In Defense of Aisha Tyler

Onyx Contributor:  H.T. (@517NightHawk), Podcast:  Lansing Anti-Hero

Let me start by saying that as of writing this, I do not have all the details of why Aisha Tyler is divorcing her husband.  Literally the second this gets posted, we could find out he or even she cheated or that there was abuse involved in some way.  I am well aware that they had issues conceiving children, but so do many couples.  So I write this from the perspective of a long time fan of Tyler.

That being said, as news of the settlement from her divorce from her husband hit Twitter, people were partying pretty damn hard that Tyler had to pay alimony to her ex and give up a car.  Honestly, I don’t see what the big deal is.  It’s very likely he helped her in her success in some way and frankly the amount she has to pay compared to a lot of other divorces I’ve seen is pretty light.  Also, addressing the elephant in the room:  look, I’m not happy to see anyone get divorced if I don’t know enough about their relationship to understand why it was needed.  Nor am I partying that a black woman who married a white guy got divorced.

Part of the reason the black community has had a weird relationship with Tyler is because we all came to learn about her back in 2003 when she was a recurring character on Friends after years of complaints that the show was wildly homogenous despite taking place in a very diverse city.  The fact that Aisha in taking the roll became at the time the face of tokenism in media is something she’s never lived down to this day despite the fact she’s gone on to have a very successful career in entertainment.

The reason I myself feel so defensive of her is that I bought her book Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation and used to listen to her podcast, Girl On Guy.  So while I don’t know EVERYTHING about her, I’ve been given enough knowledge of her to form a pretty informed opinion on her as a person.  That being said, Aisha despite it being the opinion that she’s made a career off being the “I’m the whitest black person you know”, once you learn more you realize she’s really just a uber-nerdy child of hippies who grew up in San Francisco.

Fact is, as someone who’s followed her career since I was a kid, the simple truth is that Aisha has never been fake about who or what she is.  The fact is that Tyler only catches shit because the Shea Butter segment of the black community feels that she’s a little too friendly with white America to not fall under cooning territory and the rest of you are mad she married a white guy.  For me, I defend black people being who they are as long as it brings progress and harms no one.  And that’s what she’s done.  If by some odd chance she reads this, I would tell her thank you for the years of entertainment you brought me and for being a relatable figure for many black people.  Despite any and all hardships you face, there’s always going to be the weird, black and nerdy that will see you as a bastion of hope.

Also, sue whoever made your character in Watch Dogs.  That shit was liable and slander.

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