Originally written on the 23rd day of February.
The Oscars were yesterday and as always it was eagerly anticipated with excitement. And as always, there was/is a controversy about the lack of diversity on the Oscars nominees and winners list. This has led to the hashtag #Oscarsowhite trending on twitter. This two minute video attempts to explain this lack of diversity
This article from the Huffington Post also addresses the problem of diversity.
What do I think?
It is always difficult to express a differing opinion where the issue of race is concerned, especially as a Black person. There is the overwhelming need to support all Black issues and not be seen as a traitor to one’s race. So if people think an action is racist, you do not, as a Black person, come and and say “well it’s not really racist is it?”
However regarding the Oscars, I personally do not feel the need to protest the lack of diversity. For one, it’s an award ceremony, not a human rights initiative or the diversity awards. It is not a protest about the lack of diversity in the government or about indiscriminate shooting of unarmed Blacks. I feel the same way about the #Oscarssowhite that I feel about people complaining about no Black people on the cover of fashion magazines, or in movies.
There are simply more white people.
According to Wikipedia, White Americans make up 77.7% of the American population and 13.2% are Black Americans. Just off this statistic alone, it is apparent that one race will always be more represented than the other. There are simply more white people in society. Even if we lived in an illusory world where racism and discrimination did not exist, there will still be more White people represented everywhere, simply going by the laws of probability.
People complain that there are few black actors recognised by the Academy, but how many black people are even present in big hollywood movies? Where are these nominees supposed to materialise from? Should every black protagonist/ black film receive an award just because of the rarity or to fulfil a quota?
Everyone is white. The directors, producers, writers, actors, editors and founders of most of these media. A white person writes a script, get together with white directors and producers and they hire a casting agency run by a white person who then casts white actors to the role. The movie is then reviewed by the Academy made up of mainly white people (men) and everyone is so shocked that the Oscars are so white.
It is normal for people with the same traits to cling together so it should not be shocking that white filmmakers cast white actors. We should do the same. It will be a pleasant surprise if a bunch of white people got together to make a movie that is not about slavery and put a bunch of black people as the main characters.
I honestly do not find this racist at all. In fact I think it is necessary for Black people and other minorities to do the same. To quote actor/comedian Chris Rock
“It’s big brother shit, and they ask because there aren’t that many black people to turn to. Who do you hire? Where’s the big black PR agency? Where are the big black agents? Where’s the big black film producer?”
As Chris also rightly states in his article, it is not just black people that are ignored, it’s everyone who is not white.Where are the Mexican nominees? The Asians? Just like Chris I also contend that it is not necessarily a bad thing, there is simply more of them and they are in control.
Instead of complaining about the lack of diversity, why don’t we create and control our own things? I have always believed that minority populations have to create their own media rather than depending on the majority population. What I want is for black people to be united and further our progress by creating things that we are proud of, rather than waiting on those who have created their own things to throw crumbs at us.
Note that I am not saying that there is no bias from the Academy, I am saying that it is unreasonable to just continue to complain.
God bless the child that’s got his own.
We need our own magazines, our own movies, our own award shows, our own fashion shows and more importantly we need to make them good, fantastic, bloody amazing. I say this because I have noticed that Black people do not take black “art” seriously. People will wear the most beautiful dresses and suits to the Oscars and Grammys and then wear cut off shorts to the Black Entertainment Television Awards. The big black artists never show up to the awards. How can we be taken seriously if we do not take ourselves seriously?
Let’s talk about fashion magazines for a bit. There are always complaints about a lack of black people on the cover. Have you ever opened up one of those magazines? Their content caters to their audience-white people. Vogue had an article titled “We are officially in the era of the big booty.”
As a black person, I thought uh what? We’ve been in the era of the big booty! It is not a new trend. But it is a new trend for them. The big booty, full lips, coily hair, wide noses that we are accustomed to is not reality for them. So of course it’s going to be headline news when everyone starts to have a big bottom.
There will never be equal representation in the media, especially not on the cover of the magazines. Should they draw up a roster and schedule in a black person for the cover of every other issue? I am more interested in promoting our own magazines and creating more that cater to our needs,more that we can relate to. There is no need to fight or complain, we have different needs and therefore we need our own voice.
I guess this is where I empathise with Malcolm X over Martin Luther King. My views are no where as drastic as Malcolm’s but I do believe we should have our own. It is so important! Let’s create our things. Call it arrogance or foolish pride, but I don’t like the idea of begging to be accepted by white people into white culture. If someone does not want you in their house, do you stand at their gate and weep till you are let in one at a time? No you go and beautify your own home. Let them beg to come in.
We need to support and build each other. We also need to create quality products because supporting someone just because they are black can be tiring. It is necessary to make movies about suffering and slavery but don’t let that be all we do. A lot of these black movies are nice to watch but aren’t really deserving of high honours. They have the same scripts and the roles are recycled among the same actors that have been acting the same roles since the nineties. Let’s stop limiting ourselves and break out of the church going family movies we make all the time. Let’s no limit to what we can do. Let’s be adventurous: sci-fi, horror, comedy, animation, drama, romance, action et cetera.
Of course this is all idealistic thinking. I know creating our own will be difficult to achieve, but difficulty is not impossibility. No one ever said it would be easy. Slow and steady, little by little, it can be done. One can only dream.
PS: There were so many good black tv shows in the 70s, 80s and even the 90s. What happened?