Dear Rosanna Arquette:
I don’t know if you were just feeling extra woke when you tweeted out a bizarrely self-hating statement on Wednesday, but your “apology” for your whiteness felt so wrong to me on so many levels. Here are your own words:
“I’m sorry I was born white and privileged. It disgusts me. And I feel so much shame.”
You’ve since locked your account and the ratio probably had a lot to do with that. I’m sure you expected much more praise than ridicule but it doesn’t look like your expectations were met.
As an op-ed writer it is easiest for me to head straight for the snark and sarcasm. A lot of people were making fun of you, and I suppose there is a bit of “ridiculous theater” housed in this statement. However, when I saw it I didn’t immediately think to laugh. In fact, it made me really sad…for you, mostly. But also for an environment in which anyone would think this is an appropriate way to speak of yourself in front of masses of people.
I’m a huge fan of the Arquette family. You and your siblings (RIP Alexis) have graced America with so much joy and energy in your performances. You yourself have been the subject of musings and hit songs from great artists. You must be quite enthralling in person. You seem to inspire great artistry.
That’s what makes me so sad. You have so much to be proud of and yet you choose to hate yourself, and not just privately but you choose to do so in public for the entertainment of millions of people. You’re an emotional cutter.
As a Black woman I do not find your sentiment particularly helpful or moving. As a woman I find it devastating to look at another woman and watch her hate herself. It isn’t a message I would want to send to my daughter, or yours, or anyone’s for that matter. Regardless of race. No woman should be encouraging other women to hate themselves. My goodness, life as an aging woman in this country is hard enough – particularly in your industry. We don’t need to make it even harder by buying into the lie that we should hate how we look.
Rosanna, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Your life is a gift. Your experience is yours alone and your perspective can be given by none other than you. No one loves like you, laughs like you, cries like you…no one is you. It doesn’t get much more special than that. Aside from that, you are insanely talented and physically beautiful to boot. You also have managed to carve out a very lucrative living doing something most Americans can only dream of. You are living the dream!
You seem to think complaining about your circumstances will engender you to poor people and minorities. All it does is make you look ungrateful. Watch the next Black artist who wins an award at the Grammys. The first or last person they thank is almost always God. That’s because they are grateful to be where they are. They don’t make apologies for themselves. They express gratitude, knowing that not everyone gets to be where they are.
Your attempt as sympathy comes off as arrogance. You aren’t even self-aware to understand how your statement could be perceived by people who have nothing.
That brings me to my other bone of contention…hypocrisy.
The only thing that has prevented me from going full-on compassionate with this post is this…I don’t believe you.
Oh, I believe you hate yourself. That’s not odd for a Hollywood actress at all. Self-loathing is probably the number one driver of most famous people. You’re being truthful about that.
What I don’t believe is that you’re actually ashamed of your privilege. I don’t believe any “woke” white person when they say that. The proof of your shame would be in the act of giving up that privilege. Brie Larson makes some great soundbites when she says it is time for more “women of color” on the main stage of the Marvel universe but I didn’t see her acquiescing her juicy role as Captain Marvel to a Black woman.
You complain about your privilege but you could easily absolve yourself from a lot of guilt by giving up what you have to someone less privileged. You don’t need all that money. Give it away. The next role you’re offered, decline and ask they cast a Latino woman in your place. The next project you fund, only hire minorities. Give up your comfortable digs in the Hollywood Hills or the farmlands of New Jersey or wherever it is you live, take an apartment in the projects and start living the non-privileged life. There’s plenty to go around.
But you won’t. You’re not serious. You don’t really loathe your privilege, you loathe that you don’t get to be a victim because victimhood is the new hotness right now…and you’re not invited. So how does a rich, White woman get in on the victim game? She makes herself a victim of herself.
2019 is the worst of timelines.
By the way, I’ve followed your family’s story over the years (at least the publicly available details). I know you’ve actually led a far from privileged life, particularly growing up. You could choose to tell that story, to lift up women who have been in that same situation, to lead with hope and grace. That would be so inspiring.
Instead you chose to lead with shame – the least inspiring emotion I can think of.
Don’t apologize for yourself, and certainly not to me. I couldn’t give a farting frog what any White lady thinks about her privilege. Walk the walk or just shut up. Or get some counseling.
I suggest the latter.