Listening to the disembodied ebony-tinted shrieks of rejection emanating from Hollywood, one might imagine that the Ku Klux Klan had appropriated the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences, and replaced the Hollywood Sign with a flaming cross! Reportedly, the situation is so offensive that some African American artists and filmmakers are promoting boycott for the Oscar Award ceremonies, to protest the fact that their or someone else's work was rejected by the Academy. The wife of a well-known African American actor is suggesting a separate but equal academy for those being so horribly discriminated against in the present set-up. A Martian reading this might perceive that there certainly must be some form of inter-species unfairness afoot here. There very well may have been – but, to a reasonable eye, this ain't it! Some cogent facts:

· African American Cheryl Boone Isaacs is President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Weirdly, it is she who is leading this parade of malcontents!

· African American Reginald Hudlin is co-producer of the Oscar Awards Ceremony for 2016.

· African American comedian Chris Rock will host the 2016 Oscar Awards.

· The apartheid-inclined wife indicated above is married to Will Smith, a former rapper who, through wide exposure in non-stereotypical roles, has become one of the biggest Hollywood stars ever!


If this sounds like an unreal, parallel universe, join the club!




If those ebony, Hollywood crybabies would do a bit of reading or simply ask their grandparents, they would understand that Hollywood has been on the same evolutionary track as the rest of the country, with regard to racial matters. Hollywood might have moved along a bit faster, but it had to sell films to a nation that was on tortoise legs in that regard. For example, the strikingly beautiful Lena Horne – apart from her appearance in all-Black films – could be used only in individual musical sequences that easily might be extracted from the film in areas of the country where her mere appearance on the screen as a normal human being would be offensive. Miss Horne had to suffer indignities on the set, as well. She was not allowed to eat in the commissary with the White cast and crew. Also, some makeup people refused to attend to her.




In contrast, Hattie McDaniel, who played a strong-willed, enslaved house-maid in Gone With the Wind, received an Oscar in 1939. There was a hitch, though, none of the African Americans appearing in the film were allowed to attend the premier performance in very racially segregated Atlanta, Georgia. That was a time – with no relief ever from the U.S. Congress – Black folk were lynched at will throughout the South.


sidney poitier oscar



The early history of African American actors in Hollywood was spelled out in racially demeaning roles. Sydney Poitier escaped that type of demeaning characterization. He won the Oscar for Lilies of the Field. Oddly, his romantic, supporting role with a White actress, almost 50 years ago, probably caused less ado at that time than it would today.


Although African Americans were seen on the screen, they were completely absent everywhere else on the set, or in the guilds. When television came along, for some time, Hollywood actors eschewed appearing on the small screen. It was a long time before that intimate medium was brave enough to display a Black face.


So, you spoiled, rich Nigs in Hollywood, with your fingers all over the pie, quitcherbichin'! Everybody can't win every time. Just because you may think that your performance is boffo, apparently not enough members of the Academy are in agreement. There is no accounting for taste. If you did not impress them this time, then, strive to do something that will knock their socks off next time. At least you're in the freakin' arena!


Granted, these young folk may not be aware of how far they have come; but, then again, why the hell should they?!


***** ****** *****

Hollywood once had no color;

It became duller and duller.

One day, we walked in,

And flashed lots of skin.

The spectrum there's now quite fuller!




Curtis W. Long

Curtis W. Long

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