This is Jessica Mulroney. We’ve talked about her a few times in the past. Here she is with the reason we’re talking about her, her former/ex/who even knows best friend, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.
You might remember Jessica from her role as wife of Canadian media personality Ben Mulroney and daughter in law of former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. This association earned Jessica some middling success and fame as a “stylist” and “influencer” in Toronto in the 2010s.
Maybe you remember her from when she posted a glamour shot of herself on Instagram last Canadian Remembrance Day. A perfect day to remember the brave work…that Jessica Mulroney has put into herself. Lest We Forget.
But if you do know who Jessica is, it’s probably because she was involved in a social media spat with Black Toronto influencer Sasha Exeter last June, regarding white privilege and racism on Jessica’s part. Here is a rundown for those of you who would like a refresher:
The Coles Notes version goes something like this: Toronto influencer Sasha Exeter posted about Black Lives Matter and Jessica Mulroney read into Sasha’s post that Sasha was criticizing Jessica for staying silent on the Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd. Some behind the scenes drama went down, in which Jessica threatened Sasha’s livelihood by saying that she would more or less contact all of Sasha’s advertisers and tell them that she was a “problem”. Sasha did an Instagram Live about Jessica threatening her and called out the subtle racism and white privilege that Jessica had allegedly been demonstrating behind the scenes for years. Jessica then messaged Sasha on Instagram, “Liable suit. Good luck.”
Okay, the first thing that we need to talk about is that Jessica misspelled “libel” suit. Chef’s kiss. The second thing is that all of Jessica’s alleged behind the scenes comments to Sasha, although seemingly innocuous, were carefully worded threats to Sasha, basically telling her that if she revealed what Jessica was actually like in private, she would destroy Sasha by using her privileges as 1) a white woman; 2) a woman of enormous wealth (her family is independently wealthy AND she married into a rich and well-connected political family; and 3) her national and international platforms as a stylist/woman about town/ best friend of a UK duchess. Jessica didn’t need to say these things out loud in order to threaten Sasha. The level and knowledge of her privilege made saying it out loud unnecessary. But by saying that she would go after Sasha’s means of making a living for herself and her daughter? That is dripping with racism. It’s telling Sasha, “People will believe me because I’m a beautiful white woman from a nice family, and people will turn on you because you are not.”
It’s the equivalent of a mob boss saying “You have a nice house. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.” Technically, nothing threatening was said. But are you going to sleep soundly the night a mob boss says that to you?
Anyway, once Jessica started losing brand deals and money over the Sasha Instagram video and subsequent reveal of the “liable suit” comment, she scooted up to a desk, put her biggest pair of Dior glasses on, and typed out seven separate Instagram apologies. (You can see them in Part 4 of my previous story on it.) But the damage was done. Over the space of a few days in June, Jessica Mulroney had become radioactive. But, worse than the loss of the brand deals, Meghan had distanced herself from Jessica.
Since all of this happened last June, Jessica deleted her social media accounts, took some courses on privilege, racism, and Black and Indigenous identity, and started a book club promoting works on racial equality by BIPOC authors. Ha! Just kidding. She wrote a bunch of passive aggressive Instagram stories about living her best life despite “haters” and “fake news”, tried to launch a line of flower girl dresses, and posted glamour shots of herself to Instagram with inspiring captions like: ““Faux” python boots. Day to night. #1 or 2?” She seems truly changed.
Jessica has attempted a comeback more than a few times since last June. There was, as I said before, the line of flower girl dresses. There was the launch of The Female Empowerment Project, “A group of female experts in the world of finance, law, manufacturing, marketing and social media mentoring small female founded businesses in Canada”, which currently has four Instagram posts (one of which is a pic of Jessica in a business suit and oversize glasses). There was the launch of The Teacher’s Registry, which is “a program started by Jessica Mulroney, dedicated to helping teachers provide their students with essential supplies for learning & play.” It has eight Instagram posts, ONE OF WHICH IS JESSICA IN HIGH HEELS LITERALLY BEING PRESENTED FLOWERS BY A TEACHER. There was the exclusive New York Post article in which Jessica cried, in the midst of a global pandemic that has now killed more than 2 million people, that, after her scandal, things were very difficult for her and that she and Meghan are still very close.
And now she is on comeback number I don’t know which, in which a National Post article exclaims, “Text messages exonerate Jessica Mulroney after she was cancelled last summer”.
This article, written by opinion columnist (not journalist) Barbara Kay, “exonerates” Jessica by basically proving everything Sasha said last summer to be true. Jessica gave Kay eight pages of text messages and DMs between herself and Sasha when the Black Lives Matter protests were happening last summer in order to clear her name.
The most shocking part of the story, in my opinion, is the following quote:
Jessica tells me she is unsure what her mistake is or was.
