Is #OscarsSoWhite Right?

There’s been a CRAZY amount of conversation about Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee’s decision to boycott the Oscars due to the lack or recognition of people of color in Hollywood.  I support their decision and give them props for standing firm on something they obviously feel strongly about. Strangely, I haven’t seen many people with the same mindset, Black or White.  There are several arguments floating around but I thought I’d discuss the three that stand out most to me.

The first is one I’ve seen from a lot of different people that basically says there’s more important and far worse things going on (stating the obvious much?), so who  cares about an award ceremony? Stop boycotting and protest something legit.  No one said that we should all focus on the Oscars and stop caring about world hunger. It reminds of BLM and how some people say life is far harder for other people around the world so Blacks in America should quit complaining.  One injustice cannot devalue another. It may be the understatement of the year but, this is an imperfect world.  Its imperfect and too often unjust for MANY reasons.  Are we only supposed to focus on a few of them?  Jada and Spike Lee are a part of the entertainment field. This is THEIR industry so they should be the ones to spark that change. Who is going to fight for equal representation if not people like them?  We all should work within our own personal communities and circles to make changes for the better. It starts with small steps in small spaces and gradually the whole is improved. To me thats just common sense.

The next attack actually comes from Black people who say something to the effect of, “Stop whining about what White people won’t give you and create your own awards with your own standards!”….So, for anyone who may not get what they mean, this is basically how in the Black community we create things that caters to our culture and community and its nothing new.  Think of Soul Train Awards, BET, all Black casts, HBCU’s.  All of these are examples of things that were created for the Black community because something was lacking.  Now, I will admit that this is a very good point. We could make our own awards….BUT, bear with me here, something about that feels backwards to me, especially at a time where racial tensions seem to be rising in this country.  Do we really want to divide ourselves more? Is that a step backwards in the wrong direction?  There was certainly a need for us to create our own schools, films, shows and groups and in no way am I saying to do away with all of that.  Im just asking the question, In 2016, do we really need our own Oscars too? To me the best outcome wouldn’t be to have a predominantly White Oscars and a predominantly Black Oscars.  There should simply be one show that doesn’t exclude some but includes all.  However, I’m sure that’s a long time off and there are many factors involved…It has to start somewhere.

Lastly, I’ve heard comments like,”Who cares!? They’re still actors, they’re still famous and an award doesn’t always depict talent.”… Also true. However, to me the overall point of #OscarsSoWhite is that we need more representation of people of color and not just at award shows.  Of all the films watched that contribute to these nominations, how many Black actors were cast in comparison to White actors? Take it a step further, How many Asian? Native American?  The obvious issue is not just nominations, but there aren’t as many  actors of color to choose from because there aren’t that many actors of color in Hollywood period.  That’s how I see the fundamental problem.  It’s a lot harder to nominate Black actors/actresses if they just aren’t in these films. I don’t condemn Jada or Spike Lee for their actions but there is definitely room for them and others to do more.  Go after the studios who make the films as well, and as the general public we could take a stand by avoiding the theaters when diversity is lacking in popular films. There is a great deal of power in the American dollar.  There needs to be a collective effort by actors, viewers, and ticket buyers to force a real change.

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The Black Prayer

So, this was NOT WRITTEN BY ME. This poem was going around social media and I just thought it was so beautiful it was certainly worth sharing…

Why Did You Make Me Black Lord
Lord .. Why did you make me black?
Why did you make someone
the world would hold back?…
Black is the color of dirty clothes,
of grimy hands and feet……
Black is the color of darkness,
of tired beaten streets…

Why did you give me thick lips,
a broad nose and kinky hair?
Why did you create someone
who receives the hated stare?

Black is the color of the bruised eye
when someone gets hurt…
Black is the color of darkness,
black is the color of dirt.

Why is my bone structure so thick,
my hips and cheeks so high?
Why are my eyes brown,
and not the color of the sky?

Why do people think I’m useless?
How come I feel so used?
Why do people see my skin
and think I should be abused?
Lord, I just don’t understand…
What is it about my skin?
Why is it some people want to hate me
and not know the person within?

