Gabourey Sidibe blocks people on Twitter every day for calling her the n-word

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We haven’t talked much about Gabourey Sidibe since her Oscar nomination in 2010 for Precious. The lack of discussion isn’t because Sidibe has been undercover at all though – I’ve tracked her progress with interest, and I’m pleased that she’s found such consistent work since Precious, in film and television. She was part of ensemble casts on The Big C and American Horror Story, and she’s currently doing work on Empire and Difficult People, plus she’s still scoring supporting roles in films. Sidibe also has a presence online, mostly on Twitter. She mostly tweets about work, but she also shares her love of Beyonce, her love of Hamilton, and her political activism with Black Lives Matter and BLM-adjacent organizations. Sidibe chatted with People Magazine at the premiere of the second season of Difficult People, and she ended up talking about the recent police shootings and the racism she experiences every day online.

As incidents across the nation shed light on the complexities of race in America today, Oscar-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe is sharing her own experience with racism.

“As a black actress, I have a few social media accounts and every single day I deal with racist comments,” Sidibe told PEOPLE at Monday night’s New York City premiere of the second season of Hulu’s Difficult People. “Not a day goes by that I don’t have to block someone from calling me a fat n—r. So I have to say, I’m not surprised by some of those bad reactions [to what happened last week].”

Sidibe, 33, reveals she received backlash when she responded to the police shootings of two black males in one week.

“I tweeted something about it and I just said, ‘Who’s going to be next?’ And I said, ‘I’m scared.’ And the amount of hate I got … I mean, I once tweeted that I was watching Roots, and I can’t tell you how many people I had to block. There is a long, long way to go and it breaks my heart. I’m scared. I’m not just scared for myself, I’m scared for my family, I’m scared for everyone. What I realized, the only difference between the world that I live in and the world my mom grew up in – my mother was born in 1952 – is that we have cell phones. We have cell phones and we have documented proof that there’s no real difference.”

Yet the Empire actress remains hopeful: “I have to say, I am just so proud to know all of these people that are standing up – not just black people, but white people, anyone who has a heart really. I don’t base any of my friendships or my loves on color, I base it on people and I am so glad for the insane amount of people that show support.”

[From People]

When Twitter first became a thing, it seemed like a fun exercise, an egalitarian free-for-all. Then sh-t got dark and now people (mainly women with any kind of profile) can barely tweet anything vaguely political without getting slammed from all sides. In the wake of Trayvon, in the wake of Ferguson, and now in the wake of Minnesota and Baton Rouge, it does feel like it’s not only dangerous to be black in America, it’s dangerous to be black online too. I don’t doubt that Sidibe gets all kinds of racist sh-t on Twitter on a daily basis. I only get 0.00001% of the bulls–t online and it never fails to disgust me, and Twitter does need to do a better job of shutting down the racists. I’ve seen the worst kind of racists crop up all over the place on Twitter lately, and it feels like it’s getting worse (I blame Trump).

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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54 Responses to “Gabourey Sidibe blocks people on Twitter every day for calling her the n-word”

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  1. K says:

    What is wrong with people? Why would you do that? I mean I can’t understand having that hate to start with as it’s just unimaginable to me. But wbat is the point in actively trying to hurt, degrade or scare someone. Just stop it! So sick.

    • Erinn says:

      It scares me, honestly. I can’t imagine a situation where I’d feel the need to expend so much useless hate on a complete stranger – especially one who has literally done nothing to ‘earn’ that kind of anger. I let news articles/comments sections make me angry. But I’ll rant about it to my husband and move on. I don’t go and start commenting hateful messages, I close the browser.

      The scariest part, to me at least, is how many people that we consider normal – coworkers, nurses, teachers, dentists – actually ARE making these kinds of comments. I have a coworker who is incredibly opinionated, so we know not to engage on certain topics because he’s also an idiot. But until recently I thought he was a relatively normal guy – then I noticed the kind of crap he was posting in comments on stuff ( misguided and loud more than hateful for the most part – he genuinely doesn’t even seem to realize how off base he is or why people get mad ) and it baffles me. And that’s stuff using his real name. Think about how many professional people are mouthing off on social media under screen names – people who you’d otherwise consider perfectly sane.

