Show Finds Black Woman Who Feeds the Stereotypes
Mary Mitchell, Chic. Sun-Times, Apr. 13
If Omarosa hasn’t already earned the reputation of being a, well, a you know what, she certainly did last week. For those who missed last week’s next to grand finale (the two-hour finale airs live Thursday at 8 p.m. on NBC-5), only two apprentices are left:
Kwame Jackson, the self-assured black man with the Harvard MBA, made the cut, along with Bill Rancic, the Orland Park entrepreneur who founded a hugely profitable online cigar company. One of these men will land a $250,000-a-year position running a Trump enterprise.
The 15-episode “reality TV” program created real life tensions found in a competitive work environment. But for most of those episodes, “The Apprentice” also aired segments that brought into our home some of the most ugly stereotypes about black professional women.
Frankly, it’s hard to believe that producers just happened to pluck out a black woman who embodied all the negative character traits that Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth has displayed over the course of the show.
Viewers may forget the personalities of some of the other contestants (OK, no one will forget Sam), but most people are sure to remember Omarosa. Let’s start with her plunging neckline. And she was usually the only woman in the boardroom wearing a skirt that barely covered the essentials.
I’m no fashion diva. But I consulted with my 25-year-old daughter, and she also thought Omarosa’s outfits were too sensual for the workplace.
So the question is why?
At the end of last week’s show, I cared less about who got the job and more about why the producers brought Omarosa back on the show to trip up the black man who emerged as a real contender for the job.
Why was the black woman the most incompetent apprentice? Why was the black woman the liar? Why was the black woman the slacker? And why was the black woman the only person to come up short at the cash register?
In the early '70s, I went to see the stage production of “Jesus Christ, Superstar,” with a young man who had come to the United States from Cameroon to study medicine. After the performance, he asked me a question:
“Why was Judas cast as a black man?” he said. All the other cast members were white. But Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was black.
Maybe that’s just the way it turned out, I said lamely.
During the ride home, my friend talked about the powerful symbolism of the Judas character in ways I had never considered. Really, back then black people had been so brainwashed by these negative depictions that being called “black” was fighting words. We may have laughed at “Amos & Andy,” but no one wanted to be identified with the show’s characters.
Last week, “The Apprentice” used Omarosa to give us a modern-day version of the scheming “Sapphire.” Really, I find it hard to believe that the show’s producers went through 215,000 applications and the best black female in the bunch was, as Trump summed her up: “rude,” “full of excuses,” and “having a chip on her shoulder.”
In a decision that will probably cost him the job, Kwame picked Omarosa as one of the employees who would work for him on the final task — coordinating a Jessica Simpson concert. Omarosa was in charge of logistics. But she refused to interrupt her dinner to respond to the entertainment coordinator’s concerns. She also refused to disclose to Kwame and another co-worker that the coordinator called. When confronted, Omarosa lied and said she did not talk to the coordinator. At the end of the show, Simpson was missing and Omarosa was grinning.
Of course, this is all theater. Omarosa was probably brought back specifically to frustrate Kwame’s efforts. And, after all, we’ve come a long way since “Amos & Andy.” Most viewers realize that Omarosa was out to make a name for Omarosa — not to represent the entire black female professional class.
That sentiment expresses a burden from a past. Unfortunately, just because so many in the younger generation haven’t picked up that burden doesn’t mean it has disappeared.
As I watched Omarosa publicly betray a black man, my friend’s question came to mind.
Steve Rogers, RealityTVWorld, Mar. 12
The ongoing media tussle between former The Apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth and her fellow former contestants rocketed up several notches in the past two days as Omarosa alleged to have been the victim of an on-camera racial slur by an “unnamed contestant” which she alluded to be Ereka Vetrini — an allegation that NBC, the show’s producer, Ereka, and even Donald Trump himself all quickly refuted.
Omarosa’s allegation — which would appear to be completely false and quite slanderous given the near immediate comments of denial from numerous other key Apprentice parties — came during a Wednesday appearance on ABC’s syndicated The View daytime series.
When being asked by View co-host Star Jones about why Omarosa had accused Ereka of using “racist terms” when Ereka commented that “the pot [was] calling the kettle black” in an early episode of the series, The New York Post reported that Omarosa replied “I was responding to a much, much worse term than that, that I won’t even say because it’s so repulsive.”
After Jones followed up the cryptic insinuation with “Did someone call you an ugly name?” Omarosa responded with “It was the ‘N’ word and it was unfortunate, because I’d never been called that in my life so it was just one of my worst experiences on that show,” setting off a firestorm of activity that included an immediate terse statement of denial from NBC, fellow View co-host (and former Survivor: Australia contestant) Elisabeth Hasselbeck placing a call to Apprentice and Survivor executive producer Mark Burnett, an appearance by Ereka on Thursday’s View program, denials from other fellow contestants, and a near-outright accusation that Omarosa was lying from Donald Trump himself.