Black is what people are “Labeled”
when others want to keep them away…
Black is the color of shadows cast…
Black is the end of the day.

Lord you know my own people mistreat me,
and you know this just ain’t right…
They don’t like my hair, they don’t like my
skin, as they say I’m too dark or too light!

Lord, don’t you think
it’s time to make a change?
Why don’t you redo creation
and make everyone the same?

God’s Reply:

Why did I make you black? Why did I make you black?

I made you in the color of coal
from which beautiful diamonds are formed…
I made you in the color of oil,
the black gold which keeps people warm.

Your color is the same as the rich dark soil
that grows the food you need…
Your color is the same as the black stallion and
panther, Oh what majestic creatures indeed!

All colors of the heavenly rainbow
can be found throughout every nation…
When all these colors are blended,
you become my greatest creation!

Your hair is the texture of lamb’s wool,
such a beautiful creature is he…
I am the shepherd who watches them,
I will ALWAYS watch over thee!

You are the color of the midnight sky,
I put star glitter in your eyes…
There’s a beautiful smile hidden behind your pain…
That’s why your cheeks are so high!

You are the color of dark clouds
from the hurricanes I create in September…
I made your lips so full and thick,
so when you kiss…they will remember!

Your stature is strong,
your bone structure thick to withstand the
burden of time…
The reflection you see in the mirror,
that image that looks back, that is MINE!

So get off your knees,
look in the mirror and tell me what you see?
I didn’t make you in the image of darkness…
I made you in the image of ME!

by RuNett Nia-Ebo

this poem was inspired by Genesis1:26-27
written an unknown Artist..

Genesis 1:26 and 27
And GOD said, “Let Us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness. So GOD created man in His own image, male and female He created them.

Fav Song of the Week 1/5/2016

Ok, I don’t really listen to Demi Lovato like that (I put most Disney/Nickelodeon stars in my “Give it a rest/Nobody gives a crap” music file. #noshade) but I happened to hear this song off her new album and was very impressed. She’s always been a decent singer but most of her music seems to hide the unique qualities of her voice and her skilled and emotive singing.  I honestly wish she sang more songs like this but, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be her preferred style.  I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on her though!

 

Rejoice

This poem was written in 2008 right after I found out that President Obama had won the presidential election.  I was 18 and had just started attending an HBCU, Hampton University, and it was my first time voting.  I’ll never forget that moment the announcement was made and how the street in front of my dorm building filled with Black students in celebration that their president was Black, that feeling that something historical and incredibly monumental had been achieved.  Every once in a while, I come across this poem and it always gives me a sense of pride and hope….Because thats exactly what I felt back then. I’d like to feel that way again right now. So, I thought I would post it here, a permanent reminder for myself and others that HOPE is always right there.

Lift every voice and sing,
Lift every voice… and sing.
I never understood the meaning of those words until tonight.
You see those words signify that we won the fight.
It means that when I feel my heart wrench and tears swell up in my eyes, that for the first time it’s out of joy and not despair.
The joy in the knowledge that we’ve won the fight.
The joy in the knowledge that when the young black people came running by the hundreds chanting and screaming, OBAMA! OBAMA! That they weren’t just screaming for Barack but for every one of us.
For every African princess torn from her homeland,
For every child born a slave not knowing their worth,
For every man who fought for his freedom and that 40 acres and a mule,
For every grandparent who marched beside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
For every Black boy who followed the wrong path believing he could do no better…
Our rejoicing is for you…And I cry, I cry.
I cry for how far we’ve come, out of the depths of oppression.
I cry for what we are, a people who cannot be chained down.
I cry for where we will go, into a world of equality…
A world where Black, White, Purple, Blue all come together and are one,
and I cry…
I cry, I scream, I shout, I stomp…
I lift my hands to the heavens and I rejoice,
I rejoice that my children will open their books and see a black face amongst endless clouds of white,
I rejoice that we have received the proof that our people have overcome, and will overcome every obstacle in our paths,
I rejoice,
as I lift my voice,
and I sing,
until the Earths and the Heavens ring…
FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST,
THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, WE ARE FREE AT LAST!

-Risa Llanah