Celebs Who Were Fired Due To Alleged Racism

In the last decade or so, we've seen more people lose their jobs and their social standing for saying or doing inappropriate things than any other time in history. Some people call it "cancel culture," or they blame it on the "snowflake generation," but it's likely more straightforward than that. We are quite simply in an age when people are held accountable for their actions and the things they do and say.

For celebrities, the consequences for misbehavior can be career-altering. Social media, for one, ensures that news spreads like wildfire. If nothing else, unchecked racism seems to be a thing of the past for those in the limelight. They can lose sponsorships, TV and radio shows, and fan support. With the eyes of the world on racism and the Black Lives Matter movement, we decided to look at some famous people who have had their actions or words exposed. Here is a list of celebs who were fired due to alleged racism.

Imus be racist

The late Don Imus was a radio personality known for his crude and often racist sense of humor. He got used to skating over controversy and getting away with saying and giving a platform to some very questionable material. He was even called the "good-natured racist" by the Los Angeles Times. In 2007, however, it seems that the people and the networks grew tired of tolerating his antics. 

During a segment on his then-30-year-old show, Imus in the Morning, the shock jock called the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed ho's," as per The New York Times. Soon after, both NBC News and CBS Radio responded to the calls for Imus' removal from the radio and suspended him for two weeks. According to NPR, those moves were made permanent by the networks a couple of days later, likely influenced by the removal campaigns waged by Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Imus' show was canceled, but he would eventually find his way back on the air. Less than a year later, he returned to radio with a new cast and new show on WABC.

Paula Deen cooked up a scandal

Back in 2013, a controversy mounted around Paula Deen regarding her racist behavior. It started when a manager of one of her restaurants, Lisa T. Jackson, filed a harassment lawsuit against her. In Deen's testimony, the Southern food personality admitted to using racial epithets and tolerating racist jokes. Deen also spoke about her hopes that her brother, Bubba, could have had a "southern style plantation wedding." This vision was allegedly inspired by a restaurant she had visited in which the all-black serving staff dressed in white dress jackets and black bow-ties. 

After the video deposition leaked, the celeb chef was slammed by critics for the revelations. According to The New York Times, the culinary star posted two apologies to YouTube, only the last of which stayed up. In the second video, she stated that "Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter." For the Food Network, however, it was too little too late. According to The New York Times, a network spokesperson announced that they "would not renew [her] contract when it expired at the end of June."

A Twitter tirade from Anthony Cumia

Anthony Cumia was one half of the radio duo, Opie and Anthony, for nearly two decades starting in 1995. The show began airing on Sirius XM in 2004 and came crashing down in 2014 — at least for Cumia. According to the radio host, he was taking pictures at Times Square, N.Y., when a woman, who got in the frame, assaulted him. He responded with a full-blown meltdown on Twitter. In the now-deleted tweets, which were preserved on Gawker, Cumia lashed out at the woman and her race, called her a "savage," stated "there's a deep seeded problem with violence in the black community," and that white people were "prey." 

According to The New York Times, Cumia and the show had been in hot water before. They had been reprimanded and suspended in the past, but the controversy was too big for a slap on the wrist this time. Sirius XM made the decision to fire Cumia for his tirade "after careful consideration of his racially charged and hate-filled remarks." They added that his behavior was "wholly inconsistent with what Sirius XM represents."

Roseanne Barred from ABC

In March of 2018, Roseanne returned to television after more than 20 years on the shelf and did so with enormous numbers. According to The Washington Post, the series premiere marked ABC's biggest hour-long telecast since 2006. Unfortunately, the celebration didn't last long. The star of the show, controversial comedian, Roseanne Barr, took to Twitter one May evening to suggest — in a now-deleted tweet — that Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, a black woman, was the product if the "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby" (via CNBC).

Hours later, ABC canceled Roseanne, which had been renewed for another season, citing Barr's "abhorrent, repugnant" statement as the reason (via NPR). Her agency, ICM Partners, also dropped her. In the following days, Barr fired off a series of tweets explaining and apologizing, most of which have since been deleted, as per Deadline. She apologized to Jarrett, claimed she was "ambien tweeting," and apologized to the actors and writers who lost their jobs in the cancellation. During this time, however, she also responded in shock to her co-stars, like Sara Gilbert and Michael Fishman, for rebuking her comments. This called into question the legitimateness of her apologies.

