If You See Something, Say Something
This whole post is about to come off very "white person who just discovered racism exists" and I accept that. But I have to speak on this because it was too blatant to not address.
My life would be nothing and I would be nowhere without amazing black women. I was raised by a single mother of 5. I have 4 amazing sisters who are stunning representations of black women doing the damn thing. There has been a black woman present in EVERY significant event in my life. I'm a 26 year old gay man and most of my best friends are black women. Black women are some of the smartest and most talented people I know. Yet somehow they are still the most mistreated and under appreciated. Black women are held to the highest standards yet are judged the harshest. The most oppressed yet the most depended on. Being a double minority I always felt like I knew "the struggle." But something happened today that really made me think deeply about the unique struggle of the black woman. I recognize that I am an outsider to this perspective so all of my thoughts are purely observational and built upon my own opinions and biases about oppression. Lisa gave me the ok because she is too busy being a star and too tired from being a black woman. She told me to "let the world know cuz if I say it, no one will care."
So lets set the scene. Windy City Live is doing a Facebook Live video recapping the Oscars. The host Val and Ryan are there with a panel of 3 people. Dann Gire, a film critic, Lisa Beasley, a comedian, and Brian Babylon, also a comedian. This plays live as I'm asleep. I wake up 3 hours later and want to support my friend Lisa so I watch it. AND BOY DID THIS SHIT LEAVE ME ENRAGED! WHY? Because there was a blatant bias AGAINST the black women on that stage. Imma be blunt, that fucked me up. And I messaged Lisa like "Hey girl, you were great on the show. Love you but also DAFUQ???"
Let's go in details shall we!
The video starts off by discussing the Best Picture flub when "La La Land" was announced the winner of Best Picture and then was notified that "Moonlight" actually won. The general consensus was the production team of "La La Land" was so 'gracious' when they had to give the award to the production team of "Moonlight." And Brian Babylon interjects saying that he believes that it was all a PR Stunt and Lisa adds on that she agrees and wished that "Moonlight" got ALL of the attention instead of having their moment tainted by a mistake. Wahhh???? Black people getting the short end of the stick because a white person made a mistake. What a brand new phenomenon!
So what do we know about Lisa? She's a black woman. She's a comedian. She has a voice and doesn't feel remise to speak objectively. Swag. Let's continue.
The conversation then changes topics to discuss "Hidden Figures," a fantastic and monumental film about 3 astounding black women sending white men too space. Remember that "most depended" on thing I was talking about earlier? ANYWAY, Babylon talks about he was shocked it got green-lit because he would not have. Then Dann Gire, our resident white man, goes on to give the 3 rules of Hollywood that will ensure bad movie sales.
1. Women being the lead characters
2. If you're dealing with math or science
3. "If it has blacks in the leads" (That's a quote my nigga)
But luckily for "Hidden Figures" they broke that very fair, very unbiased barrier. As a human with a brain I can see how this conversation can be "triggering" for a black women sitting between two men saying smart black women aren't appealing to mass audiences. so what Lisa said next was also not a surprise. Lisa says "I think that's the thing that did it for me. As a black woman (hair flip) I appreciated seeing black women as mathematicians and scientists. I've never seen that in film at that level so I think it was a complete and total game changer. It annihilated all the 3 rules that you're suppose to follow. So it's number one in my book."
To which the people in the comments replied "Who is this chick in the middle? She's a bit irritating" to which someone replied "IKR" and "She's from the Southside."
BITCH IF YOU DON'T GET YO BIG....you know what? Let's keep going.
The topic moves on to host Jimmy Kimmel, which some people loved and some people didn't because that is how opinions work. Apparently, not if you're a black woman. When Lisa says Kimmel was "just ok" a white woman (and yes her race is important) replied "The black lady that is commenting with the braids is terribly annoying, ungrateful, and WRONG. What is wrong with her?"
FUCK IS SHE UNGRATEFUL FOR? See this is where things start to get problematic. I read through ALL of the comments and not once is there a moment where anyone believes any of the men should be "grateful" for anything. Yet there was a swiftness to police "the black lady with braids" the moment she disagrees. Suddenly she's rebellious and something must be wrong with her. There are literally moments where Lisa just isn't smiling and a woman writes "We need her off the show. She is too negative...too ungrateful."
Lisa then goes to defend her claim saying that the way Jimmy Kimmel butchered an Asian woman's name was insulting and it was a mircoaggresion. I mean as a black woman she'd probably know a thing about mircroaggressions but lets keeping going. Everyone else on the panel is like "hey people make mistakes he's a comedian." While people in the comments get more embolden saying things like "TOO NEGATIVE...I don't like her....go home....get her off the set....she needs to go....can they poof the gurl in the middle." Why? Because she just graciously defended another woman?
Let's wrap this up.
Minutes later a new issue arises with the "black woman in braids" even though her name is on the bottom of the screen. Oh shit is that one of those micro-aggressions she was talking about?
"Why is she on her phone???"
"Because she disrespectful"
"She needs to exit stage left"
Jump forward a few more minutes. We see the host Ryan on his phone. Why? Because they are reading the comments on the Facebook Live segment, they only announced that at the beginning. Was anything said about Ryan? Was anyone apologetic to Lisa? Y'all know the answer.
Oh but let's jump to the end.
Here I am thinking, you know what Dewayne, maybe you are bias because this is your friend. And then Black Jesus texted me and said "Nah lil nigga, keep watching." They are now at a section discussing fashion. We get to "South African beauty" Charlize Theron, is it pronounced The-ron, There-in, that is a struggle that Val, the black woman host was having. Because you know as Jimmy Kimmel showed us, people are human and make mistakes. NOT IF YOU'RE A BLACK WOMAN. The same people who were JUST defending Jimmy Kimmel were literally shaming Val saying "come on...pronounce their names right."
I'M WATCHING THIS WITH FLAMES IN MY EYES QUESTIONING EVERYTHING! Have I really been blind to this? How is this so blatantly biased and no one is talking about it? How can she be characterized as being rude and brash yet she is literally fighting to not be talked over? How are there not more black woman serial killers? WHAT THE FUCK SHOULD SHE BE GRATEFUL FOR? Is this what my mother, my sisters, my best friends have to put up with all the time? How are black women so strong? Why are black women forced to be so strong?
I don't have any of the answers. But I couldn't see that and try to not force as many people as I can to ask themselves the same questions. If you see something, say something. And I see my beautiful black sisters, so I'm saying something.