It seems as though “race” is the alpha and the omega of every discussion in America. Lets start with the most pampered group of people in the world in the most pampered and “anointed” group of people – actors. Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith each announced that they would not be attending the Feb. 28 ceremony. The following quote:
“In a lengthy Instagram post, Lee said he “cannot support” the “lily white” Oscars. Noting that he was writing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Lee — who in November was given an honorary Oscar at the Governors Awards — said he was fed up: “Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all,” he wrote. “We can’t act?!””
“Flava”, in other words equals “non-whites”. Further, in his Governors Awards speech, Lee said “It’s easier to be the president of the United States as a black person than be the head of a studio.”
As for Jada Pinkett, “In a video message on Facebook, Pinkett Smith, whose husband Will Smith wasn’t nominated for his performance in the NFL head trauma drama “Concussion,” said it was time for people of color to disregard the Academy Awards.” Read more at: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2016/01/19/calls-for-boycott-academy-awards-are-growing-over-oscars-second-straight-year/
The first thing that I am going to say here is that Spike Lee’s movie Set in Chicago, Chi-Raq , was in a word, awful, no two words “terribly awful”. The film is a comedy that touches on the depiction of violence on Chicago’s South side. It is based on Aristophanes‘ Lysistrata, a Classical Greek comedy play in which women withhold physical affection from their husbands as punishment for fighting in the Peloponnesian War. As with most of Spike Lee’s films it was controversial , one critique of the film was a rejection of the subject matter. In an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune by emergency physician Amy Ho, who argued that Chicago deaths occurring nightly in local hospitals were used for the purpose of entertainment. Truthfully, I don’t enjoy Spike Lee films, never have. I have tried but even in the interviews he always seems resentful, abusive, sullen and foul. That is his right, of course, but I don’t have to like it, just because I am Black.
“The term “Chi-Raq” is a portmanteau of “Chicago” and “Iraq“, as well as an endonym commonly used by South Side residents to liken the area to a war zone due to its extremely high crime rates. City residents and City Council members requested that Lee change the name of the film, and threatened to withhold tax credits that the filmmaker would receive from the city. Lee later called Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel a “bully” and several Chicago aldermen “bootlickers” for their criticisms. Read more at: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/December-2015/Spike-Lee-Chiraq/
“Concussion is a 2015 American biographical sports medical drama film directed and written by Peter Landesman, based on the 2009 GQ exposé Game Brain by Jeanne Marie Laskas, and starring Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian forensic pathologist who fought against efforts by the National Football League to suppress his research on the brain damage suffered by professional football players. The film also stars Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Albert Brooks. Columbia Pictures released the film on December 25, 2015.” Wikipedia
The film was not “awful”, but that does not make it worthy of an award. It was a compelling drama. I saw it on Christmas day with my family and friends. It was a bit long and the accent Will Smith perfected, while authentic sounding, was tiring to listen to for the length of the film. It was long. It was wordy. My daughter, her friend and my cousin fell into a sound sleep for portions in the middle.
So, what happens when the films produced by and acted in by people of color are not “up to snuff”…… do we award these less than great cinematic attempts “awards” or “trophies” so that we can see some “flava”? Ummm no. Let’s take for example the NBA in 2015, which was composed of 74.4 percent black players, 23.3 percent white players, 1.8 percent Latinos, and 0.2 percent Asian. The league has the highest percentage of black players of any major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_ethnicity_in_the_NBA#cite_note-
So, using the logic of “inclusion”, it is patently UNFAIR that 74.4 percent of the NBA should be “white”. Good player or bad, the NBA should have at its goal to recruit as many tall Caucasian men, Latino men, and Asian men as they can in order to make sure that people of ALL races would be able to play regardless of their ethnicity. In other words, no more than 25% based upon the breakdown of race can be of ANY race. It will probably become a bit more dicey when other races, ethnicities and religions petition for their “set aside” — you know Native Americans, Indians from East Asia, Bi-Racial people, Jews, etc.
Eventually, using the logic of “inclusion” each person on a team will have only one characteristic “tall” but …… that will be subjective because a “tall” African American or Caucasian might not be attainable by the average say, Korean player or a member of the pygmy groups of Papua, New Guinea. I don’t know that there are that many Koreans who are 7 feet tall to go around. But then again, to be inclusive you will not be able to discriminate by height. So you might end up with a short NBA team if you don’t get 1st or second round in the draft process.
Further, to be inclusive, you must never discriminate by talent or ability and especially the product “put out”. So then “everyone can play in the NBA”, as long as you show up. Because as long as you are represented …. it should not matter whether or not you can handle the ball, play or even have the stamina….. you too, will get to be an NBA star.
Doesn’t that sound great!?!
Isn’t that the logic behind the request to boycott the Oscars? Does not sound too fair, does it? The truth of the matter is this, we all feel that when we work hard, the product of our labor is the best of the best, just as we believe that our baby might be the prettiest of the pretty, and sometimes…… it just ain’t so. Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett, and Will Smith are not laboring in the hot sun all day long so that they “don’t never get no love” for the stuff they produce. Just because you are the “only” “flava” production this year should NOT warrant a trophy.
In 2016 we still have lots of entertainment venues, contests, schools and so forth that are “all Black” — Why? BET awards, Soul Train Awards are for and by BLACK people. The new show is the most black-centric racist thing I have seen since BET, Black Starz, the Black Entertainment Awards. Why is this okay while things about only white people are exclusionary and “racist”? And awards shows that don’t happen to have a “black” winner this year are deemed to be “racist”?
Also, I might add, some of the negative images lovingly portrayed on “Black” television enforce the nastiest, lousiest images that you can imagine. I remember watching, aghast and in horror, the “short lived” television show of a radio personality where he had middle aged to elderly Blacks dancing like crazy on the stage and one woman showing how she could make her “butt clap”. Some of these images on these “exclusive” stations are some the most harmful things I saw in my community. It can take a young, impressionable mind, and fill it with images & egregores that will 9 times out of 10 lead to that individuals self destruction. Blacks don’t need any more negative stereotypes promoted in their own name. We don’t need more shows about urban struggles, living in the hood, rapping, hoop dreams, or drama with cops. This just makes it easier for other people look at it and assume that that’s what all blacks must be about—-therefore perpetuating racial division.
But I digress. The point here is, maybe it is not about race but rather the content of the body of work produced. maybe it just might be time to work harder, collaborate and become a bit more objective. IF your goal is “equality”, it might be helpful to strive to produce something “equally good” to what is presently the best…… and just not the best in a particular lane. Its time we ALL became members of one race – the human race.