It’s a story as old as time. A white woman is shamed publicly for acting out, 2-3 days pass, the anger of black twitter doesn’t die down so they go to PEOPLE and release a vague apology taking no direct responsibility and promising to learn. Simple. Easy. Usually gets the job done. Why? Because no one really expects much for someone who shows their ass in the 21st century. But this time it’s different.
When Samantha Marie Ware publicly accused Lea Michele of being a disrespectful asshole she was specific. According to her, while she was working on Glee, the melanin-deficit tyrant made Ware’s life a “living hell”, made her question her career choices, and even went so far as to tell her co-workers that if given the chance, she’d “shit” in Ware's wig.
First and foremost disrespecting a woman’s right to good hair is unforgivable. A good wig is expensive and LEWKS should never be sacrificed even for petty squabbles. Furthermore, the incidents feel targeted. Samantha was only on Glee for 11 episodes and was not a part of the original cast, so this “beef” came and went with her presence.
In her apology, Michele claims to not remember saying those words but admits that it’s irrelevant, “What matters is that I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people”.
So far so good. But never underestimate the ability of privilege to show up and be trash.
Michele continues her “apology” with “One of the most important lessons of the last few weeks is that we need to take the time to listen and learn about other people's perspectives and any role we have played or anything we can do to help address the injustices that they face”. The whiteness jumps out and she says “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”. She goes on to mention that she’s pregnant and wants to be better. Blah blah blah. Read the full statement here.
As of now, Samantha Ware hasn’t publicly responded to the apology. I can only imagine it’s from a lack of ability “to even”. Assuming that the actress is tired and has been through enough, I’m happy to drag Ms. Michele in her absence.
1. Lea Michele co-opting a #BLM moment as a way to shield herself from personality attacks is pathetic. You’re not a cop Lea you’re an asshole. You aren't learning the eras of your implicit bias. You should not have needed these “last few weeks” to learn how to be a decent person.
2. The fact that her apology was not inward-looking but instead outward-facing is cowardly. It doesn’t matter if Samantha ever learned of your childish remarks, you should still be remorseful. Apologizing for how your actions and words make people feel is moral relativism. You’re not sorry you said it, you’re sorry she heard it and got upset. Bullshit.
3. This was not an isolated incident so why was it an isolated apology. I would respect Ms. Michele a lot more had she released a longer statement apologizing for the hostile work environment she created where marginalized people - be them black, or just extras - felt like they had no voice and no seat at the table. Literally, there is a story about how Lea turned "extras" away from a party and didn’t let them sit with the star cast on set. What even is that?
4. Lastly, we need to name the beast. What Lea did was more than a snarky remark. It was work-place harassment with racial undertones. It violates even the most basic of HR standards and should be treated as a breach of contract. Lea should donate her Glee salary from the 11 episodes Samantha was on to non-profits focusing on black mental health. Why? Because she shouldn’t have been paid for the period and that money is dirty. Clean it up.
It’s unfortunate that an incident amongst co-workers was made public but now that we’re here we must set an example. We can no longer allow bad behavior to be expected, criticized, rejected, and forgotten. We must hold all of our friends, family, peers, and celebrities to a higher standard of humanity. Remorse is no longer a suitable response to bad behavior, especially in the workplace. We’re looking for equity, parity, and restorative justice. And if we can’t have that, can we at least get some respect.