|Images of the all-white 2015 Academy Awards winners.|
By now it seems everyone and his or her grandpapa has been talking about this all white Oscar situation. Y’all were probably wondering why I had not written a blog on it yet, since I live for pop culture. The truth is while everyone was outraged, I was trying to figure out how much is too much for a Valentine’s Day dress. I did not comment on the so white Oscars because I was SO not surprised; to be honest no one should be surprised. The academy; which is the group of people that choose the films nominated for the year is filled with old white men. Also despite the fact that there were good movies this year with black actors such as Straight Outta Compton and Beast of No Nation, none of them were about slavery. And we all know white people only like black actors when they are being subordinate or stereotypical. In the words of Queen Nicki Minaj, “Thought you knew better, do your fucking research.” With all of this said I was going to let the conversation of this all white Oscars die out, but Jada Pinkett-Smith made a comment on it, than blacktress Janet Hubert, and also the still clueless Stacy Dash, Viola Davis, and later Gabrielle Union. The tea just continued to spill over with every waking hour, and I could not let all that spilling of tea go unaddressed. At this moment I did what any great blogger would do;I forwent all of my responsibilities to analyze this intense tea and give to you just like it is.
Jada Pinkett-Smith and The Fresh Queen of Petty Set it off
|Janet Hubert (left) responds to Jada Pinkett-Smith (right).|
Let’s start from the beginning, a couple days after the #OscarSoWhite announcement, Jada Pinkett-Smith posted a video where she urged black people to recognize the amount of power they have. Smith said, “Is it time that people of color have amassed enough power that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere and no longer beg for the love, acknowledgement or respect of any group?” She also stated that it was time for black people to take back their resources and feed them into their communities and programs, which would acknowledge their work. Smith ended her video by explaining she will neither be attending nor watching the Oscars but she wished Chris Rock, the host this year, nothing but love. The video seemed very well-intentioned, and I do not believe Jada was asking other black actresses/actors to boycott the event; she was just announcing that she herself was not going.
Blacktress Janet Hubert, the darker Aunt Viv, was not here for Smith’s video and decided she would make a response video, where she dragged Mrs. Smith by her edges. Hubert called out Smith for devoting her time on the Oscars, “...when our boys are dying and people are starving.” Hubert also accused Smith for being a hypocrite because she is now boycotting the same group of people that have helped her and her family make millions of dollars. “Just because the world didn’t go the way you wanted it to does not mean you can ask people to stand up and sing we should overcome for you… You have a huge production company in Hollywood where you only produce your friends, family and yourself, so you are a part of Hollywood and you are a part of the system.”
Along Came an Airhead
The ever-clueless Stacey Dash chimed in, saying boycotting the Oscars was ludicrous. Dash stated that black people either want segregation or integration. Integration to her would be getting rid of awards such as BET and NAACP Image “where you’re only nominated/awarded if you are black.” Dash also said that if it were the other way around, meaning only white award shows nominating only white people, everyone would be outraged. However it is the other way around. That’s why people are upset because they only see white people win awards. Dash claimed there should be no BET channel or Black History month because at the end of the day we are all Americans.
Before we move any further, Stacey Dash is literally a buffoon and confused. We should all take Gabriella Union’s advice and completely ignore her existence. Secondly, awards such as the BET and Image awards exist because black people do not see their work appreciated in the “mainstream” and acclaimed white award shows. These awards do not create segregation because as we can see from the previous Oscars and also this nation’s history, segregation already exists. Without channels such as BET and Centric, black bodies would not have been able to see themselves in media. There is still a need for these networks and for magazines that center blackness because blackness in media is still rare. Nothing has really changed, so please stop perpetuating this distorted reality where blackness, black history, black art and bodies are appreciated enough that we should abandon outlets that support and uplift us. Lastly, the belief that only black people are nominated for either the BET awards or the NAACP Image awards is false. Throughout the years there have been white nominees for both award shows.
Addressing the Real Issues and Caring about All Black Lives
People in media including the gossip of all time, Wendy Williams, believed that Hubert was just being Petty LaBelle. Despite how petty it may have seemed, Hubert’s response video made valid points. Smith was not speaking out last year about the all white Oscars, and prior to this video she has not mentioned the lack of black actors/ movies in Hollywood. Smith does not go to many BET or Image awards, where black musicians and actors are acknowledged for their outstanding work. Jada Pinkett-Smith does attend and speak about Black Girls Rock, which promotes spreading positivity about young girls’ blackness. However, I have not heard Jada speak out about police brutality or the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. It is convenient how she has been able to center her race at this point because her husband was not recognized by the Academy. Why does she not center her blackness in other conversations where she can use her voice to shed light on situations already occurring in the black community? Her and her husband own a production company; why are they not using that to make films centered around multifaceted black narratives and starring new black actors? Situations that are a little more pressing than an Oscar. I am not saying the Academy has not messed up, because they definitely did and have been for almost forever. Yet, if we are being honest there are only like three black movies that come out every year, so there is not a lot to nominate. Also if we are keeping it like 115, Will Smith shouldn’t have been nominated because that accent was trash. The Straight Outta Compton actors, yes, Michael B Jordan in Creed, yes, Idris Elba in Beast of No Nation; yes!!!, the bear from The Revenant, yes, Will Smith for Concussion, NO!
On the flip side, representation does matter. Devaluing the work of black bodies even if they live in Hollywood is not okay. The question we must ask ourselves when these situations occur is how would the conversation be different if the people were white. Everyone was eating out of Patricia Arquette’s hands when she went on stage last year and demanded the universe had to help her obtain more money, even though she makes millions of dollars. People were fine when Jennifer Lawrence wrote an essay about pay equality. Why is it a problem when black bodies ask why they are not nominated? Why is it automatically perceived as a complaint instead of a genuine concern that should be evaluated? If I’m not mistaken this the third year in a row that we have seen an all white Oscars, instead of 98 percent white Oscars. Why are white actors/actresses who claim to be feminist and activist not speaking out against this? Actors/Actresses should be speaking about the lack of diversity in Hollywood constantly, not just when the Oscars come up. Actresses/ Actors should be critical about the mostly white academy always, not just when the Oscars come up. Black Actresses/Actors should appreciate the value of awards such as BET and the Image awards all the time, not just when white America has rejected them. If black Actresses/Actors are going to care and about their own, they need to always care about their own all the time, not just when they experience inequality in their privileged lives. Caring about black lives is caring about them all the time in every situation. From Flint, Michigan to Baltimore, Maryland; from Ferguson, Missouri to Cleveland, Ohio; From Sanford, Florida to Staten Island, New York. Not just in Hollywood when the Oscars come around.
On that note that is all the tea I have the week. I know this blog was longer than usual but there was so much confusion that needed to be addressed. I hope you all keep your edges in tact in every situation, and never let the man play you, and that you are always blessed.
P.S. If you are looking to watch a film produced by a black person that is not about slavery check out AmeriCan. AmeriCan is a short film on YouTube, which gives viewers a new lens on police brutality. The film is directed by Nat Parker, who is also the star and director of the new film, The Birth of a Nation.This is the new birth of a nation about Nat Turner and not the old KKK one.
- Ashleandra Opoku '17, Multicultural & LGBTQ Affairs Intern