That was my response to a friend who wondered why I wasn’t more upset and enraged over the dearth of black actors cast in Hollywood feature film projects, as well as the tiny percentage of *black films* backed by the studios, as we both looked over the lengthy list of new feature film projects announced in the last few weeks, as well as the onslaught of recent Cannes Film Festival updates, via other non-race-specific sites.
"As someone who writes about this stuff, don’t you get really annoyed… and depressed when you’re going through these sites and it’s nothing but whiteness, and more whiteness everywhere, with a few sprinkles of color scattered about," was essentially his inquiry.
If he’d asked me that question 6 to 7 years ago, when I was running a little-known personal blog called The Obenson Report, long before Shadow & Act was born, my response would’ve been entirely different. In fact, he wouldn’t have had to ask me that question because my *raging* would’ve been evident.
But, eventually, as stated, I realized that I certainly wasn’t the first black person to rage against the machine, so to speak; black people have been doing just that since D.W. Griffith unleashed Birth Of A Nation onto the world. It’s kind of sobering when I read critiques by black writers, of black films and TV shows (or black characters in films and TV shows), from 50 to 100 years ago, and I realize that I can say almost the exact same things about black films and TV shows (or black characters in films and TV shows) in recent times – suggesting how little has changed over the years, and how very far we still have to go.
As much as the institution called Hollywood pats itself on the back for how liberal it thinks it is, is it really?
Eventually, you have to realize that, the product of an entire industry that’s run by white men primarily, will reflect its makeup (their POV) for the most part, especially when they haven’t demonstrated much of a desire to broaden their horizons, and take what would be described as "risks," and, like most in industry, are almost entirely profit-motivated.
You also realize how powerless you really are to challenge the status quo, especially as a single voice. Collective power is another thing entirely, however [see AFFRM’s recent push]. But that’s another conversation – one we’ve had a number of times in the past on this blog.
And I’d rather invest all that energy (as well money and time) into projects and initiatives that I think fill the gaping hole Hollywood has long ignored, or has convinced itself doesn’t exist, or, frankly, just doesn’t care about.
So… life isn’t fair. Mother Teresa isn’t running Universal Pictures nor Warner Bros. There are stories to tell and lots of money to be made, but, unfortunately, you don’t really have a seat at that coveted table. You’re invisible – haven’t you heard? And nobody gives a shit about you and your plight, and your laments about how *invisible* you are (other than you; you meaning, "us").
But whatever the reason is, I actually really don’t care anymore. It’s pointless. The bottomline is that the results are evident, and have been for a long time, despite the tiny bursts of progress that have been made over the years.
So I’m tired of *raging* if you will, and reacting to every questionable casting decision, every *problematic* project made, the lack of awards show representation, critical analysis of "what’s wrong with Hollywood," or "why black films aren’t [Fill in the blanks]" or "why black actors are [Fill in the blanks], etc, etc, etc.
Our collective resources are better utilized in what I feel are more productive ways [like ensuring that the crowdfuning campaign Haile Gerima launched yesterday for his latest feature film is a success].
But, to my friend who inspired this post (thank you by the way), don’t let any of what I’ve said stop YOU from raging though.
A luta continua.