Acclaimed novelist Walter Mosley revealed today that he decided to leave Star Trek: Discovery after his use of a racial epithet in the writers room of the CBS All Access series resulted in Human Resources telling him that “I could not use that word except in a script.”
“My answer to H.R. was to resign and move on,” the Easy Rawlins mystery novels author and Snowfall consulting producer wrote in an op-ed entitled “Why I Quit The Writers’ Room,” published Friday on the New York Times website about the fallout from his use of the N-word.
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“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,” Mosley asserted, while never naming the Sonequa Martin-Green-led Discovery he had a short stint of less than an month on. “My every word would be scrutinized. Sooner or later I’d be fired or worse — silenced.”
The recent Edgar Allan Poe Award winner added. “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.”
“We have the greatest admiration for Mr. Mosley’s writing talents and were excited to have him join Star Trek: Discovery,” CBS Studios said in a statement in response to the NYT post today and the experience on the Alex Kurtzman-EP’d series.
“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,” the soon-to-be ViacomCBS unit stated, seemingly wanting to have the best of both worlds.
“We wish Mr. Mosley much continued success,” the statement added.
“Someone in the room, I have no idea who, called H.R. and said that my use of the word made them uncomfortable, and the H.R. representative called to inform me that such language was unacceptable to my employers,” Mosley noted in the NYT piece. He said his use of the derogatory term came while relating a story involving the police that he says he was recounting to some fellow Discovery scribes.
“I was telling a true story as I remembered it,” Mosley wrote.
“I couldn’t use that word in common parlance, even to express an experience I lived through,” he wrote.
Back for a third season next year, streaming series Discovery is known to have a fairly inclusive writers’ room with a number of African-American, Native American, Latinx, Asian-American and Indigenous-American scribe staffers working with showrunner and Trekverse kingpin Kurtzman
As well as his work on FX’s Snowfall and dozens of novels, Mosley has participated in several adaptations of his work, such as the 1995 Denzel Washington film Devil in a Blue Dress.
THR first reported that Mosley had departed Discovery.