“NBC is unaware of any such incident,” said NBC in an statement released on Wednesday in response to Omarosa, who since her ouster from the hit NBC series during last week’s episode has spent the last week doing numerous media interviews in an attempt to rehabilitate a reputation for exaggeration, controversy, laziness, and having an extremely confrontational demeanor that was presented to the public during her appearance on the program.
On Thursday, the denials that such a comment was never made grew even stronger as other parties commented on the issue. During her hastily-arranged appearance on The View, a visibly upset Ereka opened her interview by stating “I’m here to tell you that Omarosa is lying and I can prove that she’s lying” the Post reported today.
“That word doesn’t exist in my vocabulary,” Ereka told The View co-hosts. “You have to walk through this logic. It’s reality TV, and we’re on camera and audio 24/7… If me or any other contestant said something that vulgar or disgusting… it would be on TV. It’s damn good TV.” “And you all know Omarosa is outspoken. She would’ve gone to town on me, are you kidding? And why did she wait eight weeks to talk about it? I’m absolutely sick to my stomach about the whole thing.”
Co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck also added that, after Omarosa made her allegation, she called Burnett to discuss the issue and that “he was horrified at the very suggestion… and told me he could not confirm that anywhere on the footage, on any tape, is Ereka using the ‘N’ word.”
When contacted by The Post for additional comment yesterday, an egotistical Omarosa appeared to become increasingly agitated and nonsensical and continued to strike out at Ereka, who she clearly blames for much of her much of her negative characterization on the show.
“I never mentioned on The View what contestant I was referring to, so if it wasn’t, why was she offered to go on that show and talk about something where her name was never mentioned?” she told the paper.
“I’m just going to move on,” Omarosa said. Turning more insulting, she added “Ereka has no press, and I see this as a way she’s trying to get back out in the press and exploit it. Ereka doesn’t have a job or any job prospects on the horizon — she lives in her mother’s basement, for crying out loud.” “She’s at home clipping articles about me. Her obsession with me is going to continue, and I don’t want to feed into it.”
Also on Thursday, Donald Trump voiced in with some comments to the New York Daily News, stopping just short of calling the claim a lie, but clearly doubting the truthfulness of Omarosa’s allegation. “It’s just something that wasn’t caught on camera, and that’s with up to 28 cameras going at one time, all the time,” Trump told the paper. “With witnesses, nobody else has heard it,” he added. “I think that if it happened, I’d be very disappointed that she didn’t bring it to our attention. We’re all trying to figure out why this wasn’t brought to someone’s attention a long time ago.”
In an interview with the syndicated Inside Edition entertainment news magazine, The Donald was even more blunt. “Based on the footage it never happened. The footage is very conclusive” he said, as he once again questioned the timing of the accusation. “If it happened to you, you wouldn’t wait until the last moment. You would bring it up right away.”
During an appearance on Friday morning’s The View, newly ousted contestant Heidi Bressler also voiced her objection to Omarosa’s claim, stating that Omarosa, who during the past week has pounded the media circuit with talk of plans for her own clothing line, talk show, and ways to extend her “brand,” fabricated the incident and theorized that she simply made the comment hoping to gain additional publicity.
Donald Trump Not First To Fire Omarosa
People, Apr. 9
NEW YORK — Donald Trump isn’t the first one to fire Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth.
People magazine says she was let go from four jobs in two years with the Clinton administration.
A worker at her last job with the Commerce Department said Manigault-Stallworth was asked to leave as quickly as possible because she was so disruptive. She says “One woman wanted to slug her.”
To smooth some disruptions, Manigault-Stallworth and Ereka Vetrini were reunited on “Oprah” Thursday. The women have been on the outs ever since they feuded on “The Apprentice” and Manigault-Stallworth accused Vetrini of calling her by a racial slur. Both Vetrini and series creator Mark Burnett denied that ever happened.
Vetrini told Oprah Winfrey that Manigault-Stallworth has been called “a liar” by everyone from Trump to Burnett. Manigault-Stallworth accused Vetrini of trying to ride on her coattails for publicity.
Vetrini said she’s exploring a slander action against Manigault-Stallworth. That’s according to the New York Daily News. The two have been feuding since Omarosa accused Vetrini of calling her the “N word,” something, Vetrini adamantly denies.
According to Vetrini, Omarosa is “making it up because she wants to write a book on the subject.”
Meanwhile, being fired by Trump doesn’t mean you get to go home. TV Guide reports that those yellow cabs that picked up the losers each week on “The Apprentice” took them to a nearby hotel where they had to live until the series was through filming.
That way no one could tell who got fired before their episode show aired.