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#OscarsSoWhite #SoMuchMissedOpportunity

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I thought about writing or not writing a post about the Oscars, the boycott, etc.  To possibly offend or to not offend.  To not post would be giving into fear and the current societal pressure of ‘everything’s okay, and alright, don’t rock the boat, everyone gets a trophy,’ hmmm, apparently not.*Note* Awarding every child, win/lose a trophy in a sport is not helping them.  It teaches them, that they do not have to work hard, just show up and whatever you do or don’t do, is enough for an award.  But when someone works hard, and their performance is impacting, and if there are awards for it, give it.

An opposing argument I’ve heard to the #OscarsSoWhite is that black athletes outnumber white athletes in the NBA and NFL, and no one’s crying about that.  I find that argument laughable, being hired by the NFL and NBA is based on performance, results, & statistics.  And no one’s crying, we’re speaking out.  You have to admire the use of the word ‘crying,’ it implies what we’re saying is just noise, and is without substance. The fact that they’re only seeing black and white, further lets me know they’re blind to the issues.  I’m sure there are several Asian, Indian, Hispanic, Native American, physically disabled, etc., artists that would like acknowledgement and the opportunity to work too.

Art is subjective, it evokes feelings, promotes change, reflects, speaks to everyone differently, etc.  Unless we’re looking at box office numbers, in which case we’re looking at something else.  We’re looking at money and risk, and it seems the more someone has to lose, the less willing they are to take a risk.

Vincent Van Gogh died 5 months after selling his first painting for the equivalent of $78 today, and now his art sells for $670,000,000 plus.  All art isn’t recognized or valued appropriately or timely.  Sometimes it takes people a moment to grasp it, and for art to sink in.

Recently, like last night, I watched, “Straight Outta Compton,” and I felt compelled.

A clear moment of inequality has risen to the surface, and at to whose detriment?  Having a narrow view of art hurts everyone.  This is everyone’s world, and the stories that are artistically great, should be acknowledged for that greatness, not because of the skin color of the cast, director, writer, sound mixer, etc., but for the level of artistry, impact, and necessity of it being told.

When this #OscarsSoWhite began, I thought, all people have a predisposition to subconscious racism.  I still stand by that, and I also believe if you have taken the job to judge films, you have taken the responsibility to put yourself aside.

How the academy viewed “Straight Outta Compton,” and did not see a candidate worthy of nomination is beyond me.  Jason Mitchell, who played Eazy-E, was exceptional!  I do not know how anyone could watch this film and not feel their pain, or not be spellbound by their story.  If one can deny this story, I would question one’s humanity.  Not every story is going to look like you, or me, but what human story is outside our humanity?  Perhaps the rapper, Eazy-E, isn’t considered to be a person worthy enough in our history to honor with biographical portrayal?  Rap never has gotten a positive view in the media…moving along…

I held my breath practically the entire time when watching, “Argo,” I loved the movie!  And now years later, I find out the role played by Ben Affleck, was a Latino man, in real life.  I was floored and disappointed at how replaceable historical facts are, and if race is not important and so easily interchangeable, then I wonder how racism could even exist?

Now, it doesn’t bother me, when a Native American, who could pass for Hispanic, plays Hispanic in a film.  Or if a Japanese person, plays a historically famous Vietnamese person.  Am I splitting hairs?  This is art, it’s a reflection, and the reflection is filled in with the story and what we see, not what he/she bubbles in for ethnicity on government forms.  It’ll be up to the artist to transcend culture, ethnicity, class, etc.

Now do the Oscars even matter?  It’s other people’s opinions and metal, not validation.  Storytellers want to tell great stories that challenge, implore, convict, refresh, and move you to action.  Storytellers and their stories acknowledged on an Academy Award level, gain more attention and attraction, enabling them to make more impact.  And if, we’re going to give credit, lets give credit, where’s it’s due.  Level the playing field.

When I think about history, there are people who were silent and idle during revolutions.  I think about them, and judge them.  How could they not see what was happening?  How could they not know?  They chose not to listen, they were stubborn, and some were in denial.

“There are consequences to your beliefs.” – Diana Castle

“When Rip Van Winkle went up into the mountain, the sign had a picture of King George the Third of England. When he came down twenty years later the sign had a picture of George Washington, the first president of the United States. When Rip Van Winkle looked up at the picture of George Washington—and looking at the picture he was amazed—he was completely lost. He knew not who he was.

And this reveals to us that the most striking thing about the story of Rip Van Winkle is not merely that Rip slept twenty years, but that he slept through a revolution. While he was peacefully snoring up in the mountain a revolution was taking place that at points would change the course of history—and Rip knew nothing about it. He was asleep. Yes, he slept through a revolution. And one of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change, and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses, that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution.” – Martin Luther King Jr. 

Nate Parker on his film, “Birth of a Nation,” …

“Anyone who sees this film should leave the theater and feel compelled to be a change factor with respect to relations that are taking place in this country,” Parker said. “But also, they should be proud to be an American. This country was built on rebellion. So when we talk about American heroes, people that fought against an oppressive force, I think that it’s a no-brainer that Nat Turner exists in that conversation.” – Nate Parker

So, when I win an Oscar, it’s not mine alone, it belongs to so many others who I know personally, people I’ve never met, and to all the brilliant artists that worked tirelessly, vigorously, and unrelenting that were overlooked or not given the opportunity due to their skin color and/or gender, or because the “timing,” wasn’t right.  We like to think we’re independent of one another, but we’re really integrated.  The air we breathe, and the water we drink, and the quality of life we leave to other generations is all of our responsibility.  We all choose what to watch, what to read, what to share, what to be open to, etc.

And after all the discussions, opinions, and emotions, the most needed thing will be what a director calls, “action!”

“Art is the forefront of social change.”

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