The Black Dilemma: Fighting the Wrong Fight

jada pinkett smithAgain, the Motion Picture Academy fails to nominate a black actor, male or female, for one of its top Oscars in the acting category. It is the second straight year of they were shut out.

Loud howls calling for boycotts were heard.  One voice, Jada Pinkett Smith made a noteworthy comment. She said: I can’t help but ask the question: Is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence, that we have amassed, that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere?”

She is right but she is barking up the wrong tree when she deals with the motion picture industry. That industry has always been a predominately white industry. The influence of blacks on it is minuscule. Blacks represent only 2 % of those who vote.

There have been 332 winners of the best acting awards since the beginning of the Oscars in 1929. Of that amount 7 have been black women and 8 black men representing 4 ½% of the wins. That percentage rebuts the cry of racism because it probably equates well with the number of lead roles played by blacks.  Whoppi Goldberg one of the few black Oscar winners noted:  that what exists is “the idea . . . that there’s no place for black movies.” She said the people who fund the movies “believe we don’t want to see movies with black people in them.”

There will be a big push to include more black nominees. The Academy in a panic announced new changes planning to double the minority representation by 2020..  That will give the blacks 4% of the vote in 5 years.

There is a big downside to all this. The historic manner of selecting nominees will change. Future nominees will be selected not for their talent but to be inclusive. Most will wonder whether they were nominated not because of their abilities but to batten down criticism.

The good thing about it is that it matters little. It is Hollywood. It is the movies – the entertainment industry. It provides a product for us to immerse ourselves in for a couple of hours to distract us from other things.

It stands to reason to figure that In industries where blacks are a small minority they will have a small percentage of wins. Few complain that since 1901 no blacks have received a Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology of Medicine. They are mostly absent from those fields. Alleging racism on the part of those who elect the winners and demanding that blacks receive the award in a field they are underrepresented where the awards are supposed to be based on some type of subjective beliefs is fighting in the wrong arena.

There is however an area where blacks who represent 13% of the American population are heavily predominant. It is in the National Football League (NFL) where 66 percent of the players are black. Given that situation you would expect to feel a strong blacks influence. If you did not see it, then you would expect to see calls for boycotts or a more equitable treatment.

It is within those industries – industries that heavily depend on blacks for their survival – that the condition of blacks in America is starkly portrayed. Yet none call for doing anything about it. There is an eerie silence.

There are 32 NFL teams – not one has a black majority owner. Only 9% of the head coaches are black. Only 9% of the league staff. What does that say about blacks?

There are no protests that blacks labor under the direction of white owners. The NFL set up can only make one think of the old plantation days. Since its inception it has kept blacks out of decision-making roles. There are no blacks who vote at the owners’ meetings where they are made. The increasingly obvious absence of black coaches required the NFL to institute the absurd Rooney Rule forcing teams to interview a black person, whether qualified or not, for a head coaching position before offering it to a white man. We now see white women being hired as coaches over black men.

Earlier this month Tom Brady’s agent Donald Yee wrote an article about blacks in college football. He calls them “unpaid labor.” He writes: “we need to stop ignoring the racial implications of the NCAA’s hypocrisy” suggesting it is causing a racial injustice. He asks: “Why is this business model – unpaid labor, mostly by black athletes, generating riches for white administrators – still tolerated?” (my emphasis)

He went on advocating some type of work action by the black athletes: If even a small group of players took a stand and refused to participate — imagine if they boycotted or delayed the start of Monday night’s championship game — administrators would have to back down. There’s too much money on the line, and no one could force the teams to play against their will.”

In the NCAA football division 57% of the football players are black compared to 68% in the NFL. Yee wants them to have a bigger share of the financial pie. Hypocritically when it comes to the NFL where he earns his money he is silent. And that is where they are really being deprived of their fair share of the proceeds.

The black NFL players are generating riches for white” owners. They get some pay through their contracts described as: “more like denim-clad arrangements, fashionably ripped up and torn at the discretion of the owners.” In other word at the whim of an owner any black player can be shipped down river without recourse. They get no part of the real pie — a share of the ownership’s massive profit — while representing over two-thirds of the workforce.

How is it the blacks in leadership positions condemn the mostly white entertainment industry for its treatment of blacks while closing their  eyes to the mostly black football industry’s treatment of them?

6 thoughts on “The Black Dilemma: Fighting the Wrong Fight

  1. Rather than obsessing exclusively on Black and other demographics being underrepresented, it might be informative to break down the over represented into constituent parts. White is a very vague concept. Some call it a social construct, even that it does not exist. Exactly whose cash register rings up the profits? White is not an instructive category. Surely an inquiring mind could be more specific.

  2. Rather Not, you need to be a little more specific. Perhaps you think Black Mass is a grade B gangster movie that ripped off (or tried to rip off) much superior films like Goodfellas? If the answer to this question is “yes,” join the many Academy members who obviously feel the same way you do.

  3. I can’t help noting that Black Mass didn’t receive a single Oscar nomination in any category.

  4. Matt
    Excellent article. On a side note, when will you be going through each and every murder Whitey Bulger was accused of during the trial? You said that you would devote Monday through Wednesday SPECIFICALLY for all things pertaining to Bulger until there was nothing more to write about concerning the trial, no?

  5. Matt:

    Well written, well said.

    You are 100% on the money when you write that this ridiculous claim is a “distraction.”

    The black influence in America or should I call them “ladder pullers” remain silent concerning critical issues that harm us all. The collateral damage is worse and can be seen in newspapers and police blotters across America.

    Based on my direct knowledge, one of the critical issues is the well planned discrimination against women and minorities operating in the federal government, subsidized by billions of taxpayer dollars, covered up by the Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights.

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