In Defense of Mr. Nancy
Let’s talk about it.
It’s December 2019 and we learn that Orlando Jones, Anansi “Mr. Nancy” on American Gods has been fired. To his credit, Orlando Jones himself had known since September, but he remained silent. It makes sense, he was still doing a bit of press, things were still in the air. He was even still looking for answers. Those questions would continue to linger, well after he made the shocking announcement to all.
As Mr. Nancy, Orlando Jones’ speeches were enthralling, galvanizing and perfectly topical. We are living in a time where much of the world is going backward. Race relations have regressed and shown a face as sinister as it’s ever been. The future of a societal melting-pot seems bleak. From the “Make America Great Again” slogans, to the child internment camps on the border and the plight of immigrants worldwide, the cries of “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” seem to fall on deaf ears. That frustration at deaf ears, that repressed rage, it all oozed out in Mr. Nancy’s speech about anger getting shit done. Captivating doesn’t begin to describe it. In season 2, Orlando Jones became a writer and producer of American Gods. After originally campaigning on Twitter to Neil Gaiman for the role, Jones won Gaiman’s approval not only to play Mr. Nancy but to write for him and others as well. Why then would a show already plagued with behind the scenes drama, unceremoniously fire one of its best assets?
Because in 2019, white men still know what’s best for Black America.
The utter bullshit of that idea burns me to my core. This isn’t 1819, or even 1919. This is 2019! Now I don’t believe there was EVER a time when white men knew what was best for Black America. Slavery was the means by which they set Black America back and attempted to do it irreparably so. But I digress. In 2019 Freemantle (the show’s production company) and showrunner Charles Eglee fired Orlando Jones.
I want you to take a look at Charles Eglee before I continue:
Look at his attire. Red, black and green. Los Angeles hat tilted to the side. Black Panther Party shirt. Stay Woke hat. There’s a phrase I’m looking for to describe him. It begins with “culture” and ends with “vulture”. Jones stated that one of the major reasons he was fired was because Mr. Nancy wasn’t sending the right message to Black America. Excuse me?? This all sounds of how we were taught about the Civil Rights Movement in school. It was always Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks and non-violence. While that WAS a major part of both the movement and sentiment, Malcolm X and others had a VERY convincing counterpoint. But someone, somewhere said, that’s not the “right message,” so you don’t hear about that until you study on your own. Somewhere, a white man or men sit in judgment of what is best for Black America. Last time they were given carte blanche to do that, we were taken in slave ships.
But the insult and the pure gall of this man doesn’t stop there. He further states that he “writes from a black male perspective,” as if we need him to. How does he know what a “black male perspective” is? He can have empathy for the plight of Black Americans and for black men, but he can’t write from our perspective. He certainly can’t write from a “black male perspective” better than an actual black male. A black male that was given the green light to interpret the character from this iteration’s prolific writer, Neil Gaiman himself.
This is the Electoral College, this is the 3/5s of a man to guide the vote, this is Jim Crow evolved and molded for a new day. For a white male to boldly say what is best for Black America, as he “writes from a black male perspective,” is a slap in the face to every ancestor that died for the struggle we are STILL in. His vampiric feasting on our culture to further his own colonizer ends spits in the face of every stride we’ve made. To quote M’Baku, “We will not have it!”
I’m a Neil Gaiman fan. I always will be. I’ve watched Orlando Jones since MAD Tv. I’ll continue to support him in whatever his new endeavor is. But the names Freemantle and Charles Elgee are forbidden in my household. As they should be forbidden (in my opinion) in Black America. They have shown us what they think about us and we need to respond in kind. Not by burning down our own streets, not by letting impotent rage consume us. But by letting our anger make shit happen. They understand one thing, a monetary bottom line. And until we flex the 9th largest buying economy in the world like we should, they will continue to think they can tell us what the right message for Black America is. I for one will never let a colonizer decide that for me again.
Orlando Jones, good luck on your next venture. We hope to see you soon.
Brian Joseph Lambert is the lead contributing writer and editor at Wingless Entertainment LTD. He specializes in bringing diversity to action/adventure, fantasy and sci-fi worlds. In 2017, while earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Full Sail University, he published his first novel, ASCENSION- THE CHRUSION SAGA BOOK 1. In 2019 he earned a Master’s degree in Entertainment Business and released JUSTICE- ISSUE #0 for Wingless Entertainment LTD and Konkret Comics. Brian's current projects include WAR FOR THE SWORD- THE CHRUSION SAGA BOOK 2, a CG animated feature film entitled, RUBICON and JUSTICE- THE FALL, an ongoing graphic novel with KONKRET COMICS. Brian recently was selected as a Reader's Favorite Book Award Finalist in 2019 for, ASCENSION- THE CHRUSION SAGA BOOK 1. Brian has edited numerous independent works including, Is’Nana the Were-Spider by Greg Anderson Elysée, Akolyte by Derek Allen, Nia Caler by Dorphise Jean and the upcoming Beyond 13th by Michael Ralph. When not writing or editing, Brian works on creating a functioning lightsaber so that he can pass the Jedi trials.