Star Trek: Discovery writer Walter Mosley recently penned an essay regarding his experience in the writer’s room and why it led him to resign from his job. A best-selling novelist who had previously written for Snowfall, Mosley had only been with the Star Trek: Discovery writing team for a few weeks when he received a call from the human resources department. Mosley, an African-American writer, states the reason he left the CBS All Access series was because his freedom of speech was being limited.
In an opinion piece published by The New York Times, Walter Mosley expressed his disbelief over being called out for using the n-word in the writers’ room. According to Mosley, he didn't call anyone the slur, but he used the word in a story about a Los Angeles police officer who told him he stopped [n-words] in certain neighborhoods. So he was using the phrase in relaying a story as he recalled it.
After the discussion with human resources, Walter Mosley says he responded with, "I am the n-word in the writers’ room," and questioned how he could be “chastised” for a word he felt he had the right to use.
There I was being chastised for criticizing the word that oppressed me and mine for centuries. As far as I know the word is in the dictionary. As far as I know the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence assure me of both the freedom of speech and the pursuit of happiness. How can I exercise these freedoms when my place of employment tells me that my job is on the line if I say a word that makes somebody, an unknown person, uncomfortable?
The writer made it a point to mention how he was allowed to write the word, but not say it out loud. After meeting with H.R., Mosley decided it was best to “resign and move on." He was convinced that if he didn’t resign, he’d later be terminated or “silenced." Not wanting either scenario to play out, he thought it best to leave on his own terms.
My answer to H.R. was to resign and move on. I was in a writers’ room trying to be creative while at the same time being surveilled by unknown critics who would snitch on me to a disembodied voice over the phone. My every word would be scrutinized. Sooner or later I’d be fired or worse — silenced.
Mosley went on to say that he was able to quit his job because he was “fortunate,” and that no one can “thrive” in a place where they’re being watched as closely as he was.
I’m a fortunate guy. Not everyone can quit their job. But beyond that, we cannot be expected to thrive in a culture where our every word is monitored. If my words physically threaten or bully someone, something must be done about it. But if you tell me that you feel uncomfortable at some word I utter, let me say this: There was a time in America when so-called white people were uncomfortable to have a black person sitting next to them. There was a time when people felt uncomfortable when women demanded the right to vote. There was a time when sexual orientation had only one meaning and everything else was a crime. The worst thing you can do to citizens of a democratic nation is to silence them. And the easiest way to silence a woman or a man is to threaten his or her livelihood.
Of course, Walter Mosley never actually mentions Star Trek: Discovery by name, though the implication is there. Additionally, it was basically confirmed after CBS Studios released a statement in response to his article. They stated that the network was supportive of employees and their concerns and that they wished Mosley luck in his future endeavors.
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.