Redefining Black


By: Antwan Pixley

Martin Luther King made it possible for freedom of speech, Langston Hughes focused on identity issues that were as much poetic as they were political, and Mary McLeod Bethune was an advocate for education. All three of these leaders, among many others fought long and hard for equal rights for African Americans, which is why it is important for African Americans to continue to be trailblazers in society.

So much has been done, but still, there’s so much more that needs to be accomplished. For
starters, black on black crime needs to stop, because that’s not a good representation of us. It’s
important for us to come together and encourage each other, and love each other. We have more
power than we realize. The 2016 Oscar boycott is a perfect example; there were no black
nominees this year, but does that mean we aren’t good? Of course not. Does that mean there’s
prejudice within the Academy? Possibly. The 2016 Oscars boycott is a slap in the face, and it
should be a wakeup call, that you don’t need validation from anyone about how good you are or
your body of work. We do what we love because it brings us happiness; we don’t do it to satisfy
others. Just because we as African American’s didn’t receive Oscar nominations doesn’t mean it’s
the end of the world. “In reference to Will and Jada — and I love them — they’ve already won,”
Mo’Nique told V-103. “Will is one of the few multi-million dollar actors that is of color. Ten
years ago, the word was that he was getting $20 million a film. If you’re getting $20 million a
film, y’all have already won. Do we stand up over a gold plated trophy? Or do we stand up and
say we need equal wages and equal treatment? Are we standing up now because it’s in your
backyard? Because the Oscars was no different last year. The Oscars have not been any different
for what, 89 years?”

She continued, “But why do we keep wanting to get thrown a bone? Why do we want to keep
saying ‘Can we please come to your party?’ Instead of saying, ‘We have a party over here and we
welcome everybody, but we’re not begging to come to you party.’ I think it’s a bigger picture to
be arguing over a trophy.”

“I don’t think this is a ‘black’ issue. I think this is our issue,” Steve McQueen told The Guardian.
“If people want to categorize it as a black issue, that’s weird. Just like if I was talking about
women in film. It’s my issue, too. It’s our issue. It’s about we. W-E, not M-E.”

He continued, “This is exactly like MTV was in the 1980s. Could you imagine now if MTV only
showed music videos by a majority of white people, then after 11:00 it showed a majority of
black people?…It’s the same situation happening in the movies. Hopefully, when people look
back at this in 20 years, it’ll be like seeing that David Bowie clip in 1983. I don’t even want to
wait 20 years. Forgive me. I’m hoping in 12 months or so we can look back and say, ‘This was a
watershed moment, and thank God we put that right.'”

There are so many successful African American leaders; doctors, lawyers, and educators who are all making a difference for the better. They aren’t worried about the recognition because the work speaks for itself, whether it’s recognized or not. The Oscars are the least of our worries. While I respect other’s passion in boycotting the Oscars to bring attention to racial inequality, I fear that attention will detract from the more pressing issues such as police brutality, social justice, diversity, and equality for all and as a whole. That’s where we need to start. Our ancestors sacrificed so much for us to be here today, to have this moment, to have freedom of speech, so let’s focus our efforts and energy where it’s needed.


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