| Amy Pascal’s racist emails are confirmation of the manipulative, exploitative relationship corporations like Sony have with Black folks.
Demand Amy Pascal be fired from Sony Pictures Entertainment immediately.
Rashad Robinson, ColorOfChange.org
What is it about the culture over at Sony Entertainment, that made its co-chair Amy Pascal think her racially charged email exchanges would be not only tolerated, but endorsed by other Hollywood power players? We bet Pascal never thought her racist sentiments — at the expense of President Obama, Black Hollywood, and essentially all of Black America — would escape the halls (and computers) of Sony.
She was wrong. Leaked email exchanges unearthed last week feature Pascal and producer Scott Rudin guessing what the President’s favorite films are: “Django,” “12 years,” “Or the butler. Or think like a man?,” “Ride Along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”1 In a separate email chain, another Sony executive labels Hart — one of the most successful comedians in America — a “whore” for daring to ask for a salary increase for his next film, a standard practice for successful actors. In an even more troubling exchange, Pascal asserts that for celebrities, getting their own TV show is “the new Black baby,” in essence likening Black children to some disposable, fad accessory like a trendy watch or the latest iphone.2
Send a message to Sony that this kind of behavior should not be tolerated by joining us in demanding they fire Amy Pascal today.
Contrary to what Amy Pascal and her pals in Hollywood seem to believe, Black babies are more than some fad or trendy accessory, as are the incredible efforts of our Black entertainers, the stories that result from their hardships, and the hard-earned money Black audiences spend in movie theaters nationwide. And running to Reverend Al Sharpton to start a “healing process” (and save her job) doesn’t even begin to address the larger problem.3 Pascal’s comments are confirmation of the manipulative, exploitative relationship corporations like Sony have with Black folks. Our genius, our cultural products, and our $1.1 Trillion in buying power are not given the respect they deserve, regardless of the massive sums of money they result in for people like Amy Pascal.
We must hold Amy Pascal accountable here; not just for her horrendous comments, but also for her role at the helm of a corporate agenda that views Black America as one big, lucrative joke.
Join us in demanding that Amy Pascal be relieved of her duties at Sony Pictures Entertainment immediately.
Though we think Amy Pascal’s behavior is reprehensible, make no mistake — this isn’t just one employee’s problem. Sony has an institution-wide issue. The disturbing sentiments expressed in emails by Pascal and others convey a deeply problematic workplace philosophy and environment that can have far reaching implications and consequences. Another leaked email, penned by an unnamed Black woman formerly employed at the company, involves accusations of rampant workplace racism and sexism at Sony.4 Her complaints were ignored, an unsurprising decision from a company where racist jokes are acceptable content in work emails.
These email exchanges also underscore a larger marginalization of the talents of Black entertainers and the exploitation of Black audiences by Sony. Recent films released by Sony starring predominantly Black casts or Black actors and actresses in lead roles have netted the company a profit of over $1 billion worldwide since 2011. How lucrative do Black films need to be — and how loyal do Black audiences need to be — for executives like Amy Pascal to treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve, both on and off screen?
Tell Sony Pictures Entertainment to fire Amy Pascal. It will only take a moment.
This story of exploitation and marginalization is not foreign to some of Black Hollywood’s heaviest hitters, who’ve reacted with a knowing dismay at Pascal’s sentiments. Ava DuVernay, who just last week became the first Black woman nominated for a Best Director Golden Globe for the upcoming film “Selma,” told the Daily Beast, “I thought it was a great gift to me to be reminded of that kind of sad, limited, crass view of the work that people do in this industry who are not from the dominant culture.” TV writer and creator Shonda Rhimes also weighed in on Twitter, asserting, “Calling Sony comments ‘racially insensitive remarks’ instead of ‘racist’? U can put a cherry on a pile of sh*t but it don’t make it a sundae.”5
This issue extends far beyond Sony. The images of Black folks we see across our media landscape shape the perceptions of viewers. When those perceptions are acted upon, they can mean real-life harm for Black people; less attention from doctors, harsher sentences from judges, and discriminatory practices in the workplace, just to name a few.6 Judging by what these tasteless jokes say about Amy Pascal’s attitudes towards Black people, we don’t think she has any business sitting at the top of an influential, media juggernaut like Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Stand with us and demand Amy Pascal be fired from Sony now.
Thanks and Peace,
–Rashad, Arisha, Matt, Brandi, Dallas and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.
December 16, 2014
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1. “Film Executives apologize for racially-tinged emails about Obama,” New York Times, 12-11-14
2. “Sony exec Amy in ANOTHER race row for saying TV deals are so popular they’re the ‘new black baby’ that everyone wants,” Daily Mail, 12-15-14
3. “Al Shaprton will meet with Sony exec who sent racist emails about Obama,” Business Insider, 12-13-14
4. “Sony employee alleges rampant workplace racism in leaked email,” Daily Mail, 12-12-14
5. “‘Selma’ Director Ava DuVernay Calls Racist Sony Emails ‘Sad, Limited, Crass,” Huffington Post, 12-15-14
6. “Media Representations and Impact on the Lives of Black Men and Boys,” The Opportunity Agenda