*After several depressing decades of fine African-American performances being overlooked come Oscar time, the new millennium has seen the awards and nominations at the Academy fall like rain.
Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, Forest Whitaker, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, Octavia Spencer and Mo’Nique picked up Oscars, and Viola Davis, Djimon Honsou, Quvenzhane Wallis, Gabourey Sidobe and Taraji P. Henson all broke through. It certainly looks like this year should continue this upward swing.
Hollywood’s given us a banner year for African-American performances, With The Butler’s boffo box office and positive critical reception, Forest Whitaker is a lock to receive his second Best Actor nomination; don’t count on him winning, though, with a loaded field around him – one that should include Twelve Years a Slave’s remarkable Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is probably the favorite for the award at this point. This field could also easily include Idris Elba in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom or Michael B. Jordan for his breakout role in Fruitvale Station. Four potential nominees is one remarkable accomplishment. Sadly, it hasn’t been as strong a year for African-American actresses in the Lead Actress category; Angela Bassett has an outside shot for Black Nativity, but that’s about it.
The supporting categories offer much more opportunities. David Oyelowo could pick a nomination up for The Butler, and the underrated performance from Barkhdad Abdi as the Somali pirate leader in Captain Phillips also deserves recognition. Meanwhile, in the Supporting Actress category, Oprah Winfrey will get her second nomination for The Butler – and she should be the far-and-away favorite. Go ahead and start thinking about who she’ll thank on Oscar night. The other good news in Supporting? Lupita Nyong’o is guaranteed a nom for her heartbreaking role in Twelve Years a Slave, and Spencer could easily grab another nomination for her supporting turn in Fruitvale Station.
That’s a lot of color added to a ceremony that was very, very bland for a long time. There’s still a long way to go, but it really is nice to see these great actors become recognized on a regular basis; let’s hope this trend continues for all of the Oscar seasons to come.
Civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton has come under fire from Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly for his distribution deal with Cash Money Content, the publishing arm of Cash Money Records, Lil Wayne’s home label.
Lil Wayne has been under fire from some in Black America for lyrics that said he’d “beat the pu**y up like Emmett Till.” All of which resulted in the PepsiCo dropping their support of the artist.
O’Reilly in his daily Talking Points Memo on his show The O’Reilly Factor Thursday said the following:
Right now the unemployment rate among black males age 16 to 19, 57 percent. 57 percent. It’s 25 percent for white males that age. Overall, black unemployment, 14 percent; white unemployment, 6.6 percent. The reason, in many poor neighborhoods there’s chaos, violence and little discipline in the public schools. Kids aren’t learning. Also with the African-American-out-of-wedlock birth rate, at 73 percent. Many young blacks are unsupervised and prone to imitate bad behavior like what Lil Wayne puts out. The parent company of Lil Wayne, Cash Money Content, which markets vile stuff that hurts children, is a partner in distributing Sharpton’s upcoming book. That’s right. Al Sharpton is in business with people who put out entertainment harmful to children.
So let’s begin my talking points memo.
First, it’s not up to white America to tell Black America what to do, who to listen to on the radio, or who to look to as a leader. While it may feel like the their burden, it’s not their job to tell us how we should undo the centuries of damage caused, since bringing the first of us over here on the slave ships from West Africa. If white America feels that strongly about Rev. Sharpton, maybe they should ask themselves why Blacks still need Rev. Sharpton’s in 2013.
Second, Bill omitted the fact that the first people to complain about the lyrics of rappers were Black people, in particular Black women. White people didn’t jump on the bandwagon until Ice-T came out with “Cop Killer” and then folks lost their minds, literally. And to be honest, white people have not had much to say since then on the subject of rap music except for when it can be used to suggest alleged hypocrisy within Black America.
The reality is that white America is not all that worried about Black children and the state of Black families. What’s really bothering white America is their children who are attracted to and caught up in Black culture.
There’s no way that Lil Wayne would ever sell the amount of records and sell out the amount of concerts that he does without the dollars coming from white America. The most recent survey done on whites and hip-hop showed that more than 70% of rap music buyers are white and that number has undoubtedly grown over the years. In 2011, there were 28.25 album sales for the rap genre as a whole. Without the support of the white listeners, rap would not be the billion dollar industry it is today.
So my third point to Bill and those who think like him on this issue is that since white people are the major consumers of hip-hop maybe we need to shift this whole conversation around. Perhaps, it’s Black America who should be asking white America to stop supporting artists like Lil Wayne.
If white America is so concerned about Black unemployment, the Black family, and Black children, it could start with getting out of the way of the policies and funding for programs that make it easier to Blacks to sustain healthy families and lives. This would include supporting universal and affordable healthcare. Stop telling women they can’t have abortions and then snatching the funding for social welfare programs that ensure that those same Black kids eat and have a roof over their head. Forget Sharpton for a moment and stop cutting the afterschool programs that pave the way for many young blacks to be unsupervised as Bill put it. Stand with mothers on the other side of town for better schools for their children, not just yours.
And finally, depending on how you feel about Lil Wayne and music like his, Sharpton putting out a book under the Cash Money label may be a problem for some, but others might look at it as hope and much better material then what they’ve been putting out. Books unlike music require people to read and think and not just sing blindly along.
Who knows, it could be a real turning point for the label and its audience.
About Jasmyne A. Cannick Previously a press secretary in the House of Representatives, Jasmyne A. Cannick is a native of Los Angeles and writes about the intersection of race, class, and politics. She was chosen as one of Essence Magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World and can be found online at jasmyneonline.com. Follow her on Twitter@jasmyneand on Facebook at/jasmyne.
*According to a post-ABC poll conducted July 18 to 21 among a random national sample of 1,002 adults, it appears the racial divide is broadening.
The poll shows African Americans have a mostly shared and sharply negative reaction to the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the not-guilty verdict in the resulting George Zimmerman trial (no surprise there), while whites are far more divided, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
87 percent of African Americans say the shooting was unjustified; among whites, just 33 percent say so. 51 percent of whites approve of the not-guilty verdict in the Zimmerman trial, while African Americans overwhelmingly and strongly disapprove. Some 86 percent of blacks disagree with the verdict — almost all of them disapproving “strongly.”
There is also a partisan tinge to the public views. Among whites, 70 percent of Republicans but only 30 percent of Democrats say they approve of the verdict.
Wildly different views on the roles of race in the criminal justice system - from both Blacks and Whites – is said to be the reason for the disparity.
Fully 86 percent of African Americans say blacks and other minorities do not get equal treatment under the law; the number of whites saying so is less than half as large, 41 percent. A majority of whites, 54 percent, say there is equal treatment for minority groups. Some 60 percent of Hispanics say blacks and other minorities do not receive equal treatment with whites in the criminal justice system, and by a two-to-one ratio, they disapprove of the verdict in the Zimmerman trial.
Bloomberg Businessweek cover from February 25, has the editor backpedaling and trying to explain why this cover was approved in reference to their housing rebound story.
*The housing boom at the turn of the 21st century gave minorities an unprecedented opportunity in home ownership. But, what seemed to be an opportunity resulted in a bait and switch that has many families homeless today.
To add insult to injury, Bloomberg Businessweek ran a story February 25, on the housing rebound the country is supposed to be experiencing and the cover of the magazine depicts African Americans and Latinos in a house full of money waving wads of money around in their hand, according to NBC Latino.
Well, the disrespectful images couldn’t be further from the truth of what really happened when minorities were given promissory notes for homes the banks knew they would not be able to afford, but reeled them in via predatory lending anyway.