Blackface is not a costume, Megyn Kelly

Megyn Kelly is no stranger to controversial comments regarding race. This is, after all, the person who laughed at the suggestion that Santa Claus could be anything other than white, telling the kids at home that "Santa just is white." But it was her discussion of blackface that got Kelly fired from an NBC gig in 2018.

In October of that year, the all-white panel on Megyn Kelly Today discussed the appropriateness of blackface for Halloween costumes. "What is racist?" Kelly asked. "You do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Like, that was OK when I was a kid, as long as you were dressing like a character." 

Shortly afterward, Kelly sent an email to NBC staffers apologizing for her tone-deaf discussion, explaining that she has "never been a 'pc' [politically correct] type of person" (via US Weekly). The following day, she returned to the air and apologized to her viewers, receiving an oddly-placed standing ovation for it as well. The day after that, NBC ran a rerun in place of Kelly's show, and the cancellation followed shortly after, as per US Weekly.

Cherry not on top

Former NHL coach and hockey personality Don Cherry made a living off his unapologetic and brash persona. He often said the first thing that came to his mind and was long celebrated for it. Over the years, however, his brand of nationalistic commentary began to wear on people. During a segment of Coach's Corner in November of 2019, Cherry gave his last nationally broadcasted rant, this one about the lack of poppies being worn, particularly by Canadian immigrants.

"You people love — they come here [or] whatever it is — you love our way of life, love our milk and honey," Cherry said. "At least you could pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada." This was one of a long list of controversial comments that Cherry has made. He's taken aim at Colin Kaepernick's anthem protest, and he's mocked and criticized Europeans for years. His stance on immigrants isn't new, either. In a 1990 interview with CBC, he bragged about his nationalism and complained about "foreigners coming over earning the dough."

After these latest xenophobic comments, Cherry was let go by Sportsnet. "Sports brings people together – it unites us, not divides us," Bart Yabsley, Sportsnet president, said (via USA Today). "Following further discussions with Don Cherry after Saturday night's broadcast, it has been decided that it is the right time for him to immediately step down."

Breaking the Vanderpump Rules

Vanderpump Rules did some spring cleaning in June of 2020 and axed four cast members for their alleged racist behavior. The cleansing began after former cast member Faith Stowers recalled some of the attacks she faced as the only black person on the show. Speaking on Candace Instagram Live, Stowers said that the cast was "Calling me names, saying my hair was nappy."

She also said that cast members Kristen Doute and Stassi Schroeder decided that she fit the description for a criminal who was on the run and reported her. "This woman was robbing people," Stowers said. "And they called the cops and said it was me." According to Page Six, this was just some of the alleged racist behavior from the two castmates.

The uproar from this incident led to the resurfacing of previous racist tweets from new cast members Brett Caprioni and Max Boyens. Both men had apologized and were kept on the show in the past, but they were not afforded the same luxury this time around. "Bravo and Evolution Media confirmed today that Stassi Schroeder, Kristen Doute, Max Boyens and Brett Caprioni will not be returning to 'Vanderpump Rules,'" a show rep told Page Six.

MTV has a change of heart

Shortly before Taylor Selfridge's new special was scheduled to air on MTV, the network shelved the broadcast. "MTV pulled Teen Mom OG At Home: Cory & Taylor's Baby Special from its Tuesday schedule and is ending our relationship with Taylor Selfridge in light of her past racist statements on social media," an MTV spokesperson told People. "MTV strongly condemns systemic racism and stands with those raising their voices against injustice."

According to The Blast, this reaction was in response to a slew of 2012 and 2013 tweets in which Selfridge wrote disparaging remarks about black people, including one that read, "We have to greet everyone at work but sometimes I won't greet the Black people because they scare me." While better late than never, MTV had been aware of these racist tweets for a while. In fact, Cheyenne Floyd even confronted Selfridge about them in Teen Mom OG episode on the network (via ET Online).

