This post addresses African descendants — well, the ones who watched last night’s Academy Awards ceremony and received confirmation that the impending Black shutout was really real — but are still looking for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize your people’s ability to earn one of those gold statues.
Peeps, I feel you. Recognition, in the case of the Oscars, is synonymous with validation that the top creative works of African descendants matter and deserve a rightful place among the best works offered the film industry.
But you have to be kidding yourself if you think this validation will come easy or soon, if at all.
I put your search for the Oscars’ stamp of approval in the same dream chasing category as the way some of you to continue to seek institutional validation for your dark skin, full lips and round backsides, in the face of derision or passive neglect by many parts of White society.
And yet, your fight for validation turns to frustration while you seem to ignore how your critics go to tanning parlors, get lip injections, try CrossFit or otherwise stand opportunistically influenced by the most significant artistic and social movements initiated by African descendants for centuries.
How can you fight for artistic validation when the voting members of the Academy are 91% White, 76% male and will likely vote from a different social architecture than yours? There may be times when you’ll find something in common with your validation arbiters, but there are those other times …
That’s why I didn’t call my decision to not watch the Oscars a boycott. I didn’t watch the ceremony because it has no relevance to my world. I don’t need their validation. I validate the talent I deem important, I can manage to do this regardless of skin color.
My last point about skin color is important because my life as a male of African descent living in a majority White society forces me to be bi-cultural, if not multi-cultural. You can also argue that I’m forced to have multidialectal competence (pdf).
In contrast, many members of the Academy likely never felt the need for such diversity immersion.
And that brings me to a question — why do you chase validation?
song currently stuck in my head: “pedal up (live)” – rahsaan roland kirk