As we enter week 2 of global protests against police brutality, public figures and brands (and, in more than a few cases, their PR) are beginning to recognize the need to take a firm public stance—one that is preferably on the right side of history. Most of the statements tend to skate by with little more than a temporary wave of public acknowledgement. Then there are cases like that of Glee’s Lea Michele, whose statements might strike somewhat of a, ahem, sour note. (“Please let that be the only Glee pun,” you plea? IT WON’T BE.)
Like many others, Michele took a moment to acknowledge the murder of George Floyd in a very brief tweet, ending the note with #BlackLivesMatter:
All of that is nice and somewhat better than not recognizing it at all, sure. However, if the sentiment doesn’t come from a genuine place—more specifically, if you aren’t elevating the voices of Black figures speaking on the matter, or even treating the Black people in your personal and professional life with basic kindness—then the effort is always going to fall, uh, flat. Case in point: As Michele’s tweet gained steam, fellow Glee alum Samantha Marie Ware was quick to call her out, claiming that leading woman treated her horrifically on set, outwardly wishing to “shit in [Ware’s] wig” and spouting other microaggressions that made her first major job in television “a living hell.”
As of now, no other former cast members have come forward to sing Michele’s praises (last one, we promise) or solidly confirm Ware’s claims. However, co-stars Amber Riley and Alex Newell tweeted vague responses shortly after Ware’s.
And RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Willam even chimed in with his own experience as a guest star, which aligns more with Ware’s account. As of right now, Michele has yet to respond to any of the claims made against her.
Obviously there are way bigger issues to focus on at the moment and any messages that promote justice and equity are key. But it’s also important to practice what you preach and to hold others who don’t accountable if we wish to ever see actual change. Talk unaccompanied by action and sustained behavior will lead to absolutely nothing.
And that’s what you missed on Glee (Twitter)!
UPDATE, 3:11 PM CST: Welp! In an example of actions having consequences, meal kit company HelloFresh has ended its partnership with Michele in the wake of Ware’s comments. The company confirmed the split in a tweeted response to a user, who was pointing out the potential for backlash.
Looking for ways to advocate for Black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved