In America, Racial Humor Will…

…cause some serious strain on relationships.

So, it is with the greatest fear that I acknowledge a well-known racial fact. Ready?

As we enter the six hour marathon known as the Academy Awards, or Oscars (all rights reserved, trademarked name), I lament this racial certainty. Apparently, I am the only white man in America who was not nominated for an Academy Award. All of everything else was Whites only, just like drinking fountains in Jackson in the fifties.

I told you, it gets a little edgy here. And I think I am starting to understand why.

A long interview on PBS today featured a British interviewer asking questions of a Black American civil rights leader. The Brit asked our American fellow what seems to be the most pointed question out there right now. To wit, what role for what Black actor or actress would have surpassed the Caucasian roles in 2015’s most celebrated films?

No, I cannot think of a Black actor/actress who was better than Leo or whomever this year. Since the Oscars are based on merit, not mere participation, it follows that the absence of a person of color from any list of the best for this year just means no one distinguished himself, like Denzel did in his Oscar year, or Halle in hers.

One supposes this could be true, but, even if it were true, my tendency to look a little cock-eyed at all things requires that I say, even if there are no great Black performances this year, that is, as usual, not the point. Or, let me say it this way; the point is not the weakness of the acting jobs that were there, but the absence of strong, Oscar worthy roles written for persons of color. The point, then, is not the weakness of what is, but the absence of what could be.

As a nation, we still have a mile or two to go before we start to think about wanting to maybe consider what it could take to reach a settlement with our past. The American Original Sin(s) is all racial. The genocide against the American Natives, Slavery, the Interment of Japanese Americans during WW II, the repression of my Irish ancestors with the sign NoIrishNeedApply or NINA; our sin may start with rebellion against God but morphs into something racial before too long. I am older than many of my readers, not Bernie Sanders old, but older, and I remember the day when Persons of Color lived under the valid impression they had to be twice as good to get half as far. It was not a great day.

I make this not-so-bold prediction, to wit, next year’s Oscars will feature a slew of nominations from the soon to be remade Birth of a Nation, set to be released in October of this year. The advance word is incredibly strong, as to quality and story line. This one will be about the Nat Turner rebellion (oh, go google it or read a history book) and Hollywood, ever reactionary, will see a major opportunity to atone for the last two Lilly White years.

Until then, America will have to settle for its place as the only major industrialized nation to elect a person of color to its highest office. France, Germany, Japan, England? No, No, No and No. Apparently, in the USA, a person of color can be President.

He just has a hard time winning an Academy Award.

 

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