Guest CzarnaWisnia Posted September 16, 2019 Share Posted September 16, 2019 Why I Quit the Writers’ Room The worst thing you can do to citizens of a democracy is silence them. By Walter Mosley (Mr. Mosley is a novelist and screenwriter.) Sept. 6, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/06/opinion/sunday/walter-mosley.html Earlier this year, I had just finished with the “Snowfall” writers’ room for the season when I took a similar job on a different show at a different network. I’d been in the new room for a few weeks when I got the call from Human Resources. A pleasant-sounding young man said, “Mr. Mosley, it has been reported that you used the N-word in the writers’ room.” I replied, “I am the N-word in the writers’ room.” He said, very nicely, that I could not use that word except in a script. I could write it but I could not say it. Me. A man whose people in America have been, among other things, slandered by many words. But I could no longer use that particular word to describe the environs of my experience. I have to stop with the forward thrust of this story to say that I had indeed said the word in the room. I hadn’t called anyone it. I just told a story about a cop who explained to me, on the streets of Los Angeles, that he stopped all N*****s in paddy neighborhoods and all paddies in N***** neighborhoods, because they were usually up to no good. I was telling a true story as I remembered it. Someone in the room, I have no idea who, called H.R. and said that my use of the word made them uncomfortable, and the H.R. representative called to inform me that such language was unacceptable to my employers. I couldn’t use that word in common parlance, even to express an experience I lived through. There I was, a black man in America who shares with millions of others the history of racism. And more often than not, treated as subhuman. If addressed at all that history had to be rendered in words my employers regarded as acceptable. There I was being chastised for criticizing the word that oppressed me and mine for centuries. As far as I know, the word is in the dictionary. As far as I know, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence assure me of both the freedom of speech and the pursuit of happiness. How can I exercise these freedoms when my place of employment tells me that my job is on the line if I say a word that makes somebody, an unknown person, uncomfortable? There’s all kinds of language that makes me uncomfortable. Half the utterances of my president, for instance. Some people’s sexual habits and desires. But I have no right whatsoever to tell anyone what they should and should not cherish or express. A few years ago when a group of my peers said that they supported outlawing the Confederate flag, I demurred. Don’t get me wrong. I have no warm and fuzzy feelings about that flag, but I do know that all Americans have the right of self-expression. (Also, if someone has that flag in their mind, I’d prefer to see it on their front porch too.) Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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