What Happens When Matt Damon Tries To Explain Diversity To A Black Woman?

September 14, 2015  |  

In my mind I categorize White people in two ways. Woke White folks, the ones who have a grasp, if not a complete understanding, of the type of oppression people of color, particularly Black people, experience in this country and those who just don’t get it.

Before today, I thought Matt Damon was one of the ones who got it. I don’t know why I made this assumption but I did.

And today, I relearned the lesson that assumptions make an ass out of you and me.

Yesterday, HBO kicked off the fourth season of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s passion project “Project Greenlight.” In this reality series, the two veteran actors offer the opportunity for up and coming filmmakers to direct and produce new projects. But it’s not just Affleck and Damon. They utilize the help of a team of producers. This Sunday it was several White men, one White woman and Effie Brown.

Brown is an experienced filmmaker who has produced more than seventeen feature films, including Dear White People.

The group met to discuss candidates for Not Another Pretty Woman, a comedy described as a “girl leaves boy at the altar, boy falls in love with a Black prostitute” story.

When discussing the project, Brown suggests that it would be wise to consider directors from a diverse background, particularly since the only person of color in the film is a prostitute. And to make matters worse, she’s slapped by a White pimp. She wanted to insure that the character wasn’t racist, sexist or problematic.

But Damon didn’t think that was necessary.

In a room full of White people, and mostly men, Damon interrupts Brown to explain diversity to her. And not only explain it, explain the confines in which it should happen.

“When we’re talking about diversity you do it in the casting of the film not in the casting of the show.”

As if to say, there was no need to hire diverse filmmakers for “Project Greenlight” it only matters that people of color are represented on screen.


Brown had the perfect response, “Wow. Ok.”

If there were people of color writing the screenplays, producing films and sitting in the director’s chair maybe the only Black person in the piece wouldn’t be a prostitute abused by a White man in the first place. It’s a cyclical relationship.

I’m honestly shocked.

But maybe I shouldn’t be. When you’re a White man who’s been winning in the industry, with your White friends, who’ve also been winning, maybe it is a stretch for you to see outside of your own experiences and open doors for people of color and different lifestyles.


Thankfully, folks on Twitter were quick to let Damon know he was living foul.

Check out a brief clip from the interaction below.

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