Politics

Marion Barry Slams HBO Over Use Of White Writers In Biopic

“Some white people really do think they should tell the history of black experiences. Sad paternalists. We can speak for ourselves,” Barry wrote in one tweet.

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File

WASHINGTON — DC City Council member and former Mayor Marion Barry slammed HBO for hiring two white writers to pen an upcoming biopic about him, accusing the network of paternalism and attempting to speak for black Americans in a series of tweets.

Barry, a beloved figure in Washington, is perhaps best known for his 1990 arrest at the Vista Hotel for smoking crack during an FBI sting.

Barry, whose autobiography Mayor for Life is set to be released later this year, took to Twitter Friday morning to vent his frustration over HBO’s decision to hire local reporter Tom Sherwood and crime novelist George Pelecanos to write the screenplay for the movie based on Barry’s life. Sherwood is the co-author of Dream City, which will serve as the basis for the money.

“Some white people really do think they should tell the history of black experiences. Sad paternalists. We can speak for ourselves,” Barry wrote in one tweet.

You ought to be ashamed of yourself @tomsherwood. How does it feel to profit off of my life? Off of my service? My struggles?

— Marion S. Barry, Jr. (@marionbarryjr)

Does it feel good @tomsherwood to write about my life, to profit from my life? Just because u are asked doesn't not make it right. #Coopt

— Marion S. Barry, Jr. (@marionbarryjr)

Just so u know @hbo, @tomsherwood, U don't know the half of my life.But u don't care u just want 2 exploit another man's life 4 ur own gain

— Marion S. Barry, Jr. (@marionbarryjr)

Really @Tomsherwood do think u even know me or my history to TRY to write about MY life? Typical. The lion always wants to tell the story.

— Marion S. Barry, Jr. (@marionbarryjr)

Hide behind your contract with @hbo @tomsherwood. But u cannot hide from me your arrogance & exploitation & disrespect.

— Marion S. Barry, Jr. (@marionbarryjr)

Some white people really do think they should tell the history of black experiences. Sad paternalists. We can speak for ourselves.

— Marion S. Barry, Jr. (@marionbarryjr)

Barry also attacked Spike Lee, who is producing the movie, and had particular scorn for John Ridley, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave — whose 2006 Esquire essay “The Manifesto of Ascendancy for the Modern American Nigger” was harshly criticized by many in the black community.

@SpikeLee I've always respected YOU & a filmmaker but I'm disgusted that @hbo is trying to tell MY life w/o working w/the 1 who lived it.

— Marion S. Barry, Jr. (@marionbarryjr)

@hbo @SpikeLee between Ridleys nigger rant & @tomsherwood career of disdain, yeah, this is ridiculous. http://t.co/Jbr9t8tXD5

— Marion S. Barry, Jr. (@marionbarryjr)

Barry could not be reached for comment. During an interview on the Kojo Nnamdi radio show Friday afternoon, Sherwood said, “I just have the greatest respect for [Barry] … I know the whole story, we told it in Dream City.”

“But that doesn’t mean that I sugarcoat anything he says or does that I think is not good or … is shown not to be good,” he added.

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