For the past week, two things have been flooding my Facebook newsfeed: posts about the Flint Water Crisis and posts about how the 2016 Oscar ballot is suffering from a severe case of vitiligo. From numerous folk voicing their frustrations over Flint’s tap water being contaminated with lead poisoning, to dark-skinned Aunt Viv going ham on Jada for calling a boycott on the Oscars, to Stacey Dash reminding us of how clueless she actually is, I’ve witnessed an abundance of anger, pettiness, ignorance and shade over the last several days.
And then of course, there’s the posts from all the “woke” folk about how the Oscars is yet another distraction from all the major ish going on in the Black community (do we know what multitasking is anymore??). But in the midst of all the back-and-forth hooblah, I see one common denominator here: Black folk be getting hit with some major bull.
Allow me to present my case:
Exhibit A: The Flint Water Crisis
For those of you who are unaware (for whatever reason), the residents of Flint, Michigan have been unknowingly drinking and bathing in lead-contaminated water for the past two years, thanks to Michigan’s sorry excuse for a governor. When numerous residents voiced concerns about the disgusting look and smell of the water, this ignorant poster is one of the many passive responses they received:
Really??? So you think making a Sesame Street-looking poster saying that it’s perfectly fine for these folk to BATHE THEIR CHILDREN IN LEAD WATER — as long as they don’t drink it because, yuck! — is gonna make these people feel better about their current living conditions?? Mmkay. What I wanna know is, HOW DOES ISH LIKE THIS EVEN HAPPEN? Especially when you have a city surrounded by FIVE GREAT LAKES MADE UP OF FRESH WATER. Serious question.
*cues Jeopardy music*……………. Time’s up. I’ll take “Mass Genocides” for 500, Alex.
Unfortunately, when you’re talking about cities that are mainly comprised of lower class Black folk, stuff like the Flint Water Crisis comes as no surprise. As far as the government is concerned, these cities might as well be landfills, because the people who inhabit them get treated like straight garbage. First, a huge crisis occurs, severely impacting numerous families. Then months — and in this particular case with Flint, years — go by before the government even responds. And when they finally do, it’s after hella folk have gone through drastic lengths just to get their attention. We’ve witnessed cases like this with Hurricane Katrina and with the ongoing deplorable state of our urban public school systems. The sad part is, there are numerous other cases like this that haven’t even made it to mainstream media, off the strength — or lack thereof, rather — of the downtrodden Black communities in which these issues occur.
Exhibit B: The 2016 Oscars
On MLK Day, Jada Pinkett Smith posted a video on Facebook voicing her concerns about the blatant lack of diversity and inclusion on the 2016 Oscar ballot. In case you haven’t seen the video (again, for whatever reason), here it is below:
So there were a ton of folk who viewed Jada’s call-to-action as nothing more than a crybaby reaction to her husband Will Smith not being nominated for his performance in Concussion (which I still have yet to see). There were also folk like Janice Hubert (aka the original Aunt Viv), who simply “don’t give a kitty” about the Oscars and feel like there are way bigger fish to fry, because clearly people have “mortgages and bills to pay.” Although her video was extremely entertaining with some valid points, Aunt Viv definitely mixed some 25-year-old expired salt into her Lipton tea ’cause she was going ham on Jada for very obvious, hella personal reasons. You can watch her pettiness in all it’s glory here.
But getting back to Jada. This is a Black woman in Hollywood who worked hard to get to where she is in her career, as did her husband. So for people to say the Oscars shouldn’t be considered a big deal to Black people is pretty unfair, in my opinion. Yes, the average person has mortgages and bills and other ish to deal with in life. But those are that person’s struggles. Being snubbed of acknowledgement for decades of hard work as a Black actor/actress is their struggle. My point is, rich or poor, we all have struggles, people. And putting them on a weighing scale to attack one another isn’t gonna solve our problems.
While I do agree that Mrs. Smith has her personal reasons for calling this Black Oscar Lives Matter movement, her overall message goes waaaay deeper than just the Oscars. Ultimately, it’s about empowering our own people. For far too long, Black folk have gone above and beyond to receive acceptance, acknowledgement and respect from the privileged. But why? Why are we so stuck on seeking validation from a society that was never created for us to thrive in in the first place? As Jada so eloquently stated, “Begging for acknowledgement diminishes dignity.” And as I’ve said in a previous post, we as a people need to start utilizing our power and resources to build one another up and invest into our own. But even with all that said, Black people such as Jada, who have a larger platform, influence and audience, need to start speaking out on more issues in the Black community (I would love to hear her take on the Flint Water Crisis). Furthermore, our people need to let go of this, “I forgot where I came from mentality” once we reach a certain level of success. At the end of the day, we all need to be supporting one another. Which leads me to my last and final point…
Exhibit C: Anti-Black Black People (aka Sell-outs)
I’m not going to spend too much time here because, Stacey Dash. Her name alone is enough reason for me to serve her a gallon of Flint water. But I’m not gonna go there. I will say this though: Clueless was the perfect show for her. Because any Black woman who can get on national television and say that there shouldn’t be a Black History Month is a damn fool. The whole reason Black History Month was created in the first place — along with Black organizations, networks and award shows — is BECAUSE of the fact that Black people have been robbed of our history, culture and dignity since our ancestors rolled up on the European’s slave ships. If it weren’t for networks like BET or award shows like the NAACP Image Awards, Black representation and acknowledgement in the industry would be little to none. And that includes your clueless, hypocritical, ignorant, BLACK behind, Stacey Dash.
And on that note, I rest my case.