We really haven’t had any major issues with model turned host Heidi Klum. Still, with all the privileges that come with being a pretty, rich, skinny, White woman, we can’t exactly say we’re surprised when she speaks in ways that shine a spotlight on her ignorance regarding race and discrimination.
For months now, we’ve been writing about the way actress Gabrielle Union was unceremoniously fired from the hit show “America’s Got Talent.” While NBC simply announced that her contract would not be extended, a report from Variety claimed that race may have had something to do with her termination. There were reports that Union complained of a racist joke Jay Leno made on set toward Asian people. (The joke was recorded but later cut from the show.) And there were reportedly complaints that Union’s numerous hair styles were “too Black” for the show’s audience.
There have been investigations launched into to Simon Cowell‘s company Syco Entertainment, which produces the show. NBC has also said that they will adopt new practices if their investigation finds discriminatory practices taking place within the network.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and I don’t doubt that NBC and Simon Cowell’s company, all run by White men, have a problem with racism. I don’t have to say that we believe Gabrielle. But if there’s any confusion about that, we do.
“I’ve only had an amazing experience,” the 46-year-old former AGT judge said. “I can’t speak for [Gabrielle]. I didn’t experience the same thing. To me, everyone treats you with the utmost respect. I’ve never seen anything that was weird or hurtful.”
Klum is currently a judge on an AGT spinoff called “America’s Got Talent: Champions.”
As the mother of biracial children or just a concerned citizen in this world, Heidi has to do better than this. Of course, you, a White woman, haven’t experienced racial discrimination. There was no chance that people were going to tell her the choices she made with her hair were too “Black” or didn’t appeal to their audience. You’re not Black, sis. The world responds to you differently. I don’t know her intention, but her response leaves room for the interpretation that she doesn’t trust or believe Union’s claims. While she was right to share the truth about her own experiences, I would have liked to see her hold space for the possibility that Union might have a different one. Because as a White person, it does a disservice not to acknowledge the probability of racism in predominately White spaces.
Klum is still working with AGT, so perhaps she was afraid to ruffle any feathers or jeopardize her check. But I would have liked to see more allegiance directed toward Gabrielle and her concerns, given that they could easily be the experiences of her children and the fact that speaking up against injustice and wearing hair styles that exhibit cultural pride are the rights of human beings everywhere.
As you can imagine, when people learned of Klum’s comments, they had a few things to say. Check them out on the following pages.