#OscarSoWhite Should Concern You, America

When I first heard of the call to boycott the Oscars by Spike Lee and #OscarSoWhite because of the lack of diversity in nominations for the second year in a row. I’ll be honest with you, my attitude was, “Meh.” At the time, I felt that my apathy was justified. After all, it’s not like I’ve watched the Academy Award ceremony in years, nor have I cared to. And trust me when I tell you, my attitude had nothing to do with the lack of diversity. It was simply just one of those things, that as you age, you reserve what little fucks you have left, for other things. Fortunately for you, all of this changed a few days ago when my eight-year-old daughter asked me a couple of questions.

After school one day, she asked, “Dad, there are only a few black teachers at my school. Why is that?” Now, at her age, like many kids, she’s quite perceptive. Instead of a rant about of the lack of black teachers at her suburban elementary school, I decided to ask, “Well, how does this make you feel?”

Much to my astonishment, she replied by saying, “It makes me feel like black people aren’t important. It makes me feel like I’m not important.” She continued with the most pitiful look on her face, “It makes me feel like black people aren’t good enough.”

Her concern was genuine. At that moment, I wondered if there were any other eight-year-old black children in America with similar concerns. After all, her question about the lack of black teachers came after asking me how come there was only one black kid on the show “Rugrats” only a few weeks prior. Heck, if a kid her age can see and take issue with the lack of diversity, I wonder how many white kids her age had similar questions.

Hollywood, and by extension the Academy Awards reflects larger society. And to be honest, the lack of diversity in the motion picture industry isn’t new

For me, this is why the #OscarSoWhite backlash to the Academy Awards is of importance. Hollywood, and by extension the Academy Awards reflects larger society. And to be honest, the lack of diversity in the motion picture industry isn’t new. Black actors aren’t barred from accepting an Oscar live on stage like Hattie McDaniel – the first black person to win an Oscar – was forced to do. No, we’re well beyond that; and, black people are hosting the Academy Awards these days. So yes, there has been progress; but, if we’re to tell the truth: it hasn’t been enough.

In my view, while the call for more diversity in is a good thing, it is the unintended consequences that scare the shit out of me.Yes, I’m all for more people of color being nominated for Oscars. However, don’t be surprised when “Madea”, “Big Momma’s House Pt. 7”, or “Empire: The Movie” gets nominated and wins an “Oscar” or two.

Real talk: We’re better than that type of coonery.

The measure of diversity in Hollywood and the motion picture industry isn’t two years of anyone Black being nominated for an Oscar. It’s in Hollywood thinking that all we wanna see is Ice Cube and Kevin Hart pretending to be police and not shooting a single unarmed white person while we laugh.

We’re better than that, folks. And no, we don’t have to have a movie about slavery, Jim Crow, or the struggle to be relevant. No, that’s that hipster white folks shit. That’s that, “I saw ’12 Years A Slave’ so I now understand you people better,” bullshit. Which is ironic, because, when you think about the shit-fit “certain people” online displayed over a few black characters in the latest Star Wars movie. For them, having a black Storm Trooper was tantamount to the promotion of “white genocide.

oscarsowhite-hollywood_660xThe diversity in Hollywood issue in the context of race isn’t as binary as black and white. I’m sure other people of color feel the same way. I’m sure that they also would like to see more movies with people who look like them. Or, maybe even actors who look like them being nominated for roles.

But, of course, nobody wants to talk about it. Why? Because, for some, it’s uncomfortable. Which, as you know, it’s easier to pretend that the lack of diversity in Hollywood doesn’t exist. Look, when Forrest Whitaker and Loretta Divine are both leads in a movie that has nothing to do with slavery, where they have a real love scene, then and only then it can be said that the problem is fixed. Yes, call me when Hollywood isn’t so white that two overweight black actors (or, maybe even a transgender actor?) can be celebrated for their hard work among their peers.

My second-oldest daughter graduates from Clark Atlanta University in May, and she’s looking forward to a career in film. She’s currently doing an internship with a company producing a documentary for HBO. If her eight-year-old little sister notices that the lack of diversity is problematic. I could only hope that Hollywood wakes up to this reality. Hopefully, by doing so it makes it easier for kids like her to get a foot in the door to do great things.

I could only hope that she doesn’t become discouraged.

Yes, it’s up to you, White America.