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The Oscars 2014: Is it Progress or Much the Same?

Posted on March 7, 2014 at 10:25 PM

It seems like the same types of roles and movies for African and African-American artists get appreciated by the Academy.  It seems like a few more movies got made with diverse, African-American casts this year, though only a few were recognized.  Why does it seem like the Academy is more comfortable and more likely to acknowledge slavery (“12 Years a Slave”) and other “beat down” depictions as well as stereotypical ones (such as that of the Somali pirate in "Captain Phillips").  Many people that I talk to consider "12 Years a Slave" a much better movie than Lee Daniel's "The Butler."  I enjoyed "The Butler" because it depicted the strength of an AfricanAmerican man and the dynamics of an African American family that strived and achieved over a considerable lifetime.  I was disappointed that it didn't get nominated for any categories, although due to its notable cast, it got considerable recognition by other entities.   It's hard for me to feel like considerable or substantial progress is being made by people of color when stereotypes continue to be reinforced by all races.  In so many ways, America is only considered an equal opportunity country when it comes to giving opportunities!  The Equal Rights Amendment is about 50 years old and it still hasn't been adopted into law or the Constitution.  We still have so many inequities that exist and need to be addressed.  Laws like "stand your ground" continue to impose unjust consequences for people of color.  Laws like "stop and frisk" continue to reinforce stereotypical frames of reference and expectations.  An African American President is a major accomplishment and a substantial move forward for those of us that want the country to be a better place and to set a better example.  We still have much honest communication to do with one another.  We need more open and just negotiation to take place regarding policies we implement and values we adhere to collectively. 

As always, I am grateful to live in a country that's provided me so much opportunity and so many resources to be able to participate and contribute.  It just makes me want to do more to make things better.   I love you.

Always,
DJ

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