Jan. 20, 2016

Oscar Drama

Ok.  So, have I mentioned before that I have spent the last ten years of my professional life serving as my company’s GM, of Diversity and CSR.  No?  Well, I have.  In that capacity, I am always on the lookout for issues of race, gender, inclusion and discrimination that make their way into the pop culture conversation.  Over the past couple of years, it seems to happen quite often and I have noticed a very disturbing trend.

You may remember a year or two ago when a professional football player likened being employed in the NFL to slavery.  Now, I am no history buff, but I am quite sure that there were no slaves vying for million dollar contracts to be the best cotton picker on the plantation.  Seriously?  Bruh.  You make millions of dollars!  Shhh.

There have also been several instances where (insert celebrity) was fired or disavowed because he or she said they didn’t like black people, or may have used the “N” word, or called some girl “nappy –headed”  While I get that all of these things are stupid and seem archaic for our time, I just don’t get the outrage.  It is almost as if we have reduced racism in America to name calling.

All the while, there are young Black and Latino men living in fear for their lives because the police have decided at least six bullets in the back are required to stop them.  They have to walk through this world with a circumspection that young white men will never know because someone who is afraid of the color of their skin might feel “threatened” and stand their ground by ending the “prone to violence” young man’s life.

Which brings me to the point of this post.  The latest “outrage” as we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday this week, is the absence of black actors nominated for the Academy Awards.  Do I think this is shameful?  Yes.  Do I think it speaks to an academy that is outdated and tone-deaf?  Absolutely.  Do I think it is an outrage?  No.  Just.  No.

Every day in this country college educated black people are consistently unemployed, underemployed and underpaid because of some hiring managers’ unconscious (or in some cases fully conscious) bias.  And let’s not get started on the plight of gay or lesbian people who can still be fired in many states for no other reason than their employer doesn’t agree with their sexual orientation.  Or, the psychological damage being done to young women because men continue to see them as sex objects instead of complete human beings capable of living any life they can imagine.

So you will have to excuse me if I can’t get upset about a bunch of privileged holly wood actors who got their feelings hurt because they have been excluded from something.  Welcome to the real world.  Except in the real world, we don’t cry designer tears, just regular old salty ones.