It’s been a several years since I last brought this up, and, in light of today’s #OscarsSoWhite social media protest that I’m sure will continue through the actual ceremony next month, I was reminded of it this evening, and thought I’d mention it again, as I’m sure most still aren’t aware that it actually existed.
Did you know that… from around 1982 until 2007, African American actors, directors, producers and executives held a secret ceremony on the night before Oscar night, to celebrate black performers, calling the event the Black Oscars. Every talent, from the likes of Samuel L. Jackson to Will Smith participated in this event, which was considered a moment for black Hollywood to honor its own.
However, in 2007, the so-called “Friends of the Black Oscars” – the secretive group that sponsored the event – decided that the Black Oscars had finally become obsolete, thanks in large part to what they saw at the time as a potentially game-changing increase in the presence of black talents in the race for Oscar; namely Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson, Will Smith, Djimon Hounsou and others who had been nominated, and in some cases, won Academy Awards.
I already comprehensively shared my thoughts on the lack of diversity among this year’s Oscar nominees which wasn’t necessarily popular opinion (read that piece here), but in light of #OscarsSoWhite, as well as the numerous *think* pieces that have been written so far today (and that will continue to be written on that subject), some believe that the Black Oscars should be reinstated. What do you think?
Before you dismiss the idea entirely as a segregationist step backwards, keep in mind that, there have long been, and there still are organized efforts to honor black talent separately, annually, both in the real and digital worlds. From the NAACP Image Awards, the BET Awards, The Reel Oscars, the ABFF Honors, the Eye on Black Salute and others, each with a similar overall mission that’s a reflection of the Black Oscars’ – to recognize the contributions made by black people to film, TV, music, etc; contributions ignored by mainstream awards celebrations like the Oscars.
So for all intents and purposes, we could say that the Black Oscars lives on via all of these other platforms.