Jada Pinkett Smith has chimed in on the #OscarsSoWhite social media protests via a video that she recorded and shared on her Facebook page early this morning, with the caption “Begging diminishes dignity…,” which makes it quite clear what her POV is on the entire fiasco.
In the video, she says pretty much the same thing that many of us have been saying for years now – essentially, questioning whether we (black people) need the validation of the Academy as some determinant of our talent and contributions to cinema Americana, and if we should instead look to ourselves and our communities for that validation. She also wonders whether black people should pool resources and start investing in black talent instead – something that I’ve argued for, numerous times on this blog since it was created. In fact, as I watched her speak in her video message, I wished I was there with her, face-to-face, so that I could ask what she and her husband, Will Smith (an international movie star, in a position of power and influence rarely afforded black people), were doing in that regard, to answer the very question that she asks. Because, I’ll say this, if the Smiths themselves (essentially Hollywood royalty, black or otherwise) haven’t yet reached the conclusion that there is a need for some kind of incubator where black talent can be nurtured and where black talent can thrive, or some kind of a “black film fund” that ensures black filmmakers with proven talent can compete for the financing that they need to get their films through production, so that we can get to that special place that she envisions for us, then I think we’re in trouble.
Black Hollywood (especially those in positions of power and influence) should be asking itself right now, what can we do together? Jada and Will should arrange a meeting – call up Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, Tyler Perry, Kevin Hart, etc, etc, etc – and ask themselves, how can we pool our resources to make a real, genuine difference here?
I want to give people like her props for speaking out on the matter (as members of a club that probably looks down on that kind of thing), but, at the same time, I want to know what exactly she and Will Smith are doing to affect real change here. We don’t need anymore lip service. There’s plenty of that to go around. Year after year, decade after decade, it’s the same thing, in repeat, over and over and over again. Enough! Do something instead! That will get my attention. Not this. Sorry. This is my challenge to the Jada Pinketts and Will Smiths of the world!