Ever since Donald Trump won the 2016 election, there's been a very prominent, very vocal movement of women in America (and, honestly, across the globe) who've had enough and are fighting for equality. From #MeToo to #TimesUp, their impact has been felt in many avenues, and during the ComplexCon 2017, a special edition of ComplexCon(versations) took place featuring a number of leading ladies in a number of industries.
Lead by comedian and TV host Chelsea Handler, the panel featured Beautycon founder Moj Mahdara, actor/producer/screenwriter Lena Waithe, hip-hop phenom Young M.A, actor Dascha Polanco, and models Indyamarie Jean and Iskra Lawrence. This group of powerful women discussed everything from the changes in society today to what it's like coming out as a gay woman.
Early on, while discussing Mahdara's upbringing and the struggles she went through regarding her family and her sexuality, Handler dropped some major facts about the world today: “I feel very hopeful, because with everything that’s going on, the world is getting browner and gayer, and nobody can do anything about it.”
Waithe, who became the first black woman to win an Emmy for her powerful coming-out tale "Thanksgiving" during season 2 of Netflix's Master of None, said that, initially, she didn't feel the need to share her story. She ultimately changed her mind, primarily because she realized it was "more layered than the gay thing. My mother was born in a segregated America, so there’s an element, particularly of a black mother wanting her black daughter to not make white people feel uncomfortable."
"That’s where I think the race thing comes into play," Waithe continued, "because the fear is not just ‘oh, how are going to be out in the world,’ but how are people going to react to you; you’re going to change the energy when you walk into a room, and that made her feel uncomfortable." In the end, she did admit that she is "really happy we got to make that episode, and people got a chance to watch it, because it really is a process."
Young M.A also touched on the issues she faces in the hip-hop industry as a lesbian, and how she will still be considered a "bitch" for even asking why, say, her green room requests aren't being met.
Towards the end, the #MeToo discussion hit, and Waithe kept it a buck. "Just because some of these tycoons have been taken down," she says, "doesn’t mean that sexism won’t exist in our industry. When Trump goes away, racism is still going to be a part of our society; it’s built into the DNA." Madhara agreed, explaining how "when you look at who controls the world, it’s really about a board room, it’s about a cap table, it’s about a structure that’s been designed for not us." Waithe let it be known that, because of this ongoing structure, it's "about how we raise our sons, how we raise our daughters, it has to start there."