On The Oscars And Us... An Open Letter...
Photo Credit: S & A

On The Oscars And Us... An Open Letter...

nullon the OSCARS and us…

my man declared it, the year of the writer. so i write.

while i celebrate the declaration i ache in my soul for the glaring omission. on the grand stage of pop culture, clutching the coveted oscar that has eluded his deserving hand for years, my dude QT forgot to mention the africans. my other dude, day lewis, certainly no stranger to oscars, forgot as well when receiving his award. they both forgot to mention the subject matter; those whom without their sacrifices and struggle and indentured servitude and abuse and work and work and work, from sun up to sun down, and work and work and work for over 400 years, there would be no movies or debates or paycheck or black actor or hollywood industry for black actors to aspire to take part in, built on the flourishing commerce that we all enjoy, that my ancestors fed liberally with free labor.

not only will i write. i will speak out on some of the illest shit in our culture: insensitive omission. a widespread disease of the privileged; white and black alike. the films are done, in the can and canon of american history. if there were ever a time to be exemplary and acknowledge the debt of gratitude owed, it is now; right along with acknowledging our agents and managers and producers, who are all getting fat off the historical suffering right along with us.

be understood, this is not a QT problem nor a day-lewis/spielberg problem. being artists, they reflect the culture that we live in, as they should. this is an american problem. we all forgot and we continue to make forgetting ok. it's not ok.

as i continue to negotiate dubois' two-ness, i resolve that nothing is greater than principle. NOTHING. no success, no doe, no fame, no accolade. i must honor my ancestors and speak out on the illness that permeates our culture.

i say this with reservation and i'm upset with myself for feeling any sort of trepidation whatsoever. why? because it's not good business. i'm still aspiring. i'm still what some would call emerging in my field of study: filmmaking.

i, like many of my comrades, auditioned for one of the films recognized by the academy. immediately after, and maybe to the chagrin of my representation, i verbalized to the casting director, "this aint me". regardless to being seriously considered or not, i had a hollywood shuffle moment and came clean with what i was feeling before i even left the room. as an artist i honestly didn't see myself in the film. as a black man, my soul ached, then as it does now, that i even had to deal with the question. luckily, the casting director was empathetic. we remain friends.

yet, unfortunately we seem to still live in a world where to say anything loving or affirming of black culture is deemed sinful. as if to say "i love you" means that i hate others. when in fact, to say that "i love you" means that i'm making a greater investment in the capacity to love others. most disturbing is that the idea is seen as sinful in more black folks eyes than other folks eyes. i've experienced more than a few jewish and white friends expressing flat out ire around the socio-politics that score this year of movie and art making. praise the spirit, humanity is not dead.

not to descend into a beleaguered lament, let me say irrefutably: black folk, past and present, i love you and honor you and will write you and depict you in all of your complexity. please forgive me for any omission and trust that i'm working diligently to be better about honoring your experience.

I WILL NOT FORGET, insha'allah!

in service,


Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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