Muslim Forbes journalist fired for “Justice League” interview


Ray Fisher as Cyborg in Warner Bros. film, “Justice League”.

Muslim Forbes journalist Sheraz Farooqi has been fired over an article he published  concerning actor Ray Fisher’s allegations of abuse by director Joss Whedon and several Warner Bros. executives during reshoots for “Justice League.” 

In August, a Variety news article reported that WarnerMedia had launched an investigation into the production of “Justice League” after Fisher made these allegations of misconduct.

On Oct. 29, 2020, Farroqi published an article detailing an interview with Fisher in which Fisher spoke about his continued dispute with Warner Bros. The story title and some of the quotes have been updated since the article’s publication, as the editors determined that the original story and title “lacked journalistic rigor and fairness.”

The editors added comments from Warner Bros. and representatives of Joss Whedon to maintain an unbiased point of view. They also removed a quote from Fisher, as it was “deemed to be primarily based on third-person information.”

Given the context of the article and the current racial climate of the country, the timing of Farooqi’s firing could not have been worse. The whole point of Farooqi’s article was to give Fisher, an African-American man, a platform to speak out in a time where diverse perspectives are necessary for understanding the world we live in today. Forbes has been trying to form a more diverse team of writers, and firing a writer of color for writing an article on an actor of color detailing an allegation of racism in the movie industry is quite hypocritical. 

In the interview, Fisher alleged that “erasure of people of color” from “Justice League” was “neither accident nor coincidence.” He said that the treatment of the cast and crew of “Justice League” was “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable,” and that Whedon was enabled by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg, two of the movie’s producers. Fisher also claimed that many “blatantly racist conversations were had and entertained” by top-level executives at Warner Bros. Pictures, including Johns and Berg. These conversations allegedly resulted in the whitewashing of the movie, as many actors of color had their roles either completely cut or significantly reduced. 

Fisher’s allegations are very serious and, if discovered to be true, could be yet another case of racism in the movie industry. Racism in the movie industry is far too common and actors of color are only recently beginning to overcome the many barriers that have been placed in their way. 

Actors of color have long had trouble finding roles that are not race-specific. Many actors are tired of playing stereotypical roles created by a team of writers who, more often than not, do not look like them. This is part of the reason why it is so important to take actors seriously when they make allegations of racism and abuse. 

Acts of racism in Hollywood need to be brought to light. Although some movies or shows may seem inclusive, audiences must also focus on what goes on behind the scenes. Audiences must also value the writers who are tasked with reporting tough subjects. Writers of color like Sheraz Farooqi are extremely important, and I am deeply saddened that his firing means one less person of color writing for Forbes.