I’ve been hearing the buzz about Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee’s intended boycott of the Oscars. Let me start this off by saying that I am black. I think too often when someone sees a criticism of something like this they immediately write it off as a white person who doesn’t understand the point. Here’s the thing while I am Jamaican and my father is black my mother is as Spike Lee put it “Lily White”. When you’re bi-racial things are very different. Some see you as black while others don’t consider you black. I have faced racism, like sitting at a bus station as a teenager and having a man say “what are you looking at you big eyed ni**er”. Or the time I went to an after school program for black youth and heard “Why is he here he’s not even black”. Yes I’ve faced it from both sides so black people aren’t that innocent either.
My problem is not the message that Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee are putting out there. I think it’s great, they have a point and they are standing up for their belief. It will raise awareness of the problem and maybe fix it. Perhaps the Academy will add new members from different backgrounds. Perhaps they will add a viewer poll that is weighted equally with the member’s choices who knows. My problem is the way that Jada and Spike are going about this. My first problem is Spike Lee making this a purely Black and White issue. Using the derogatory term “Lily White” especially in a world that is increasingly multi-racial. Who is really out of touch here? I consider my son black but his skin color is “Lily White”. How will people react when he gets older if he says he’s black? The problem is so much more than skin color.
Yes I agree that it’s ridiculous that there are no black nominees. I agree that there needs to be more diversity in the executives in charge of studios. I think it’s great that Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee are not going or will not be watching it. But they are expecting millions to join in the cause simply because they are celebrities. They are talking specifically about a problem in their industry. While it’s part of the whole how does it help every day regular people on the streets? Smith’s son is the face of a fashion line. Jada Pinkett Smith’s net worth is an estimated $20 million. While Spike Lee’s net worth is an estimated $40 million. So while what they are doing is admirable and someone needs to say it and do it. Why aren’t they doing more?
Why aren’t they out there funding young black entrepeneurs. Why aren’t they out there at schools in poor neighbourhoods talking to kids. Giving hope to kids who think they have no way out. Set up scholarships and grants, speak out regularly on social media about representation not only in the film industry but in sciences, business, startups. Band together and use your money to start a studio. Create your own awards that are not just for black actors but represent the diversity that you feel is missing from the Oscars. Be those executives in the studio that have power to greenlight projects or the people that choose great movies, directors and actors to be awarded. It’s great to say hey lets boycott this because of the lack of representation of black people but if you really care why stop there? and if you’re going to use something as powerful as a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Then make your message a little more meaningful. But hey that’s just my thoughts.