Fuse is once again celebrating an extended Black History Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future Black History before our eyes. To close out the 32-day celebration, we honor someone who is creating her own legacy well into her '40s and doing so the way she has been for years: by being Leslie Jones.
Despite decades as a stand-up comedian that earned her praise from Chris and Rock Michael Che, Leslie Jones only recently shot to mainstream consciousness as a late-2014 addition to the featured Saturday Night Live players—but with an undeniable impact. While many have known for years how funny Jones is, the world is only waking up to her comedic styling and it's led to opportunities in movies like Top Five, Trainwreck, Sing and most notably Ghostbusters. Yet throughout promotions for the remake of the beloved '80s film that we saw the increasingly necessary importance of her voice.
After the release of Ghostbusters, our girl was the target of numerous cyberbullying incidents and Twitter accounts making racially charged attacks. A month later, her personal website was hacked with her driver's license and passport information publicly displayed, alleged nude photos revealed, and a racist video tribute to famous gorilla Harambe. While there was some backlash towards abusers (former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was given a lifetime ban on Twitter for seemingly orchestrating the initial hate) and an outpouring of celebrity support (the likes of Hillary Clinton, Ava DuVernay, Ellen DeGeners and more showed used the "#LoveForLeslieJ" hashtag), nothing mattered as much as Jones' response.
Appearing on a Weekend Update segment, Jones gave a powerful and inspiring message. "I have spent decades getting roasted by comedians, black comedians at that," she shared. "At a certain point, you stop being embarrassed and start being you—and I have been me for 49 years because the only person who can hack me is me...you can’t embarrass me more than myself. I know all the details because I was there." She then proceeded to mention past life events that included Prince mistaking her for Chris Rock and being attacked by a shovel-wielding woman at a bus stop.
Leslie's message here isn't about the other people or condemning them, but about herself. She isn't letting them have the satisfaction of taking her down, she's already on top of that. While there's undoubtedly some severely racist undertones to her abuse, the comedian gives a message from which anyone can find inspiration.
Jones preaches being unapologetically you, no matter what. It's that authentic dedication to self that will prove why she will continue to be an important voice—in comedy and beyond—and solidify her spot in the future of black history.