Cost of Culture: A Corporate Black Woman’s “Worthiness” Evaluated After Tyler Perry’s Work Ethic Brag Triggered Twitter Backlash

Perry’s digital display of “work ethic” placed a spotlight upon a silent burden carried by blacks and other people of color (inclusive of immigrants) for years.

The burden comes from the ancestral adage rooted in ideologies around work ethic,  echoed by African parents, Caribbean parents, black parents in the  and ancestors, across the diaspora: “you have to work twice as hard to get half as far as whites.”

Social constructs, implicit biases, and cultural expectations are all-encompassing in this adage and have triggered many people of color to adopt toxic or unhealthy ideologies around work ethic and perhaps a form of anxiety, usually glorified as workaholism– usually touted, masked or celebrated as “work ethic”.

It’s an illness that I believe plagues the community of color (emphasis on Immigrants) and has far more of a negative impact (mental, emotional, psychological) than we know.

When our work ethic is tied to our worthiness it perpetuates an ideology of never being enough.

The following are symptoms of an unhealthy ideology around work ethic :

  • The “work hard” symptom
  • The “accumulate credentials” symptom
  • The “hyper-focus on praise and recognition” symptom
  • The “I can do it all by myself” symptom

The Tyler Perry backlash shaking the internet is about Perry’s recent twitter braggadocious behavior around his work ethic. Tyler Perry came under fire for a video that he posted on Twitter. Take a look below:

In the video, he said “I have no writer’s room, nobody writes any of my work. I write it all.” He boasts that every script pictured in the video, he wrote all on his own. After he posted this video, which has about 3.5 million views at the time of writing this, fans and critics alike took to Twitter to voice their concerns.



In my African culture (I’m a Nigerian-Ghanaian-American), my hyper-focus on accumulations of titles, certificates, diplomas,  press and media,  verbose, go-getter, drive to be the best, was reinforced and praised. Not that I didn’t like the rush that came with accomplishment. I just never realized when I became addicted to the rush. I was praised only when I reached the next milestone, only to be met with comparison to my peers or challenged for slowing down.

So I grinded more, treating any desire for a break as anti-work-ethic. It was challenging for me to comprehend that my productivity wasn’t tied to my worthiness.

From this, I became insanely obsessed with being seen as successful (and praised for it) and doing it with very little help or guidance from anyone. My obsession manifested itself into an unhealthy relationship with success, money, and the appearance of being able to do everything (including building multi-billion dollar empires)  by myself. To the outside world (particularly my community), my work ethic was insane and admirable. I thought so as well.



One of the common critiques of Mr. Perry is that a man with this much power (and a black man at that) and the opportunity to hire more creatives of color but just completely opting out is disheartening and upsetting. But when he went on the View to offer an explanation, it seemed to be just another excuse on not wanting to pay writers and people being critical of his work.

His most recent movie, “A Fall from Grace,” was just released on Netflix. Critics and the audience agree that it was pretty much a mess. There were so many problems with it from continuity mistakes, the use of the “angry black woman” trope that he constantly uses, and just bad writing in general. Fast Company puts it perfectly when they explain the plot: “A Fall From Grace is a romance-gone-dark story that follows a well-worn Perry pattern: Woman falls for the wrong guy. A woman’s life is decimated. Fin. But aside from a paper-thin plot and horrendous wigs, there are bigger issues to contend with: The film is riddled with continuity errors and mistakes that fall under filmmaker 101 no-nos.”

Take a look at some of the mistakes that viewers found:

And the holy grail!

Let Hueish know what you think. Do you think that Tyler Perry should get a writer’s room or can he do bad all by himself?  Do you/your culture have an unhealthy relationship with work ethic?

How do we, as a culture, begin to chip away at this unhealthy relationship with productivity?

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