Where Were The People of Color?

Although I enjoyed the Oscars – what red-blooded American girl doesn’t appreciate the night of glitz and glam, it’s classic Americana – I had a nagging feeling throughout the show that I wasn’t able to place my finger on. 

James Franco and Anne Hathaway, while entertaining enough, weren’t half as good as a Billy Crystal or Alec Baldwin would have been…but that wasn’t it. 

I hadn’t seen any of the movies, so I really couldn’t pull for one over another…but that wasn’t it.

It wasn’t until half way through the show that I realized the severe lack of color at the event.  With the exception of Oprah, Halle, Jennifer, and Penelope & Javier (I’m not counting Morgan Freeman’s cameo appearance in the opening video sequence), I was shocked at the color-less event. 

Sure, you might be able to name a few colorful faces that I left out, but even if you add those two or three people, the lack of representation at last night’s show was an embarrassment to an industry that has made leaps and bounds in including people of color.    

I know, I know, you could make the argument that no African American or Latino actors/actresses starred in a role that warranted an Oscar nomination – and although you might be right – I still say, why weren’t they there to celebrate the industry’s most important day?  Why weren’t they there to champion their peers? 

My guess is that it had to have been some sort of coordinated boycott of the show.  Perhaps Black and Latino actors and actresses are simply fed up with the opportunities that are NOT available to them.  I’m not going to say that the opportunities aren’t there – there are plenty of roles that Blacks/Latinos could star in that don’t have to be written for a minority – it’s just that people of color are often times not envisioned in main stream parts. 

But I just need to put it out there that IF there were some sort of boycott of the Oscars, then Black and Latino Hollywood played a part in letting the country (perhaps even some parts of the world if they were watching) down.  They should have shown up.

I hate to seem like a conspiracy theorist but it had to have been a boycott right?  Look at the faces above – we’re talking Black and Hispanic actors and actresses with serious acting credits to their names.  Some of them are Oscar winners AND I left so many other names off – Jamie Foxx, Rashida Jones, Selma Hayek, etc. 

Perhaps I am naïve but you can’t convince me that these people were simply not invited.  Even if they weren’t nominated, I’m sure the Academy would have found it appropriate to invite them to champion their peers and celebrate in their industry’s main event. 

It just doesn’t seem feasible that ALL of these actors were busy on the industry’s most important night. 

Please don’t get me wrong – I appreciate all of Hollywood.  I plan on making time to see the King’s Speech and I think Colin Firth is an exceptional actor.  I will eventually see The Fighter as Mark Wahlberg’s talent is undeniable.  I’ll put Black Swan on my list as it looks good, it just looks a little creepy.  In other words, I am happy for the films that won.  They all seem extremely deserving. 

I am just disappointed with Black and Latino Hollywood’s boycott of the event.  These minority actors and actresses were given an opportunity that most people will never have.  This is a huge responsibility and they need to act like it is.  Just because they feel snubbed doesn’t mean they shouldn’t show up.  SHOW UP – let your presence be known.  Have those tough conversations with casting directors, screenwriters etc…hold the decision makers accountable and work to open their minds about the breadth of roles that minorities can take on.  No one said it would be easy, but as it relates to your field – you are the chosen ones.  Fight to bring about change in your industry.

p.s. – If you have any insight on this subject matter please let me know…were they actually there but just not on camera?  Did the Academy, in fact, not invite them?…I just highly doubt this, I could be wrong – it’s happened before!

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A Wink From Above

It was a perfect moment…I was at one of my local watering holes, enjoying a glass of wine when I looked up and realized that I was face-to-face with a crack addict.  I wasn’t dealing with an addict of an illicit drug, I was dealing with an addict of the affliction that many well-meaning men and women face when they sit down and their pants decide to relax, too. 

I am curious as to how this happens to people…people are in control of their pants – pants have no say!  Of course if pants could talk perhaps they would want to slack and slouch…they might enjoy half-assedly covering someone’s buttocks – but it’s not enjoyable for the rest of us innocent bystanders.

Never mind that my friend and I got a great chuckle off of this ass-man and that I was able to snap this priceless photo, I knew that this experience was more than happenstance.   

Given the giant crack that was staring me down, I started thinking about signs.  People are constantly seeking signs that will help encourage them.  Signs that let them know that a loved one is thinking about them, signs that help them determine the right decision to make.   

I have been looking for a sign. 

I was looking for something to truly inspire me for my next blog post.  I wanted a nudge from something greater to guide me in the right direction…I needed divine inspiration.  What could I share that would make someone chuckle?  What could I share that might make someone’s day brighter?  I wanted to share a story that someone might remember someday. 

Sometimes a sign can be a song on the radio, a familiar phrase that a stranger might utter…and yes, sometimes a sign can be a bare ass.  Believe it or not, this man’s exhibition helped me recall one of the most touching memories I have of my maternal grandmother.

My Grandmother was funny – not in the crass way that we see today but in the clever sharp sort of way that sneaks up on you.  To take you back, it was May 2001, the night before I was scheduled to graduate from Hampton University.  My entire family made the pilgrimage to Hampton Virginia to observe the occasion.  We were relaxing in my parent’s hotel suite.  My Grandfather and Grandmother were there, along with my Uncle, Mom and Dad and we were just laughing and talking and enjoying the camaraderie.  Eventually we stumbled on a conversation about music and out of nowhere my Grandmother said…

“That reminds me of the old joke about the piano player that played songs upon request…

Someone walked up to the piano player and said – do you know blue moon? And he played the song…

Another person walked up to him and said – do you know my heart will always be true? And he played the song…

Another person walked up to him and said – do you know your ass is out?? And he said…
– I don’t know it, but if you hum it, I’ll play it!”

10 years later I still remember that moment.  That joke and its perfect delivery is probably one of the last vivid memories that I have of the spunky woman that my grandmother was.  Though she would go on to live for many more years, this beautiful woman’s mind and body was betrayed by Alzheimer’s disease.

So many families have been afflicted by this horrible disease.  Families watch their loved ones become shells of their former selves.  We watch as people that were beacons of strength descend into the madness and disjointed thoughts that have crept into the inner most intimate parts of their brain.  We watch destruction. 

In the wake of destruction, we are then only left with the blessing of fond memories.  We find a safe haven in these memories and if we’re smart we look at these memories as blessings from God…sometimes we even seek signs that our loved one is smiling down and laughing with us.

I fully believe that this bare-backed man was more than a source of cheap laughs on a Saturday night.  He was a reminder from my Grandmother, a wink of sorts, to laugh and rejoice in the good times.

– Cheers to good times and embracing the signs in your own life.