So here’s an analogy to explain my two cents about #OscarsSoWhite and the whole boycott thing … if a candy dispenser has 90 red jellybeans and 10 yellow jellybeans, are you really going to be surprised if the first 20 jellybeans you get are red? Are you going to get mad at the candy dispenser and stop using it, even though you reeeeaaally want some jellybeans? Probably not, right? Wouldn’t it make more sense to refill the dispenser with jellybeans of all different types, that way you’d be almost guaranteed to get a colorful mixture?
If you can’t tell, my point is that the boycott of the Oscars is kinda meaningless, because it’s merely a consequence of the problem, not the problem itself. (Actually, I see two major problems, but I’ll get to that in a minute.) The first problem, which many people more eloquent than I have spoken about, is that there just aren’t enough movies directed by/produced by/starring people who aren’t White and heterosexual. Viola Davis hit the nail on the head when she said, “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” For an Oscar nominee to say “You can never know if it’s truly the case, but maybe black actors did not deserve to make the final stretch” (I’m looking at you, Charlotte Rampling) ignores the fact that hundreds of movies were made that starred White people, while there were apparently so few movies that featured an all-Black cast that Straight Outta Compton is the only example that people could come up with to show that brown people aren’t getting recognition. So what’s more likely – that Black actors weren’t deserving of nominations, or that there weren’t enough roles available to them that were nomination-worthy?
The second problem is that the people in power only seem okay with recognizing Black actors/actresses when they fall into one of the following categories:
- Bad guy: Denzel Washington almost always plays the hero, but the ONE TIME he won an Oscar for best actor was when he was a crooked cop (in Training Day)
- Poor: Halle Berry is one of the world’s most beautiful and talented people, yet her Oscar for best actress was for portraying a single mother whose husband was a criminal (in Monster’s Ball)
- Being saved by white people: I really enjoyed The Help, but there HAVE to be more stories about Black women that don’t involve them being maids
This happens because people gravitate toward things that affirm the views they already hold (whether consciously or unconsciously). As a result, someone like Michael B. Jordan doesn’t get nominated for his starring role in Creed, likely because the character didn’t struggle with anything that had to do with being Black, and therefore doesn’t match up with the ideas that many individuals have regarding Black people. Meanwhile, Sylvester Stallone gets nominated for – you guessed it – helping out the Black kid.
All that being said, the only solution I see is for all of us to ignore Stacey Dash and keep sharing our stories in whatever venue we can, with anyone who will listen, because we have to fill that candy dispenser with things we actually want to eat and not accept the lie that there is no other type of candy worth liking.