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Gabrielle Union Fights Homophobia and Racism on the Same Week

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The last few weeks have been eventful for Gabrielle Union and her family. 

Union’s name has been making headlines since it was revealed that she was fired from her position on NBC’s America’s Got Talent (AGT) along with her co star, Julianne Hough, and that the reasons behind it might have included racial implications. 

Then, on Thanksgiving, Union and her husband, NBA star Dwayne Wade, had to come to the defense of their son, Zion, for wearing a crop top and long nails in their family holiday picture, with Wade saying via tweet, “we will continue to be us and support each other with pride, love & a smile!”

This is not the first time Wade has been vocal about defending his family in the last few weeks. When the news broke out about Union’s firing, it was Wade’s candid tweets that started to hint that there might have been racial bias and, perhaps, more going on at AGT that led to Union’s firing.

“‘Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t’,” Wade tweeted. “Over this past year I’ve been approached by many people saying that my wife is the main reason they’ve started watching [America’s Got Talent] or that they love her insight and sincerity on the show. (…) If anyone knows [Gabrielle] or have heard of her you know she’s an advocate for our community and culture.”

After Wade’s allegations, it was revealed by Variety that there had been several uncomfortable incidents at the AGT set, including an instance where guest host Jay Leno made a racially charged joke that allegedly upset Union.

Last Tuesday, NBC issued a revised statement on the issue after the network sat with Union for five hours in a fact-finding meeting they called “candid and productive” and has now opened a formal investigation into allegations of racist remarks and a hostile work environment reported by Union.

“While there will be a further investigation to get a deeper understanding of the facts, we are working with Gabrielle to come to a positive resolution,” an NBC spokesperson said, according to Variety.

For her part, Union has echoed the positive outcome of the meeting and says she was able to speak freely.

Union tweeted: “I was able to, again, express my unfiltered truth. I led with transparency and my desire and hope for real change.”

After the report, a series of high profile celebrities including Ellen Pompeo, Ariana Grande, Patricia Arquette and Kerry Washington came forward in support. Then, last week, Tina Tchen, president and chief executive officer of Time’s Up Now, released a statement voicing her support for Union and lamenting the poor treatment she received at AGT.

“Gabrielle Union’s experience at ‘America’s Got Talent’ is exemplary of the double bind that black women face at work,” the statement reads. “Union’s story is deeply troubling on its own, but her experience is particularly problematic because it follows a pattern of NBCUniversal protecting the careers of powerful men at the expense of women who speak out.”

The second season of “America’s Got Talent: The Champions,” is scheduled to premiere on January 6, without Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough.

Alexandra Tirado Oropeza is a Venezuelan journalist covering politics, immigration, entertainment and social justice. She moved to the U.S. in 2014 to pursue a Writing degree at The University of Tampa, and after graduating, she moved to Los Angeles where she works in broadcast and as a freelance writer. She’s passionate about equality, freedom of speech, art and dogs.