Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the shoes that Crews wore to the 2019 Grammy Awards. Crews was wearing high boots to the award ceremony. This has been corrected.
Fans of actor and muscleman Terry Crews think he’s funny but some Black people feel his humor is embarrassing and have called his pec-shaking act a minstrel show.
Crews is a former professional football player, who, upon retiring from the NFL in 1997, took a shot at acting. He appeared on the extreme sports show “Battle Dome” (1999) and made his big-screen debut in “The 6th Day” in 2000. Crews’ breakout role was Julius Rock in the UPN/CW hit sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris,” which aired from 2005 to 2009. Since then, he’s been in several movies –“Serving Sara” (2002), “Friday After Next” (2002), “Deliver Us from Eva” (2003), “Soul Plane” (2004), “White Chicks” (2004) — and TV shows.
But as Crews has gained more popularity, he has said and done things that have sparked controversy. Earlier this month, Crews appeared in a video ad for e-commerce giant Amazon. Almost immediately, there was backlash as the video was seen as propaganda against workers, who have complained about working conditions at Amazon.
Crews critics complain that the Amazon incident is just more evidence of his career being a “minstrel show.”
Minstrel shows began with the creation of the controversial character Jim Crow by white performer Thomas Rice wearing blackface in 1828, according to American Heritage. The character was a racist depiction of Black Americans and centered around a song-and-dance act supposedly modeled after a slave. Rice “acted like a buffoon, and spoke with an exaggerated and distorted imitation of African-American vernacular English,” Ferris State University reported.
In the popular blog, “Home Is Where the Hate Is: The Triangle,” writer Mr. Odessa penned a post entitled, “An Epiphany About the Minstrel Show That is Terry Crews.”
“For the past several years, actor Terry Crews has made a big fucking spectacle of himself for the sake of gaining brownie points with radical feminists and their push to label masculinity as ‘toxic’… Since he was sexually ‘assaulted’ by an apparent white male groupie (Hollywood executive) who made a gay pass at him, he has been going on futile crusades in public and town hall meetings, saying that he felt ‘emasculated,’” Mr. Odessa wrote, noting that Crews should have reacted more aggressively to the offender.
According to Mr. Odessa, Crews’ reaction and confession are a mere play for “brownie” points with women and white Hollywood.
“If you doubt that he’s doing this to sustain himself, consider how he apologized to women for watching porn and then encourages other men to stop watching porn – which is just as pathetic. I mean, why apologize to women for having normal, biological sexual urges – especially when it’s a matter of your own private life and is no one else’s business?”
Mr. Odessa noted that some of Crews’ roles have included playing a “crossdresser one minute, then a hypermasculine thug the next.” Crews also showed up at the 2019 Grammy Awards wearing a purse and high boots.
Many on Twitter agreed with Mr. Odessa.
When Crews tweeted an anti-Black Lives Matter post in 2020, New Yorker journalist Jelani Cobb responded. “If you are a child of God, you are my brother and sister. I have family of every race creed and ideology. We must ensure #blacklivesmatter doesn’t morph into #blacklivesbetter. The worst minstrels are the ones who never needed shoe polish.”
“Terry Crews has been a walking minstrel show his entire career, Idk why I was surprised that it wasn’t an act. The fact that he is double, triple,& quadrupling down is sad…to say the least. If this is what it takes count me tf out!” Gřɛɠ Kɛŋŋɛɖყ @JussGregK tweeted in 2020.
Journalist Richard Newby tweeted, “Whenever I see Terry Crews trending I know I’m about to see some dumb shit. *Looks* YUP. He’s a month away from performing a full minstrel show.”
Author and social commentator Dr. Boyce Watkins tweeted in 2019, “@terrycrews should realize that when you do things like this, it makes it hard for other #blackmen to sympathize when you claim to be a victim. Stop signing up for the menstrual (I mean minstrel) show. #WhiteSupremacy#WeMustDoBetter@tariqnasheed.” The tweet accompanied a photo of Crew in a woman’s robe and hair curlers.”
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