When Black Social Media’s Support Of Geoffrey Owens’ Job Becomes Hypocrisy And Irresponsible Overhype
Throughout this Labor Day weekend, I witnessed an outpour of support for another Black American social music cause lead by the it-people of Black Twitter and Black American super-left liberalism as a bullhorn to call out racism irresponsibly. Black celebrities who enjoy their newfound fame as social media justice warriors, Black Twitter kings and queens and Instagram thirst trap photo stars jumped on the bandwagon to call out Fox News for making the story of an actor from the iconic “Cosby Show” working at a Trader Joe’s market newsworthy as a racist attack on Black people.
Geoffrey Owens, who starred in the supporting role of the incidentally misogynistic Elvin Tibideaux on “The Cosby Show,” was photographed working at a Trader Joe’s as a cashier last week by a shopper who recognized the Yale-graduate actor. The shopper, Karma Lawrence, who is married to one of the store’s security guards, took the virally circulated photo of Owens ringing up groceries at his register and appeared on FOX News and The Daily Mail to talk about her allegedly innocent shock to see a well-known actor of a hugely successful TV show, from three decades ago, with an Ivy League education working at a grocery market.
“It made me feel really bad. I was like, ‘Wow, all those years of doing the show and you ended up as a cashier,” Lawrence told Fox News.
May we reach a respectable level of common sense right now? If Lawrence truly had empathy for Owens’ current career path, especially without conversation with the actor on why he chose to work as a grocery store cashier, why put Owens’ business out on social media and later take up interviews with mainstream media, especially Fox News, a media network with a reputation of highlighting Black American excellence in a demeaning manner.
By the appearance of Owens in the virally-circulated photo, Owens did not seem to be aware that Lawrence snapped a photo of him.
Guess who received the backlash from the news reporting about Owens? Fox News did. Cited as racism and shaming by the Twitter and Instagram messages shown in compilations by Huffington Post, Blavity, Essence and Mashable, Fox News was largely condemned for making a story out of Geoffrey Owens as if his current job at Trader Joe’s was a sign of him falling off career-wise after being one of American television’s most-watched shows. Fox News was rightfully condemned. But, what about Karma Lawrence sharing the photo and her “feeling sorry” for Owens? Instead of condemnation for feeding Fox News the story, she was spoken about by the same media platform as a concerned fan who had great empathy for Owens.
Lawrence did not care about Owens’ success and career path, as critiqued by Lawrence, in show business. She cared about having a moment of fame at the expense of a Black man earning a honest living, who once starred in a television show alongside one of the most disgraced Black American icons of all-time. That latter part was the attractive news angle for Fox News to hype.
If the concerned individual was a non-Black woman who gave a similar interview about a Black actress (or actor) who experienced a similar career path as Geoffrey Owens, that so-called concerned individual would be raked through Black Twitter, Black Instagram and Black online media for being misogynistic, racist and filled with toxic masculinity - the usual triggered rhetoric claimed by the it-people of Black millennial media and Black Twitter.
This news story reminds me of the time I took a job at Starbucks as a barista for three months in 2010, in the Upper West Side neighborhood in New York City, after failing to find my way to financial success as an entrepreneur in online media in 2010. That was my most humble experience at the time, because I had not worked at a fast food joint since 1994 before Starbucks. I was embarrassed by that because my previous job paid me $50K annually in Chicago and I earned noticeable achievements and financial opportunities as a blogger.
People’s increasing expectations of my successes in online media and event planning was growing and motivational at times, yet also overwhelming by my worries of what I thought that others would perceive as failure. Little did I know that I was in the middle of a deep depression caused by lack of belief in self, and giving up on self after fighting to prove myself and earn successes that were supposed to be unattainable for most of my young life. I saw my $35,000 in savings dwindle down to depending on an unemployment check while renting an apartment in New York City, to only see that run out after not landing a full-time job for months.
Applying and taking the job at Starbucks was my desperation to stay away from homelessness, after accumulating so much by age 33. That desperation furthered the depression I experienced as I was ashamed to let friends know about my predicament, and bearing the fear of giving those who I felt wanted to see me fail any ammunition to make light of my circumstance.
I am glad to see that Owens’ fame resurgence did not bring him any grief or humiliation. Instead, he shared on his newly-generated Instagram account @theggeofreyowens an enlightening message, “Life can give you a little push. Up to you on how to react, fall or push back. Thank you world.” [sic]. He also shared photos from his time on “The Cosby Show” in gratitude for his work.
Though I saw the people who condemned Fox News praise Owens for continuing to work to provide for his wife and son, we, concerned citizens of the world, must spread the message that a man’s character is not defined by his workplace, his salary, his appearance, his education or his job title. A man’s character is defined by his response to his responsibilities and respect for others and self.
We do not need to know the circumstances that led Owens to working at a Trader Joe’s. For all we know, he may be there to get the insurance benefits that actors do not receive. I know people who work at Starbucks part-time to be able to afford health insurance and other benefits. Regardless, we ought to be glad and champion all the Owens of the world, people who reached a level of public notoriety and are still making an honest living outside of the limelights of show business.
For those Black celebrities who are most concerned about Owens’ current career path, use your influences and contacts to get more prolific and stable gigs in Hollywood and stage. Be a part of the solution and not hype up the problem.