URGENT UPDATE: Wednesday, September 20th, 2021, 3:57 PM EST
To Orlando Jones and his family, friends and fans reading this article, we are facing a dire threat as a massive tsunami is potentially on the way caused by the massive volcano at Canary Island that is erupting at this very minute. Please read “FLOOD REVELATION ALERT! ” to find out the latest and seek higher elevations NOW!
.@TheOrlandoJones, you & I had a convo about helping an initiative you are working on related to prison reform. Despite your fame/riches, you put "the least among us" first. I ask you to spread this message & liberate humanity from bondage. #BrokenSparrow https://t.co/EBum0mS3go
— Teodrose Fikremariam (@Teodrose_Fikre) October 20, 2021
Let me admit from the outset that I was very conflicted about writing this article. This morning, Orlando Jones, an acclaimed comedian and actor, retweeted one of the articles I wrote that heretofore has been avoided by anyone who is part of the “establishment”. The article in question touched on the third rail that is race and identity in America; a third rail that burns violently those who have the courage to speak the truth about this most sensitive of subjects. It takes courage to speak the truth on this topic for the consequences faced by those who deviate from the race orthodoxy is swift defamation of one’s character and the repercussions that follow.
So I was more than mildly surprised when Orlando Jones not only read the article, he went one step further to send it out to his network of fans and followers. The reason I was in a bind about whether or not to write about his action and in the process praise him for his valor is because I did not want this article to be one of quid pro quo and in the process use the platform that I’ve been entrusted to give kudos to someone based on what someone did for me. After all, aside from the times I have seen his shows and his comedy routines, I don’t know Orlando Jones any more than I know anyone else I see on TV or follow on social media. But after much reflection and contemplation, I decided to write this article for one reason–I have to acknowledge an act of courage when I see it.
It’s funny how this universe works at times. Two days ago, I signed up for Netflix and the first thing I decided to watch was Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up comedy series. Besides the fact that Dave Chapelle is back at it as he uses wit and side-splitting humor to discuss society’s most divisive social taboos, there was one bit that Dave talked about that hit me like a thunderbolt. As he was relaying his absence from Hollywood for the past ten years and how the industry swallowed the whole one of its most talented stars, he said something that made me take note of what happens when stars decide to not play by the rules.
He was relaying how “black media” got on his case for not showing up to a Flint, Michigan benefit as he attended the Oscars instead. Chappelle was vilified for making this decision and he went on to describe a run-in he had with a particular reporter. The reporter was grilling him for not making it to Flint and David said in response, allow me to paraphrase, “where were you at while I was getting destroyed, where was my support as I was chased off the TV and had to watch Key and Peele co-opt my show and thrive while I was blackballed”. This is a common theme in Hollywood, fame and fortune are heaped on those who toe the line. Condemnation and consequences are given to those who choose to be authentic. This happened to Lauryn Hill, Dave Chappelle, and endless stars who refused to submit to Hollywood masters.
We laugh most at the jokes of comedians when their jokes hit home and connect to a pain we feel deep inside. We live in an age of outrage after outrage but few of us are willing to come to the side of those in distress as we fight for justice in far-off places. What Dave Chappelle went through is not a one-off incident. Star after star have seen their careers cut short and many more have been effectively blacklisted because they refused to keep silent and do as they are told. In a sense, fame and fortune become chains and slavery for those who have been blessed by Hollywood elites. The stars we see in movies and the rich and famous we follow like idols have to live under the constant threat of their livelihood being yanked away.
This is a mark on Hollywood that goes back to the era of the “Red Scare” as a purity and loyalty tests were imposed on actors, actresses and any major figure associated with the entertainment industry. Ronald Reagan rose to fame because he took part in this miscarriage of justice as he was one of the main actors who imposed standards and restrictions on the very free speech we cherish. Though Hollywood looks back at the age of blacklisting and expulsion with a sense of shame and disgust, in many ways this practice never ended–it just evolved and took on new forms.
Instead of the Red Scare and the threat of communism being used as a cudgel on stars and entertainment industry players, what is used now is whisper campaigns and political correctness to destroy the lives and careers of anyone who dares to question the Hollywood matrix. Like everything else in this world, even among the rich and wealthy, there are the elites among the elite and the uber-wealthy who are able to use their money and influence to cow people into compliance. You see, it is easy for someone like me to speak truth to power. My livelihood is not dependent on paychecks from the moneyed gentry and, in the big scheme of things, Ghion Journal is just a blip on the radar. But would I retain this courage if Ghion Journal was making me millions and I became super famous? I would like to think I would, but I know just how corrosive proximity to power is and how fame can blend away someone’s courage.
Outrageous! I don’t know why people don’t get together and do a class action lawsuit! 🙏
— Alana Stewart (@AlanaKStewart) August 28, 2021
It is for this reason I am writing about Orlando Jones. I researched his work and more importantly spent the day going up and down his timeline on Twitter. I wanted to see if the one act of courage he took to tweet out one of my more fiery articles was just an incident or part of a broader pattern. What I discovered is that Orlando Jones is not afraid to delve into issues that splinter our country and he does so not based on partisan or ideological lines but speaks up based on truth as he sees it. While I might not agree with all of his stances, I am nonetheless inspired by his audacity to state his beliefs instead of running behind political correctness and tired dogmas.
This man is not to be dismissed as just a comedian. He is a thinker who dares to question the paradigm and to push the boundaries. It would be easy to collect checks and utter platitudes to make it seem like he is “woke”. Orlando Jones instead chooses authenticity and to incite discussion even though doing so comes with consequences. Deviating from the script that “black actors” are supposed to speak from and refusing to be either a liberal toady or a conservative stooge and instead choosing to speak from the heart is apt to get one run out of Hollywood. This is why so many stars choose the road oft traveled and refuse to use their voice to speak up and speak against injustice. Most are just acting it out as they pretend to be social justice warriors when in reality they are demagoguing in order to get their next movie role.
I am glad to see that there are those who don’t let fame and status be their gods and instead use their status to speak the truth as they see it. Orlando belongs in the latter, the roles he chooses to play are those that have depth to them. He had one of the most moving scenes in “American Gods”, a series that uses mythology and deities to relay the history and narrative of America. Orlando plays the part of a god who uses foreshadowing to recently enslaved “Africans” as they are stuck in the bottom of a cargo ship. Art is being used to preach a message of resistance and defiance over a life of subservience and submission even if the decision to rise up leads to severe consequences. Sometimes actors speak to us through movies if we are just able to listen.Salute to Orlando Jones, thank you for lending your voice to my article; more importantly, thank you for speaking the truth that is in your heart. #Jones4Courage Click To Tweet
I am grateful to Orlando Jones for tweeting out not only the Jason Whitlock article but for doubling down and sending out another article I wrote about the real culprits behind the death of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. I know I condemn a lot of personalities in the media who choose to use their status to spread lies and pass them off as historical truths. But I should spend equal time highlighting profiles in courage of folks like Dave Chappelle and Orlando Jones who take a stand. Ultimately, we as consumers can choose to reward those who choose valor over status. Let us do more to support those who speak up instead of listening to those who pretend to be “black leaders” when all along they are overseers.
“The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity.” ~ Rollo May
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