      • NewWester says:

        I found out one of my own co workers made a rather nasty post on Twitter It just shocked me how this person could say something so vile. You just never know who is posting online. Scary world out there

      • Kitten says:

        Me neither Erinn.

        I’m so happy I’m not on Twitter and rarely on social media. I’m too sensitive for that sh*t.

    • Annetommy says:

      Yes, it’s utterly disgraceful. I admire Gabourey for the career she has made for herself in the face of prejudice about her race and her size. She has a lot to be proud of.

    • AnnieRUOk says:

      I know that racism is due to fear/ignorance, and is socially learned. I think it would be fascinating to study how the internet has shaped the social factor of racism.
      I know online communities have supported minority groups (gay, black, Latino, etc.), but would it be fair to assume that it has also supported racist communities?
      I find the hatred to be disgusting morally, and i don’t know… I have no solution that doesn’t involve moralizing the issue.

      • Kitten says:

        Yeah there are definitely online forums devoted to spreading racism, homophobia, misogyny and any kind of hate that you could imagine.

        Scary stuff…

  2. Neelyo says:

    Ahh the internet, the last bastion of acceptable bigotry. Who needs to wear a white sheet when you can stay anonymous online and say whatever disgusting thing comes into your mind.

    I don’t do twitter or anything like that because I got called it enough growing up, don’t need it online.

    • AnnieRUOk says:

      I have flirted with the idea of Twitter but… I can’t separate the app from the company who refuses to set any kind of boundaries on human conduct online.
      I have an FB but I found myself irritated when I used to frequent it. My friends, my family, everyone was so annoying. I got sick of reading the miseducated, misguided, mundane, attention seeking things people had to say. I felt bad for judging them, so I stopped reading it all together. Then I animorphed into a misanthropic turtle, and everyone judged me for not participating. I can’t win!

      • Lady D says:

        My sister reminds me once a month that I am the only family member not on FB. Your second paragraph is why.

      • Kitten says:

        I use FB SOLELY to post pictures of my cats and share animal-related stuff in the hopes that it will make people smile, although I’m sure plenty roll their eyes at my cat pics. Oh well. I refuse to use it to share personal things, be it politics or relationships or work-related issues.

        Lately I’ve been avoiding it entirely due to the current incendiary political climate.
        It’s not always a good thing to know more about someone.
        Ignorance can be bliss sometimes, you know?

      • Veronica says:

        I got a FB about two years ago because the rest of my family had one, and it gave me a place to connect with some of my social groups. It also, unfortunately, came to reveal a lot of ugly things about the ignorance and prejudice of a lot my friends and family members. I feel like I can’t delete it because I have so many pictures and whatnot posted from social events, so I’ve made my peace with it by simply visiting it only once a week and commenting even less.

  3. erni says:

    yeap, trump

  4. Megan says:

    ITA, Twitter has gotten so ugly. I’m glad Gabourey is speaking out because it is well past time for Twiiter to deal with the situation.

    • Pinky says:

      I feel like she shouldn’t block these trolls, but rather retweet them so her followers can see their behavior and report them. If she is reporting people every day to Twitter, and they continue to ignore her pleas, then they will have a larger issue on their hands than they bargained for.

      –TheRealPinky

      • lucy2 says:

        I’ve heard a few celebrities say they do that, and in most cases I think it’s a great way to hold a mirror up and say “this is your problem, not mine”.
        But when someone is spewing racism, bigotry, or threatening violence, I think twitter should simply close their account. It’s their site, they should be able to set and enforce rules like that.

  5. Naya says:

    I’ll never forget Howard Sterns dbag rant against her and how he went on and on and on and on about how she would never have a career. Somebody ring him up and ask him where his favorite blonde big-tit-but-skinny-everywhere-else newcomer from 2010 is now please.

    • Maria says:

      he is such a hateful man and im sick of people saying “but the interviews are good”

    • lucy2 says:

      I was trying to remember who publicly said that about her…I’m so glad he was proven very, very wrong. A-hole.
      She also had a role on that Laura Linney show for a while, and has worked pretty steadily since her big break.

