Terry Crews’ Failure to Support Gabrielle Union Is Peak Anti-Blackness

He’s turned his back on the very women he once said supported him the most

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

“It is so easy to support Black women.” — Amanda Seales

AApparently not so easy for Terry Crews. Last week, the professional football player turned actor was asked about Gabrielle Union’s allegations against America’s Got Talent during an interview with 3rd Hour of Today. His on-air response was dismissive of any validity in Union’s claims, steamrolling over the experiences she’s shared on social media and news outlets. His motivations of self-interest were transparent, especially when he sprinkled in his devotion to listening to and believing women.

Union, not one to back down, fired back at Crews’ claims, powerfully saying that those who have “bravely come forward to let everyone know I didn’t lie or exaggerate really expose those who enthusiastically will throw you under the bus, forgetting quickly who stepped up for their truth.”

When Crews shared his sexual assault story in alignment with the #MeToo movement back in 2017, Union spoke out publicly in support of his bravery and even defended his character. Crews went on to vehemently thank the many Black women in Hollywood who stood by his side. Early last year on Watch What Happens Live, he even said that the only support he got was from Black women.

Black women support Black men without question, seeing, understanding, and reacting to what Black men have to face in America today. The same is not true for Black men facing the same dilemma.

Fast forward to 2020. A few days after Union’s comments, Crews doubled down on his position via Twitter. He first tweeted a nonsensical “ancient” Flint, Michigan, proverb (something about hogs, chickens, and bacon), suggesting that he doesn’t owe Union his support. A few hours after that he expressed that the only woman he has to please is his wife, Rebecca. He goes on to intentionally mention: “Not my mother, my sister, my daughters or co-workers. I will let their husbands/ boyfriends/ partners take care of them.”

Crews’ declaration was appropriately met with a lot of backlash. Fans were disappointed to see his blatant disregard for Black women, our needs, and our advancement as a community. Juxtaposed to his outspokenness in previous years, Crews’ choice words are not only enraging and disappointing — they are indicative of a larger problem prevalent in the Black community.

WWhy is it so hard for Black men to support Black women? Why isn’t it instilled in Crews to protect Union, especially since she so easily extended support to him when he needed it?

In the Black community, we’re often faced with this dilemma: Do we sacrifice excelling within systems corrupted by White supremacy to support another Black individual, in efforts to uplift the community? More often than not, when a Black woman finds herself facing that crossroads, she will sway toward uplifting the Black community, no matter the individual in need’s gender. Black women support Black men without question, seeing, understanding, and reacting to what Black men have to face in America today.

The same is not true for Black men facing the same dilemma. When confronted with the choice between self-interest and supporting a Black woman, we’ve seen Black men sway toward personal success way too many times.

Terry Crews made a choice. It was his career — potential future checks from America’s Got Talent and huge media conglomerates — or Gabrielle Union, a Black actress, his peer, his co-worker, who gathered the immense courage and knowledge of her own power to tell her truth.

If Black men themselves want to be liberated, to enjoy the freedom of success and prosperity absent of crippling worry, sadness, and stress, they have to play a more active and genuine role in advocating for Black women.

Black men have a closer proximity to the trials and tribulations of Black women. There should be a standard or, as Amanda Seales mentioned on The Real, a “code” that Black men adhere to when it comes to protecting Black women. Their negligent behavior continues to put Black women in societal solitary confinement, an effort way too many people contribute to. This marginalization is so targeted and viscous, it bleeds into how other women treat Black women. Black women continually have to fight for a seat at the table in the feminist movement — a demand for women’s rights that we should be at the center of. All of this mistreatment and dismissal is interconnected. Black women deserve advocates of all genders and backgrounds — starting with Black men.

LLike Crews, most Black men think they’re doing their part, learning over time how to do just enough and camouflage their negligence. Preoccupied with the energy and strength it takes to be a Black man in America, Black men have settled into a standard of care that is minimal at best. They say all the right things. They talk about believing us and listening to us. They call us queens. Some even regurgitate Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, and Eartha Kitt to flex both a knowledge of history and a devotion to awareness and understanding.

It’s not enough. The jig is up. The hollowness in those diatribes is painfully apparent. Black men need to do a little less talking, and a lot more action. As a Black community, we are doing ourselves a disservice if we neglect to protect, support, and advocate for each other. Someone once told me eloquently that once you release and free the most oppressed, it’s going to be easier to liberate everybody else. If Black men themselves want to be liberated, to enjoy the freedom of success and prosperity absent of crippling worry, sadness, and stress, they have to play a more active and genuine role in advocating for Black women.

We’ve shied away from talking about the privilege Black men have. Being Black and the realities of that experience have, rightfully so, dominated the conversation when it comes to Black men, their reality, and their role in society. However, as men, they still carry the weight of privilege. Their lens is still tinted with the power of being in a society that was built with patriarchal infrastructure. Black men need to check their own privilege, and as a community, we need to figure out how to explore that privilege in a way that doesn’t diminish Black men, their truth, or their needs.

Reverting back to Amanda Seales’ comments on The Real, supporting Black women is easy. “I think I speak for a lot of sisters when I say it’s part of the bigger conversation of Black women earnestly wanting the support from our brothers when we are speaking out and speaking up,” she says on the show, as her fellow co-hosts and the show’s audience members nod in agreement.

In this new decade, let’s, as Black women, continue to demand the standard of Black men be raised. While it shouldn’t be on us to fix a community or explain to people how they can best support us, the way forward is speaking up on the hypocrisy, and speaking up when it isn’t enough. Hopefully Union’s refusal to let Crews’ outlandish responses to her truth inspires further conversation about this injustice within the Black community.

Kenyan-American. Lover of Toni Morrison, Astrology, and Whitney Houston. I write about culture, blackness, health and love. Email: kuikmwai@gmail.com

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