“I’d been in the new room for a few weeks when I got the call from Human Resources. A pleasant-sounding young man said, “Mr. Mosley, it has been reported that you used the N-word in the writers’ room.” – Walter Mosley
On 6 September, award-winning author, Walter Mosley, penned an op-ed in the New York Times detailing the facts and circumstances that lead him to quit the Star Trek: Discovery writers’ room. After leaving the Snowfall writers’ room for the season, the writer took a job with CBS to work on Star Trek: Discovery. After having been there for a few weeks, he relayed a personal story about an interaction he had with a Los Angeles police officer.
“I just told a story about a cop who explained to me, on the streets of Los Angeles, that he stopped all n**gers in paddy neighborhoods and all paddies in n**ger neighborhoods, because they were usually up to no good. I was telling a true story as I remembered it.”
He was subsequently told by H.R. that he could not use that word except in a script. Star Trek is not unfamiliar with this disgusting epithet. In “Far Beyond the Stars,” a 1998 episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it’s used to frame a racist interaction in a writers’ room.
When Mosley initially penned to op-ed, neither the writer, nor the production was identified, but THR later confirmed that it was CBS Studios, who then submitted a statement to the outlet.
“We have the greatest admiration for Mr. Mosley’s writing talents and were excited to have him join ‘Star Trek: Discovery.’ While we cannot comment on the specifics of confidential employee matters, we are committed to supporting a workplace where employees feel free to express concerns and where they feel comfortable performing their best work. We wish Mr. Mosley much continued success.”
Though I completely understand his rationale for leaving, I’m extremely disappointed at the departure. Having read several of his books, I can only imagine what he could have brought to the series.
Two things bother me about this story. The first is that he was quoting a story about something that happened to him in an interaction with the police. The second is that the individual ran to HR, rather than having the fortitude to tell the writer that they were bothered by what he’d said. Star Trek: Discovery is worse for this loss. I hope that fragile soul in the writers’ room gets help.
Star Trek: Discovery is set to return to CBS All Access January 2020.
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