I wasn’t going to watch at first. I had made up in my mind that the Academy didn’t deserve my viewership. Really, it didn’t deserve ANY of our viewership…people of color, that is. After all, it was the 88th Academy Awards, and we were still having a conversation about the lack of diversity. We were tired. But ironically, the Academy asked Chris Rock, a legendary comedian, known for making crude jokes and pushing the envelope as far as it could possibly go to host this year’s ceremony. And while I had pledged not to tune in on Sunday, I just had to see it for myself. I wanted to see Chris tear the Academy a new one, LIVE and in color.
Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.
Chris was terribly disappointing. Not only did he let the Academy off the hook, but he threw Jada Pinkett-Smith, along with other people of color under the bus, which really pissed me off.
You all may remember the video that Jada released, calling the Academy out on their shit, and urging others to do the same. The backlash was swift, many people accusing Jada of being divisive, or simply being a sore loser due to the fact that her husband, Will Smith wasn’t nominated.
And to them, I say, you must not know ’bout Jada Pinkett-Smith.
Jada has BEEN down for the cause. WOKE. And yea, perhaps her husband not being nominated was the the push she needed to speak up, but SO WHAT? That doesn’t make what she said any less true. The Academy excludes people of color-plain and simple.
This is nothing new. People of color have been boycotting the Oscars for years. Check out Sacheen Littlefeather’s message to the Academy.
That was 30 plus years ago.
So I was rooting for Chris. I just knew that HE, a Black comedian who talks about race and racism on the regular, was going to say the things that needed to be said, and hit the nerves that needed to be hit. He didn’t. Instead, he attacked Jada Pinkett-Smith, and he discredited the #OscarsSoWhite movement.
“Jada got mad, Jada says she’s not coming, protesting, I’m like — doesn’t she have a TV show? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”
“It’s the 88th Academy Awards. It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means — this whole no black nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times. Okay? You got to figure that it happened in the ‘50s, in the ‘60s. You know, in the ‘60s, one of those years, Sidney didn’t put out a movie. I’m sure — I’m sure there were no black nominees, some of those years.”
“Say 62 or 63 and black people did not protest. Why? Because we have real things to protest at the time. You know? We have real things to protest. You know? Too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won Best Cinematographer. You know, when you — when your Grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about Best Documentary Foreign Short.”
For Chris Rock to imply that protests happening today are no big deal because Black people are no longer being lynched was dangerous and irresponsible. To stand in front of a majority white audience and reaffirm the notion that people of color are just whining and need to be “better actors” and “work harder” if we want to win Oscars is silly and tone deaf. Because we all know that’s not at all how any of this works.
But Chris Rock wasn’t the only comedian who thought the #OscarsSoWhite controversy was much ado about nothing…apparently, so did Jamie Foxx. Foxx, a former jheri-curl rocking, Texas native told his peers that they needed to act better if they wanted to win an Oscar…or even be nominated, for that matter.
Just when I thought all hope was lost, one Black celebrity who hadn’t been drinking the Academy Kool-Aid, spoke out-Tyrese Gibson. Known for saying whatever the hell he wants, whenever the hell he wants, this time, I was actually glad Tyrese had an opinion.
“Did you really use your STAGE to tear down and diminish one of the strongest most fearless black women IN this town as the world watched??? Jokes are just jokes right????
“Not when someone is trying to affect change……… Not when someone is willing to put it ALL on the line to affect change for our daughters and sons of the future…….. Shame on you Chris Rock.”
Exactly. Shame on you, Chris Rock.
Here’s the 5 way call I hope and pray happened that morning, following the Oscars-
Tyrese: Jada. Jamie. Chris. Spike. I’m glad everyone could join in on this very important phone call. I just want to start out by saying that Chris, your statements about my sister Jada were highly offensive, and frankly, I’m very disappointed in you. I just don’t even know where to begin. Jada is a REAL artist-
Spike: Aye, man. F*ck all that. Here’s the deal-Chris, I gotta tell ya, man, that opening you did last night was bullsh*t.
Spike: Nah man. I’m very upset about it. First of ALL, everybody can look at my body of work and understand-I’m the one who made Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, She’s Gotta Have It, I can go on and on, but what I’m saying is, you see, I’m from Brooklyn-
Tyrese: Spike, I wanna let Jada talk. Let’s let the sister talk.
Spike: OK. Let’s let her talk.
Jada: Thank you, Tyrese. I just want to start off by saying that this is very difficult for me. My life is full of paradoxes. That’s just my life. Being a wife, and a mother is one of the extraordinary experiences in my life, but at the same time, it’s been very difficult to balance. With that said, it’s my responsibility to set a good example for my children, and to stand up for my family, and those I believe in. Every day I go into meditation and ask for guidance. While meditating, the answer came to me-Boycott the Oscars.
Jamie: Uh huh. Uhhh, look, I don’t mean to be rude, but this is really a trip to me. I mean, I just don’t see the issue. Y’all Black asses need to work harder and act better. Shit, I GOT my Oscar.
Spike: F*ck your Oscar, Jamie. Really my man. F*ck your Oscar. Those mothaf*ckas gave me an HONORARY Oscar. And look at my body of work. Summer of Sam, Inside Man, Mo’ Betta Blues, Red Hook Summer–
Jamie: We know Spike, you told us.
Jada: Brothers, listen-I look for the power in all things. I look for the beauty in all things. And I know that I’m very spiritual now, and I’m supposed to be above the bullsh*t, but let me tell you something-I’m from the streets of Baltimore. Tupac Shakur was my best friend. So please understand, and never get it twisted, I am not to be played with.
As for you Chris-don’t you ever, in your Black ass life, get onstage in front of a room of white folk and attempt to drag me like you did.
Spike: Yea, how much money did they pay you Chris? How much-
Jada: Thanks Spike, but I got this. Don’t you ever try to discredit the movement, and don’t you ever try to discredit me or my husband. Because I ain’t havin’ it. You’re supposed to be better than that. You had a platform, you had a job to do, and you failed. And Jamie, PLEASE don’t forget your humble beginnings. After all, you were WANDA, on In Living Color. You didn’t always have an Oscar. And let’s be real-
Spike: Of COURSE you won an Oscar for playing a blind, Black entertainer who white people loved! Of course, you got the Oscar, Jamie!
Tyrese: My goodness.
Jada: So I’m going to get off the phone, because I feel my blood pressure going up, but please hear me Chris and Jamie, and hear me GOOD. Keep my name, and my husband’s name out of your mouth, or you all will see the return of Baltimore Jada real f*cking soon. Everyone have a beautiful night. Be blessed. Namaste.
Tyrese: Ok, guys. I thought that went well.
*two more dial tones*
What did you think of Chris Rock’s Oscar performance? Comment below!