Last week a topic started trending that has caused us all to have a conversation on work ethic, pride, dignity, and shaming. It began with a picture of Geoffrey Owens, who played Elton Tibideaux on The Cosby Show for 5 seasons, working as a cashier at Trader Joe’s went viral on social media. The photo sparked controversy once it was shared by Fox News, who used it as another shot against Bill Cosby {while they ignore caucasian sexual deviants in the entertainment}, for employment shaming a decent black man in between acting jobs..

Everyone rallied to the defense of G. Owens {sometimes Black Twitter gets it right}, and the discussion led to many great revelations about the man’s character that can’t be expressed in a single picture. It also prompted an amazing discussion on responsibility, work ethic, and masculinity. But for me it’s what hasn’t been said that holds the real moral of this story. The first point being that Fox News, nor any of their racist minions snapped the pic. It was a black woman. I only point this out because at first it was positioned to the audience that Fox News was being racist {And they are}, but WHO gave them the ammunition?

Karma Lawrence, 50, was grocery shopping with her wife, security manager Yanelle, 40, when she saw Owens at around 7.30pm on Saturday and snapped some photos.

The medical secretary, from Clifton, said: ‘I was just in Trader Joe’s and I said to my wife, I said, “Wait a minute, that’s the guy from The Cosby Show.”

‘She looked at him and said, “It looks like him. He’s a little heavier.”

‘I pulled up a site on the internet to look at a picture of him and said, “That is him.”

‘I have never seen him at Trader Joe’s before. I was getting a bunch of groceries and he wasn’t really looking at anybody, but he said, “Have a nice day.”

Lawrence added: ‘I used to watch The Cosby Show all the time; it was my favorite show. It was definitely him.

‘I would have thought after The Cosby Show he would maybe be doing something different.

‘It was a shock to see him working there and looking the way he did.

‘It made me feel really bad. I was like, “Wow, all those years of doing the show and you ended up as a cashier.”

The post then went viral as we all know and since then Owens has recieved all the black love and support he deserves. He has also quit Trader Joe’s because of the unwanted attention and accepted Tyler Perry’s offer to come and work for him. The actor has handled the entire ordeal like a scholar and gentleman, but people do have feelings.

The 57-year-old also revealed that he had been working at the store in New Jersey for 15 months ‘out of necessity’ between short-term acting gigs and teaching, but that he has now quit because of the unwanted attention he has received.

‘When I first saw the pictures… I was really devastated,’ Owens said, explaining that he has not had an on-screen job which lasted more than 10 weeks in the 26 years since The Cosby Show wrapped.

‘I got to a point where I’d been teaching acting and directing for 30 plus years but it just didn’t add up enough. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I wanted a job that I could I have some flexibility and try to stay in the acting business.

‘I didn’t advertise it, not because I was ashamed of it, but because I didn’t want the acting community to think that I wasn’t pursuing acting anymore,’ he said.

Since recieving backlash for the ordeal Lawrence has completely changed her energy and now feels guilty for the embarrassment she has caused Owens {Which she should}

Lawrence says she regrets causing Owens pain, and that she is also suffering from an angry backlash after sharing the pictures.

She has even shut down her social media accounts, saying she cried for 30 minutes after reading some of the vitriolic responses to her photos.

‘So much hate. So much nastiness. Oh, it’s been terrible,’ Lawrence said.

She insists that she remains a fan of Owens, and Trader Joe’s, where she regularly shops and that her photos had not been ‘malicious.’

‘I’m not the monster they’re making me out to be.’

And if she had one message for the star, it was her apology.

‘I am extremely, extremely apologetic about what has happened,’ she said. ‘And if I could take it back, I would.’

Well you can’t

The 50-year-old told she did it ‘on impulse’ adding: ‘I figured everybody does it. I don’t know what possessed me. I just did it. I didn’t even think about it.’

Lawrence said she actually wanted to approach Owens in the store and tell him she was a fan but had worried it might embarrass him.

I just wanna add these thoughts…..

I’ve seen so many beatitudes expressed about the importance of ethical work and integrity, and I’ll admit that some of them have taken me aback. Especially since last week Lil Duval was shaming the parentless singles for not being more successful or struggling without children. There seems to be this running theme of oppressed black people shaming other black people for what type of work they do AND a lot of pocket counting. It’s very weird to see us collectively switch from complaining about inequality in the workplace, pay disparity, and wealthy disparity THEN shame blacks who aren’t fake balling like reality shows.

Truth is Ms. Lawrence took that photo to shame Owens. No matter what her excuse is now that it backfired in her face. There could be no other intent to take a picture of someone off guard at their job like that. And another truth is that black people are VERY cruel to each other when it comes to achievement and wealth. We shame, judge, and ridicule each other for doing the best we can in this cruel and unjust world.

We’ll also glorify blacks who rob, kill, and exploit other black if they have a lot of money. In fact, we encourage other blacks to “get the bag” and “money over everything” and if someone isn’t flashy and making a lot of money then blacks {not whites} will be the first one to point it out.

Ms. Lawrence thought it would be a funny joke “Oh look at this guy who used to be an actor working at Trader Joe’s. He’s no better than me.” When it blew up in her face now she’s all “I’m a huge fan and I was too nervous to ask for a picture.”

And to make matters worse not only is Ms. Lawrence a black woman who should understand how hard it is for black men in the workforce, but we’re also talking about two lesbians who should DEFINITELY know what it’s like to be publicly shamed for living their life.

But social media makes everyone feel like someone else’s life is fair game. And here we are. When Black Lives was trending we pretended that white people were solely responsible for our negative portrayals in the media, but thanks to social media you get to see us at our most vulnerable because another black person will always be there to film and share it. Then to appease their guilt they’ll post “black excellence” captioned with “These are the images they won’t show.”

Now the irony in all of this is because they are black WOMEN their little half assed apology will be forgiven and we’ll dismiss the incident. Nevermind that these are two mature women who I’m sure know how bullying works and how mean society can be. We’re supposed to pretend their intentions were honorable and the negativity was completely unexpected.

Luckily they shamed a man whose not ashamed and is using this as an opportunity to reach young black men and let them know there is NO SHAME in making an HONEST living. Especially when that black man is a Yale graduated and actually IS working. The lessons Mr. Owens just taught is with this one are ones that many don’t learn because they don’t have STRONG MEN in their lives that teach them the hard work and humility it sometimes takes to survive in this world.




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Vitamin Q (VQ) is a writer, blogger personality, and a social commentator. He irreverently analyzes how social issues affect individuals in modern society by using sarcasm, humor, and intellect, creating his own unique blend of Southern SHADE, purely for the purpose of helping like minds cope. “I say it so you don’t have to!”
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