Kay argues in the National Post piece that we are living through two pandemics – one health-related, and another obsessed with cancelling people without due process. Things have been awful for Jessica, Kay wrote. The world has turned on her. Kay writes that “The first time I spoke with Jessica, she sobbed with gratitude: I was the sole journalist in Canada or beyond to seek her side of the story in good faith.” I’m glad that Kay considers herself and Jessica arbiters of who, in the world, is telling any story at any moment in time in good faith. Finally, some unbiased journalism on the crisis of our generation: whether Jessica Mulroney deserves a new contract with Hudson’s Bay.
The “bombshell” texts turn out to basically read exactly how Sasha described the tone of her conversation with Jessica last June. On June 3, Jessica begins apologizing profusely to Sasha, saying that she was sorry for the way she had gone about talking about the BLM movement with Sasha and that she understood that the important thing was the movement rather than herself. It’s in this section of the article that Kay adds twice in parentheses: “(Jessica says she is now fearful of where Sasha’s anger will take her, and the fulsome apologies begin)” and “(Jessica tells me she is not sure why at this point she is still apologizing; she thought it might tone down the anger).”
These quotes are incredible dog-whistle racism. They are a tactic used by Jessica and Kay to paint Sasha as an overly emotional and angry Black woman. She is Black so she is unpredictable, they want you to think. She is something we white women don’t understand. She could attack us at any moment. She is something to be feared. That is what calling a Black woman angry over and over in a story is. It’s not there by mistake.
After a back and forth between Jessica and Sasha in which Jessica continues to ask Sasha forgiveness, she tells Sasha, “Well, your silence is understood. We don’t always do it the right way. But we learn from our mistakes. Take care.” But that isn’t the end, because Jessica cannot let the conversation end without seeking approval and forgiveness from Sasha. She wants the satisfaction of being told that she’s forgiven by a Black woman. She wants Sasha to absolve her by saying, “There, there, friend. Everything is okay.” And because Sasha (bravely) does not do that, because she does not give Jessica a pass, Jessica threatens Sasha by writing, “I won’t be afraid to go to brands and tell them what you are doing to me.”
It’s important to note that at this point in the story, just after Jessica’s tenth unacknowledged apology and just before the “I won’t be afraid to go to brands and tell them what you are doing to me”, Kay adds in parentheses, “(Finally Jessica breaks.)” So Sasha speaking her truth about her lived experience of racism and white privilege and police brutality is seen as frightening and angry and aggressive. It is written as though, if Sasha had become belligerent, it would have been because Sasha is an angry black woman. But when Jessica “breaks”, it is earned. It is deserved. Sasha had put her under so much pressure. There was only so much that Jessica could take. So she broke. It was inevitable. White women deserve the benefit of the doubt; Black women do not.
Next, Kay completely negates the argument of the whole article, which is that Jessica absolutely did not threaten Sasha at any point. On June 4, Kay writes, “Jessica: “I woke up this morning still shook by what I said to you (Jessica is referring to the threat to contact the brands).” This is the last paragraph of Kay’s article:
If the messages I have seen are otherwise a complete record then Jessica did nothing wrong. Sasha not only threatened Jessica first, she never withdrew the threat even after Jessica’s multiple apologies for a “crime” that was never defined. Jessica’s threat was a desperate hail-Mary pass to make the bullying stop, and even then was immediately followed by more grovelling apologies. Yet it was on the basis of Sasha’s alleged fear for her career and safety that observers felt Jessica deserved to be cancelled.Barbara Kay, National Post, January 2021
Let me get this straight. Jessica was apparently so terrified of Sasha that she felt the only possible action was to threaten Sasha right back. But because Sasha “threatened Jessica first” (I would dispute that Sasha threatened Jessica, but let’s pretend that she did), it’s allowed – encouraged, even. Jessica’s threats were not threats: they were desperate attempts to evade an angry, bullying Black woman. Sasha’s comments were not pleas to a woman of wealth and privilege to see her complicity in a system rigged against people like her – they were threats. So, at least in Jessica and Kay’s eyes, Jessica’s actions were warranted. We do what we need to do if a Black person scares us. Dog whistle dog whistle dog whistle.
Also, for the record, Jessica was not “cancelled last summer.” She faced consequences (the dropped brand endorsements and TV series) for her actions last summer. But she was not, as Kay writes, subject to a “professional cancellation and social shunning.” Jessica still has clients. She’s still working with Mindy Kaling. She’s still able to get exclusives into Page Six and the National Post. She has remained, in other words, exactly what she was before this happened: a rich, privileged woman using dog-whistle racism, threats, and intimidation to get her way; a manipulator who will say or do what she needs to in order to get what she wants; and a narcissist who would rather post a glamour shot of herself on Remembrance Day than post about servicepeople or – maybe – just wait until November 12 to post the next shot of her airbrushed face, hair done and makeup perfectly in place. And the worst part is this: if she does post another tone-deaf photograph, or caption, or both, and gets called out for it, I’m sure she will tell a sympathetic journalist that she is unsure what her mistake is or was. And her privilege will get it posted in another national newspaper.