help to explain the oppressive systems that have benefited and allowed them to say these careless, insensitive and offensive things. Those conversations are awkward as f**k and they get heated. Similar to watching people have conversations about consent.
Earlier this month, Schumer was the subject of a cringeworthy interview with Lena Dunham that somehow devolved into a tone-deaf exchange about why New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. seemingly ignored Dunham at this year’s Met Gala. Dunham later apologized for contributing to the “long and often violent history of the over-sexualization of black male bodies,” while Schumer stayed silent.
The “Trainwreck” actress also recently drew fire on social media for reportedly perpetuating a racist lie about how men of color are more likely to catcall women. And Kate Upton? Ugh, just click here to see her rant about football players kneeling for the national anthem.
As for her white “Birth of a Nation” cast members like Armie Hammer and Jackie Earle Haley, Union encourages them to continue to push discussions of racial inequality to the forefront and speak out about injustice long after the current cultural moment. It’s worth noting, however, that the onus of these conversations too often falls on the shoulders of people of color.
“How aware they are of their own privilege, I don’t know because that comes with consistent behavior modification,” she continued. “We will see on their next film if they’re still talking about the necessity of addressing oppression and racial inequality.”
Union added, “It’s been very fascinating to see that so many people are so resistant to the idea of oppression in America. They think you can just pull yourself up by the bootstraps and work hard enough to achieve the American Dream. People will say, ‘My parents came from another country and didn’t speak English,’ but even so you still get the privilege of whiteness. Most of the people that I know have never truly had to function on a level playing field.”
To read more of xoNecole’s interview with Union, head here.