Kelechi Okafor Says Black Women Deserve Equity Not Exposure: ‘I’m Not A Grateful Black Woman’

Kelechi Okafor spent a post-run cool down sounding off about the Recording Academy requesting free labor from Tiffany Haddish on Friday. The actor, director, fitness studio owner, public speaker podcaster and ESSENCE contributor posted a video on Instagram where she shared her thoughts on the matter. 

Haddish, who is a two time Grammy nominee, recently revealed that the Recording Academy not only asked her to host the pre-Grammys simulcast sans compensation they also refused to provide her with the resources to do so by stating that she would have to secure her own hair, makeup, wardrobe and styling. “All of that would have to come out of my pocket,” Haddish told Variety

Harvey Mason, Jr., interim chief of the institution, issued a public apology and stated that the offer was made by an independent talent booker they contracted, after Haddish shared the request with the public.

“It’s been on my mind this whole Tiffany Haddish situation,” began Okafor in the video. She went on to admit that she has been asked to work for free repeatedly throughout her career. “It just really hit me cause at first I though, wait, am I the only one that this happens too? But it seems like no matter where you end up in society as a Black woman, you’re always expected to be grateful to be there. Look fam I’m not a grateful Black woman. I’m grateful to the divine. I said, I’m grateful to God for the opportunities that come my way. I’m grateful to my ancestors that continue to like ride with me every step of the way, but me be grateful to an institution. No, you don’t should be grateful to me that you’ve got divinity sitting at your table,” she said. 

Okafor referenced the promises of “exposure,” often made to creative professionals to coerce them into providing goods or services with little to no compensation. “When you’re entering into these spaces that are antiquated in their values and so draconian in their mindset and you know, they feel like you should just be happy regardless of how much you’ve done for yourself. You should be happy because you’re getting exposure fam. That’s why I wear sunscreen. I’m not trying to get exposure,” she continued.

“And for you to have come across me fam that means I was already exposed. So you’re not going to pay me in exposure. Like the slavery is over.” 

Okafor encouraged Black women in professional spaces to recognize their value and call out those seeking to exploit their contributions. “So I think that anybody, any organization that wants you to be a part of what they’re doing, they need to know your worth. For too long, you know, Black women have just been like, you know, well, you know, at least I’ve got a seat at the table. I don’t want to see anybody else’s table. So they can tell me when to get the f**k up when they’re tired of me, I want my own banqueting hall,” she said.  

“I don’t want to be doing all of this nonsense that, that, you know, you should just be grateful that we invited you, you don’t need to be paid. Anyone that’s running that in 2021 needs to be named and shamed because you can’t keep expecting free labor from Black women. You’ve had it for 400 years money start paying the f***ing money!” 


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