    • Dolkite says:

      Stern said she was the size of a planet and that Oprah was wrong to tell her she was at the start of a long career. Then he suggested that now that she had some money, she should pay someone to help her get thin.

      What I wonder is why they keep using her picture in clickbait ads for “You Won’t Believe What These Stars Look Like Now!” She’s just as huge now as she was then.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        YES! I have been wondering that too and realized that’s just the disgusting nature of click bait, doesn’t even have to be shocking and true just scandalous enough to get someone to click before you realize how much you were lied to.

  6. Birdix says:

    Horrible and depressing. Is this a parallel to cellphone video/Facebook/YouTube, where the horrible reality is finally shown, or is it the ugliest side of America getting a megaphone?

    • Betsy says:

      I don’t see how those are mutually exclusive. People – everyone – categorizes and stereotypes to some extent. It was a useful evolutionary tool, and most people are smart enough to let experiences override stereotypes.

      And then there are knuckle dragging morons who really ain’t bright and who believe the worst of whatever they’ve been told. Sadly, they’ve been given a voice outsize relative to their number and a cloak of anonymity to allow total impunity. Frankly I wish Twitter would just publicly out people who use racism and sexism as weapons to silence people.

  7. Marty says:

    It doesn’t help that people can make usernames with the n-word in it. Twitter seriously needs to do a better job monitoring that stuff.

  8. Micki says:

    I am truly happy that she’s getting constantly work. There was talk about how she’ll disappear being black and obese. But she managed to defy this narrative, so kudos!
    As for her message- she’s right. I’d be afraid too. Being a law-abiding citizen is no guarantee I won’t be shot just because. I don’t know what is to hate about this. It’s a statement of the actual facts.

  9. Taiss says:

    Social media is just so horrible it’s sad. There is a police who threatened a 5year old girl telling her mother:” we’ll see how much her life matters soon…better be careful leaving your info open where she can be found :) hold her close tonight, it’ll be the last time.” He got fired btw. Yet some people blamed the mother for supporting #blm.
    I just can’t imagine how can someone write something so hateful and scary and go on with their day as if it’s nothing. The blatant racism, the insults, the threats, victim blaming are making me sick.

    • lucy2 says:

      Glad that cop was fired, but he should have also been arrested for making threats against a child.

    • Lady D says:

      “hold her close tonight, it’ll be the last time.” I could not, for the life of me, picture a cop telling me that. I wouldn’t know what to do, I’d be horrified that a cop said that to me. A mother trapped with nowhere to turn. That s.o.b. cop should be horse whipped, then jailed.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      It really is amazing, even without anonymity there’s got to be some kind of mental disconnect for some people where they don’t realize that things said in cyberspace still have consequences.

      Even if you don’t get in trouble you CAN emotionally devastate someone as badly as if you spit in their face in person.

  10. Betti says:

    I love her, she has a great attitude and is a role model for real women. She has talent and I hope to see her win more awards I the future. She should come to England and tread the boards, Rebel Wilson is currently starring in Guys n Dolls in the Westend and sadly I haven’t been able to get tickets.

  11. FingerBinger says:

    I hate to defend Donald Trump but this was happening before him. It will continue after him. The racist tweeting about president Obama and Marc Anthony singing the national anthem. Trump is responsible for alot but not this.

    • iGotNothin says:

      True. However, Trump is also adding fuel to the fire. He brings to the table something that a lot of these people making the comments online don’t have… power. He’s making it acceptable to do more than hide behind a screen name to say terrible things. And everyone is starting to follow suit. They’re not just tweeting from anonymous accounts anymore. They are posting from Facebook accounts where pictures of their families, homes, and jobs are posted with no intention to hide it because they know that everyone who follows them probably feels the same way, and there is no fear of retribution. If the man running for President can say it so can I.

    • Josefina says:

      I completely agree. People think Trump enabled bigotry on social media. Not at all. Bigotry on social media enabled Trump to get as far as he has.

  12. lisa says:

    good for her! i dont care for her acting but i love her in interviews and i love that she is succeeding. if blake lively can be a bad actress and get jobs, why not gab?