Interestingly, in a statement posted to her Instagram story, Selfridge apologized for her actions but also suggested that she had decided to back out of the special and not the other way around. "I don't believe the reality tv lifestyle benefits me any further at this point in my life," she wrote. "With current events being what they are and reality tv being selective in who they apply rules to or what is considered acceptable behavior, I do not have any further respect."

Stepping out of line

Abby Lee Miller was the dance instructor for eight seasons on Lifetime's Dance Moms. If that's not all, she and Lifetime also had a new spin-off in the works. According to Entertainment Weekly, the 12-episode show called Abby's Virtual Dance Off was a "pandemic-friendly" dance competition. Miller's show was canceled, however, when she was accused of making racist comments.

After Miller posted a black square to Instagram in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, Adriana Smith, the mother of Dance Moms contestant Kamryn, responded. "Don't Act Like You Care," she wrote in her own post. "A statement from [Miller] that sticks in my mind to this day during my time on DMS8 is 'I know you grew up in the HOOD with only a box of 8 crayons, but I grew up in the Country Club with a box of 64 – don't be stupid ...This to me shows that you think you are better than me and in higher rank and all together superior to ME! This to me shows that you don't give a f**k about me or where I came from."

According to E! News, Miller was also accused of derogatory behavior by another mother, Camille Bridges. She claims that her daughter, Camryn, was cast in a racist light by Miller when she was on the show. Miller has since apologized in an Instagram post.

Gone in a flash

For three seasons, Hartley Sawyer played Ralph Dibny on The Flash, but when a number of horrifying tweets from 2012 to 2014 on his now-deleted Twitter account were brought to light, the network and producers took action. In addition to a flurry of violent and misogynistic tweets, Sawyer tweeted, "The only thing keeping me from doing mildly racist tweets is the knowledge that Al Sharpton would never stop complaining about me" (via The Hollywood Reporter).

While he issued an apology on Instagram, Sawyer was ultimately fired. "Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for Season 7 of The Flash," the show's producers, Warner Bros. Television and Berlanti Productions, said in a statement to Variety. "In regards to Mr. Sawyer's posts on social media, we do not tolerate derogatory remarks that target any race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation. Such remarks are antithetical to our values and policies, which strive and evolve to promote a safe, inclusive and productive environment for our workforce."

Misery on Glee

On May 29, 2020, actress Lea Michele, best known for her starring role on Glee, tweeted her abhorrence with the murder of George Floyd and her solidarity with Black Lives Matter. A couple of days later, Samantha Ware, the actress who played Jane Hayward on Glee's sixth season, responded. In all caps, Ware accused the actress of making her "her first television gig a living hell." She added that Michele made her "question a career in Hollywood" with "traumatic microaggressions."

Michele apologized afterward, stating that, while she didn't remember the exchanges with Ware, "What matters is that I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people." That same day, HelloFresh, a brand Michele has a paid partnership with, ended their relationship with her. "HelloFresh does not condone racism nor discrimination of any kind. We are disheartened and disappointed to learn of the recent claims concerning Lea Michele," the company posted to Twitter in response to a concerned follower. "We take this very seriously, and have ended our partnership with Lea Michele, effective immediately."

Abusing white privilege

Jessica Mulroney was once a celebrated influencer, a contributor on Good Morning America, and the best friend of one of the most famous Black women on the planet, Meghan Markle. Now, however, she's embroiled in a controversy over her abuse of white privilege. According to a 2020 Instagram post from lifestyle blogger, Sasha Exeter, Mulroney attempted to silence her efforts to raise awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement, among other influencers.

"One very prominent Canadian figure, who used to be an acquaintance of mine, named Jessica Mulroney, took offense to a very generic call-to-action that I shared on my IG stories," Exeter said in the video. "What happened next was a series of very problematic behavior and antics that ultimately resulted in [Mulroney] sending me a threat in writing last Wednesday, June the 3rd." She goes on to call this behavior "textbook white privilege." 

According to Town and Country Magazine, Mulroney first replied to Exeter's post with an apology, then threatened to sue her, then posted a longer Instagram apology. The damage had been done. CTV dropped Mulroney's show I Do Redo, and Good Morning America cut their ties with Mulroney as well, as per Daily Mail.