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Gabrielle Union: ‘Don’t be the happy negro that does the bidding of the status quo’

Former “America’s Got Talent” judge Gabrielle Union indirectly referred to her recent dismissal from the NBC reality show while speaking at a panel focused on female empowerment and inclusivity. 

Union, who spoke at the launch of her holiday collection with New York & Company Monday, did not mention the show by name but instead talked about combating workplace inequalities, Variety reported. As part of her advice, Union urged audience members to be a leader in the workplace.

“Don’t be the happy negro that does the bidding of the status quo because you’re afraid,” she said, according to Variety. “Don’t allow them to call you angry when someone else is called passionate. It’s terrifying. There’s a solid chance you’ll lose your job … I speak from experience.”

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The former judge acknowledged the possibility of getting fired if one speaks up, but added that “if you’re not doing it, nobody is.”

“I knew I obsessed about every single time in my life where I didn’t say anything,” she said, according to Variety. “And it got to the point where I was like, ‘That’s not right!’ And every time I chose to speak up and the world didn’t end and I could speak a little bit better, I knew I was doing the right thing. It just made it so much easier.”

The event entitled “Power of Inclusivity and the Women Leading the Charge” was held at Ladurée in Manhattan. Union was joined by entrepreneur Hannah Bronfman, stylist Solange Franklin, model and activist Ebonee Davis and co-founder of Plus Model Mag Maddy Jones. 

Variety reported last month that Union was dismissed from the reality show after being told her hairstyles were “too black.” NBC News has launched a formal investigation into Union’s allegations of racist comments and a hostile work environment.

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