  13. Susie 1of 3 says:

    @iGotNothin & lucy2, Trump has opened the basement door and let these hateful people think they are mainstream and welcomed them to his campaign. There are so many that are now openly spewing what they had been saying behind closed doors. It is scarey to know there are so many more of them than we ever imagined. Thanks to social media, now we know who they are.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      I think before Donald these groups were just angry and isolated and now every single person who thinks their simplistic build a wall and bomb our enemies way of thinking was actually brilliant all along now has metaphorical megaphone and is refusing to shut up because “I’m just telling the truth!” and “You guys don’t realize how many of us there are and we’re gonna elect Donald Trump and show you, you were wrong to call us ignorant/stupid/racist before!”

      • Pepper says:

        The Tea Party brought those people out years ago, Trump is just whipping them up into another frenzy now.

  14. me says:

    People’s true colours come out on the internet.

  15. Kelly says:

    Honestly, (and sadly) the fact that she’s 33 surprises me more than the fact the people tweet that at her. It’s terrible the direction we’re going.

  16. nitesh says:

    yup!! I would rather love blocking people from Twitter then block them for my id. atleast they would have to make new id, well what do I know I am not in Twitter.
    plus it’s not for women specific, you can’t talk about anything in Internet without getting bitchery comments about you, not everything have to be gender oriented or racial or cause. it’s specific to anonymity it gives it just make devil in us to come out and talk without consequences.

  17. Elle says:

    The saddest part is that I would not be surprised if a significant portion of the people calling her that are black.

  18. Nefer says:

    I don’t understand people who do that but I don’t understand the ones that call me a kike either.Block,block,block.If you don’t like her leave her the f alone.No wonder I enjoy doing animal rescue as opposed to interacting with most people.

  19. JRenee says:

    People can be so ignorant and cruel.

  20. Lama Bean says:

    Last week I saw someone refer to Leslie Jones as Harambe. I almost commented but dealing with fools on twitter is like dealing with Zombies. There are too many of them to make a difference.

  21. caitlinK says:

    There are actually entire websites devoted to honing and expressing hatred of specific marginalized groups: it is sick, and sickening. But at least no one has to go to them, they can be avoided. I know nearly nothing about Twitter, but this young woman being unable to post things w/out evil, subhuman racists inevitably attacking her in her own personalized space is just outrageous, and appalling. The Internet, or rather, the people who gather around it to verbally assault and demean others, frighten me. I know these voices have always been “out there”, but the Internet brings them far too close to one’s own safety and consciousness, within just seconds. It takes that little time to, w a few vile words, threaten to devastate a whole human being–and get away w it completely.

  22. LouLou says:

    I really appreciate Twitter for what it’s enabled people to share among themselves and determine for themselves what the news is. However, I follow a lot of Black progressives and activists and have seen how much hate they deal with and block constantly. Lots of people with fake profile pics or just the egg icon and lots of terrible slurs. I really admire their tenacity. They have to be some of the strongest people ever, but it’s unfair that they have to be.

    White folks who express empathy or allegiance are also often trolled. Twice I had to remove myself when two different people added me to lists of people that they follow specifically to troll and then share that list with others so they can troll too. The one list was called something like “Whites Who Hate Their Own Race” or some nonsense. If white people want to learn more about what life is like (online and off) for POC (and particularly Black POC), you can learn so much from following Black media. My favorites are black podcasts like The Black Guy Who Tips, TWIB (This Week in Blackness), The Read, and The Interracial Jawn (Black wife with her white husband). The bonus is that all these shows are also pretty funny.

  23. Karla says:

    I’m not on Twitter. I got an account and promptly ghosted in. I don’t want a character limit on expressing myself. But EVERYONE gets trolled on Twitter. Look on anyone’s feed and see the abuse they get. IMO people should just get off of Twitter, unless you only allow close friends to follow you.

    I don’t understand, even for celebrities, why they open themselves to this sort of world. It’s not that it’s acceptable, but it happens. It’s full of trolls, idiots and rude people who want to start a war. Better to sign off and never look back.

  24. Gatita says:

    This whole situation is so depressing that the only thing I can bring myself to say is I love the way she dresses. She has great style. Also, her friendship with Jussie Smollet is adorable.