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Here We Go Again! No Oscars for People of Color

February 12, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry

For the past two years, no African American man or woman has been nominated for an Oscar. It has generated criticism from many quarters. The Rev. Al Sharpton, in his inimitable phraseology, said, “Hollywood is like the Rocky Mountains. The higher you go, the whiter it gets.” He has called for a black-out of the television program on February 28,2016.

Whoopi Goldberg said she will continue complaining, or to use her expression “B-t-hing,” but she will protest the protesting of the Oscars. So, what else is new? Even white actors and actresses have denounced the denial of Oscars, too. George Clooney said Hollywood was doing better ten years ago; it is going backwards on race.

Can you believe that Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the President of the Academy, and she is Black? She vowed that changes will be made. The membership of 6,000+ members of the Academy is held in secrecy. However, the Los Angeles Times, in a 2012 study, found that its members were nearly 94% white and 74% male.

Well, I will add my voice to the protest as I have been doing in one form or another against discrimination, exploitation, bigotry, racism, etc. for almost 60 years. In the back of my mind, as I grow older, and as some of our people become richer, I do wonder, “Is there another way, or is there something else we should be doing?” I don’t mean stop protesting. Never! But, if it’s all we do, if protests don’t lead to possession or ownership of something, as I used to say when I chaired the Black United Front (BUF), eventually frustration will overtake us.

I wonder if our rich artists, entrepreneurs, athletes, financiers, and corporate leaders, etc. ever thought of buying the businesses or corporations which are engaged in discriminating against us. Surely, there is enough money among us. There is a market to sell our products, whether they are apples, movies, newspapers, television stations, etc. If the wealthy would pool a portion of their vast fortunes, they could buy Hollywood or create their own Hollywood?

Similarly, in the sports world, we once protested discrimination against Blacks in baseball. Whites created a league and called it the Major Leagues. They called their competition, “The World Series,” while denying other races the opportunity to participate. How could they call their League, “The Major Leagues,” and their competitions, “The World Series,” while excluding others? This peculiarity is seen not only in baseball but also other aspects of life. For example, it is said that Christopher Columbus discovered America when humans were here, or had been here for thousands of years. The only thing Columbus discovered was that he was lost. Time and space does not permit a psychological explanation.

The Negro League, which I am told, was doing just fine until Jackie Robinson broke the color barriers and others followed him into the so-called Major Leagues instead of maintaining their own league and demanding that it be accepted as a League similar to the merger or arrangement made by the National Football League, to the upstart American Football Conference. The leaders of the National Football League saw that it was to their interests to work out an arrangement with the American Football League. Today, there’s the National Football League and the American Football League. Every year, representatives from the two leagues would play each other in what they call the Superbowl to determine the championship.

I have a deep concern for American basketball players. The owners travel the world to get players from foreign countries. While other nations have restrictions on foreign players, America has none. Increasingly, basketball players from foreign countries are seen on the courts. Black and white American players now have to compete against the world for the few jobs which are available on the teams. I am concerned that one day soon there will be more foreign players than Americans. The door will be shut to young Black men and women who have found avenues of success, fame, and fortune. Even our communities will not receive the benefit from the players – many of whom do make contributions to the community while foreign players will take their checks back to their countries. America ought to imitate other countries, and put a quote on foreign players.

Again, why don’t they, the rich among us, purchase these teams. I know some efforts have being made. Michael Jordan purchased the Charlotte Hornets. Isaiah Thomas is trying to buy part of the New York Liberty, but white women have been attempting to prevent the purchase.

It seems that the best we can do is to be the biggest slave on the plantation. To the best of my knowledge, apparently, we do not think of pooling our resources, building corporations, and buying plantations. It seems that we are still deriving great pleasure in being the richest Black or the only Black in a particular enterprise.

I do not know of one major Black collaboration that has been convened to own or control a certain market. God has richly blessed us with talents, creative genius, super intelligence, money, resources, etc. I once heard that our spending power is equivalent to the ninth nation in the world.

No, not only do we not collaborate to control a particular market, but even when we individually achieve success, there are always those around to buy it from us, and we seem too eager to sell, i.e. BET, Essence Magazine, etc. (Essence was a collaborative effort of four African Americans, but they were not the super-rich. They really created Essence with meager resources and super creativity). There is a reason why others buy these enterprises.

I am reluctant to use other people as an example, but I feel compelled to do so to make my point. My Jewish friends told me that there was a time when they were denied services at a certain hospital in New York. So, they got together and bought the hospital. There was a time when there was discrimination against Jews in the Catskill Mountains. They bought much of the land there. Now, the Jewish presence permeates the area.

I have three more reasons why I am not excited about the protest against the Oscars:

-Most of the films which come out of Hollywood are not worth seeing. Or, they create and/or fan the flame of sex and violence, etc.

-Black actors and actresses will emulate the amoral or negative behavior on and off the screen that we are told is pervasive in Hollywood. Halle Berry won an Oscar, but she had to take off her clothes.

-When Black actors and actresses achieve success, our communities receive little or nothing.

Yes, I will join the protestors, but hopefully some day, and I hope it’s in my lifetime, we will develop, cultivate, and combine our resources, skills, and genius in some collaborative effort and start gaining ownership of some of these enterprises – NOT AS AN INDIVIDUAL, BUT AS A COLLECTIVE. We will be doing the hiring and the firing, and the promotion and the demotion, if necessary.

We will be able to create a better future for our children. We will stand before the world, not as individual superstars, but as a people competing for equal ownership of God’s earth and competing for the markets of the world. I believe that w hen that day comes, we will be more equitable, compassionate, and sensitive to others than they have been to us.