That Al Sharpton was apparently the very first African American Sony chief Amy Pascal thought to call, when faced with heavy criticism over the racially-insensitive contents of leaked emails, has been a cause for concern for some of us, and even a reason for reflection on who the perceived so-called “leaders” of Black America are, and how they assumed that position.
Although it’s certainly not surprising.
For his part, Sharpton has now assembled what is being called a “diversity task force,” which is made up of 8 members who have now been revealed. They are: former head of diversity at Fox, Ron Taylor; actress Vivica A. Fox; Hollywood Black Film Festival CEO Tanya Kersey; Pastor William Smart Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Woodrow Clark, an environmental scientist and producer; the Rev. K.W. Tulloss of the National Action Network; producer and director Jean Claude LaMarre; and writer/filmmaker Gary Hardwick.
The task force will meet with Amy Pascal later this month, to present a list of recommendations, that will, as LaMarre put it, tackle “the lack of black meaningful content in the industry,” with Sony being just the first of what will apparently be other Hollywood studio targets.
“Kevin Hart comedies are great, but if even the chairman of the company is laughing at them, there’s an issue,” LaMarre said, adding, “Finding a black person [in a position of power in Hollywood] is like finding a needle in a haystack […] There isn’t a single senior VP or president of a major studio who is of African-American descent.”
And this task force, selected by Sharpton, will attempt to change all that.
Will they be successful? Time will tell. Obviously, how they approach the matter, and the execution of that plan, will be key determinants. And, as of today, specific details on this diversity push aren’t public. But I suppose it’s something of a start.
Although, frankly, this certainly won’t be the first time that Hollywood studio chiefs have been directly challenged to consider initiatives that would increase the participation of so-called *minority* groups in key decision-making stages of the film production and distribution process, sharing some of that power instead of hoarding it, limiting its use to a tiny homogeneous few.
An obvious question in reaction to this would be, will this “diversity task force” push also include increasing representation for other *minority* groups, and not solely African Americans? Or is it an “every group for itself” kind of thing?