I have an image in my mind of a well-meaning attractive blond woman, with stylish rectangle glasses, exasperatingly asking in a high-pitched voice, “Whyyyyy does this Oscar-thing have to be about race? Whyyyyyy does everything have to be about race?”
Then I slap the shit out of her…
…With knowledge( I would never really slap her. Come on guys, I’m not the violent type). I still know that I would be frustrated by my White sister’s question. It’s a question that we have all heard before. I believe that it’s a well-meaning question — although it is still ignorant as fuck. But, ignorance is indeed bliss—when it comes to the way this world works.
So let me provide these well-meaning questioners with a little reality check to funk up things. The Academy, the people whose identities are kept top secret (so there is no real accountability) is 94% White and 77% Male. The average age is 62. So, Black folks didn’t make this situation about race, the academy did when it made the choice to almost exclusively hire old white men.
On surface, these statistics may not seem like a big deal, particularly for those who conveniently would like to think that they and the world are colorblind; but psychology study after study has proven that humans are attracted to people who resemble themselves, hire people who remind them of themselves, advocate for people who are similar to them. In other words, a White male is significantly more likely to recognize the talent in and award another White male. This is a scientific fact.
Life has supported the science. The 2016 Academy Awards nominations were announced Jan. 14, and for the second year running every acting nominee was white.
Did you hear what I said? Every single one. Even on shows like “The Bachelor” they throw in one or two Black folks to make it look respectable. I mean who didn’t look at the list of nominees and not think about just throwing a Black person in there? Shit, make up an award if you have to. There were 305 films eligible this year. If hiring reflected the U.S. population, Oscar voters would have weighed 150-plus films directed by women, 45 directed by blacks, 50 by Hispanics, and dozens of movies by directors who are Asian-American, LGBT individuals, people with disabilities and members of other minorities.
Many have said that Black actors only win awards when they play a slave, whore, maid or criminal. This, too, is a fact. Now I don’t want to take away from the actors who won roles playing these parts because I feel that they did exceptional work. But, why is our talent only seen when we are in those roles? I assert that just as all people are drawn to people like them; we are also drawn to images that fit our paradigm.
If we are predisposed, if our brains are prepared and ready to see a slave as a Black person, we are more apt to see the talent because we are comfortable with the image. Think about how White people continuously cast White people as Egyptians—(like how in the F$%k do you just switch a race)? They are more comfortable seeing themselves as kings and queens than seeing us as kings and queens. You better pick up a mop and broom and tryout for “The Help 2, The Sequel.”
Now the Black President of the Academy, Boone Isaacs, has said I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes.
But, Frank Pierson, a former academy president who won an Oscar for original screenplay for “Dog Day Afternoon” in 1976, said merit is the primary criterion for membership:
“I don’t see any reason why the academy should represent the entire American population. That’s what the People’s Choice Awards are for,” said Pierson, who still serves on the board of governors. “We represent the professional filmmakers, and if that doesn’t reflect the general population, so be it.”
So I’s don’t see a change a-comin soon. Boone Isaacs has a large task ahead of her with a constituency that probably is going to fight her. You know that many of them are saying over crab salad and mint-juleps at The Ivy? “You know they just won’t be satisfied. We made a Black person the president of our organization. What more do they want?”
And why does this issue even matter? Why should we care about some Hollywood award show when we have so many issues in the Black community. Well, I am the first to say that this issue certainly shouldn’t be at the top of our list of things to worry about, but it’s an issue of inequality and we have the opportunity to do something about it. When actors win awards they make more money, they are typically invited to participate in more films, there are more scripts being written for them/for us. We get to see stories that are representative of the population. Our kids get to see superheroes that look like them; doctors who look like them; teachers who look like them. They get to see award shows and think that they can be apart of that magical world if they so choose. And why should any door be closed to us? Why shouldn’t we demand entrance to make the same money, have the same opportunities and dream as big a dream as White people?
So, what are Black folks to do? Jada Pinkett says we should boycott. Let’s just get a few things said, so we can get to the real issues:
- Jada needs to understand that Will definitely did not deserve to be nominated for an Oscar. Just as we are attracted to people who are similar to us; we think more highly of people whom we are sleeping with. She needs to understand that she has on fuzzy-fuck-googles and isn’t able to be impartial.
- Jada and Will are doing an OJ on us. OJ didn’t mess with Black people for decades; but then when his ass got in trouble, he became down all of a sudden. Jada and Will are all into their Scientology, Tom Cruise, “it’s cool for my kids to do whatever the hell they want”, Hollywood machine World. Now that they done drop-squadded their organic asses and said, “you a good-ni**a, you our favorite ni**a, but you still a ni**a” they want to be militant—starting boycotts and such. Have we heard from them about ANY Black issue in 20 years? Do they attend our award shows? Do they even roll with the rest of Black Hollywood — like are they having spades parties at their mansion?
- Have either of them promoted, helped out, or given a hand to anybody Black (besides their own son)? Do they wear Black designers, hire Black actors to work in their production company? Have they used their fame to in any way improve the Black situation in Hollywood or did it not matter to them until they realized that they had never escaped the Black situation in Hollywood?
Despite all of their non-blackery, I believe that perhaps boycotting the Oscars isn’t a bad idea. If you think about it—the Academy has really already boycotted our Black asses anyway, by shutting us out of ANY possibility of winning anything.
If actors boycott though, we will have to boycott with them. Most won’t care if the 5 Black people (out of 1000) who were supposed to attend don’t show up. But they will care if we don’t show up at the box office for movie houses who don’t hire our people. We represent 35% of the movie-going public. Stop. Money is the clearest language. It is universally understood.
I am split on if Chris Rock should boycott the show, however. If anyone can handle this situation, make a point and maybe even make an impression—it’s Chris Rock. Perhaps he needs to be there as our spokesperson. Perhaps, he needs to say for us, “We just want to be seen. We just want to be celebrated….too.”