Once again, there is controversy over the nominations of this year’s Academy Awards. In each major category, there are no people of color (Black, Latino, or Asian) nominated for an Oscar. This has led to the resurgence of the social media hash tag #OscarsSoWhite. While I support efforts to try and diversify all aspects of the entertainment industry, we must first embrace our own cultural recognitions, such as the NAACP Image Awards or even the BET Awards. Each year, we crave to have people of color nominated or even win an Oscar, Emmy, or Tony, but criticize and shun our own shows.
This week I heard an African American woman say the saddest thing I have ever heard, “We have to make up our minds. Either we want to have segregation or integration. If we don’t want segregation then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the [NAACP] Image Awards, where you are only awarded if you are black. If it were the other way around, we would be up in arms. It’s a double standard.” It is only even sadder that the woman who spouted this nonsense was Stacey Dash.
Dash is famous for her role as the token Black friend in the 1995 hit show/film, Clueless. But her career “skyrocketed” because she became the video vixen for many music videos, television shows and movies shown on BET. Stacey Dash was to ’90s boys as Apollonia was to ’80s boys and Pam Grier to ’70s boys. Now, Dash has followed the money to become just another token Black commentator for Fox News. Since joining the conservative station, Dash sounds more and more ridiculous.
When we have African Americans, such as Dash, questioning the need for organizations that cater to our culture, it takes away from the few gains we have made. Every year, safeguards, such as the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action, are attacked by those who truly believe we should forget about our past. They believe we have reached an apex, where are all cultures are tolerated and accepted. It is not until controversies, such as Oscar nominations, showcase that we may have made a few steps toward the mountaintop but our nation keeps sliding back down.
The worst part of this situation is we as African Americans are forced to answer the same question, which others continue to ask, “Why do we need separate organizations which only serve Blacks?” As long as young African Americans are being shot by police officers, we will still need the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). As long as the African Americans make less than their counterparts, we will still need the Urban League. As long as African American children are left to become the less, the last and the lost, we will still need 100 Black Men and 100 Black Women. As long as our past is being erased, we will still need to recognize Black History Month. #ijs