Posts Tagged ‘Black Monday’

Janelle James Puts Her White Fans To Work. Justice Work.

September 24, 2020

Today is Janelle James’s birthday. I’m sure it already sucked to bring it in during Covid-19, but today has further been marred by the charges (or lack thereof) brought to the officers who killed Louisville Kentucky EMT and essential worker Breonna Taylor. Though there were three officers who fired shots that injured and ultimate killed Taylor, only one officer, Brett Hankison, has been indicted–and not for her murder, but for three counts of “wanton endangerment” for firing so many shots, they could have hurt her neighbors in the next unit. So basically, the possibility of hurting people got one ex-cop charged, for essentially shooting through walls. Ballistic evidence confirmed Officer Cosgrove fired the fatal shot. Cosgrove was still cleared by the grand jury’s investigation, as was Officer Mattingly.

Today, the walls of Breonna Taylor’s apartment got more justice than her own human flesh.

That’s why Black people still have to make a point to remind the world that Black Lives Matter.

While known for being a razor sharp humorist with her own Netflix special and more recently, a writer for Showtime’s Black Monday (she also acts on the series), Janelle James is equally serious about her family, her money and Black lives. In June of 2020, when America was on fire from an explosion of unrest, peaceful protests and violent counter protests in the aftermath of the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd among others, James found herself surrounded by white people on social media. Fortunately, they were not an angry mob of mad MAGA hatters. They were her fans, who expressed rage, confusion and a desire to make a difference in whatever way they could. So she put them to work. She offered to match any funds she received from her fans to support protestors.

Considering the relative silence of the celebrity community while Black people were literally being hunted, Janelle kept speaking out on her social pages and put her money where her mouth is. I got some time with her ahead of the launch of her new podcast, You In Danger Gurl to talk allyship when ain’t a damn thing funny.

TM: Explain what the opportunity was for your Facebook friends. You offered to match funds to support protesters, correct?

JJ: Yep. I offered to match funds for any donation made to a protestor support organization up to $5000.  

TM: How did you determine which organizations to support? 

JJ: NY is my heart, so I originally was all in to support the Brooklyn Bailout Fund. However, by the time I went to donate, they were stating that they were flush (hurray) and pointing donations in the direction of other organizations. After some reading up, I decided to split the money between We The Protestors, Inc. and both the Philly and Chicago bail out funds.  

TM: How did people donate?

JJ: I didn’t want to handle or be responsible for anyone’s money, so I asked that people donate [to organizations directly], then send me the receipts.  

TM: It seemed to happen fast. How long did it take to raise the $10K?

JJ: It took about an hour.  

TM: Were you surprised at the response? 

JJ: Nope. A lot of my followers are white and I know that they were looking to be pointed in a direction to help. I know this because they were asking me which can quickly get annoying when there are hundreds of people asking the same questions.  It seemed to help white people work through how to be an ally with their resources.

TM: You joke about all the white fans you have. Were you trying to guide or mobilize them? Or did it just work our that way?

JJ: I was. I also wanted them white dollars. It’s the LEAST they can do. 

TM: On a personal note, I know I am tired of this fight falling on deaf ears of leaders and white people who seem to love Black culture, but not Black people. What should white people tell other white people about this moment?

JJ: Listen to Black people. Don’t immediately start defending yourself from perceived attack. These are hard conversations to be had. But in the end, you can come out of it as a good person who doesn’t contribute to the pain of a whole race of people. Is that not worth it?  

TM: In addition to the podcast and the Janelle James Comedy Festival, what’s coming up next for you work-wise?

JJ: Maaaaan, look. The ‘Rona got everything up in the air but I’m still currently employed on Central Park, an animated show on Apple tv.

You can follow Janelle Jameson Facebook and on IG @janellejamescomedy. Everyone, please join me in wishing her a happy birthday–now and for the rest of the week. And if you’re white, say less, listen more, and donate to worthy causes that center and improve Black lives. Periodt.