Just ahead of Sunday night’s ceremony, I’ve been doing some thinking about this "historic" year for Black people at the Oscar’s. With a record 5 nominations, a chorus of voices (including Newsweek) are arguing, again, that barriers are being broken. I wrote Race for the Oscars, posted over at COLORLINES, to argue that getting behind the glam of the red carpet and symbolism historic firsts, we see a Hollywood still fractured along the color line. A preview:
And I am Telling You, I Don’t Buy It. It’s true; Oscar night does play an important symbolic role. Awarding Black actors allows Hollywood a moment to exhale. A brief period to release the nasty burden of criticism surrounding a highly inequitable film industry while rehearsing popular stereotypes and congratulating roles that comfort anxieties held by the larger society. Black people, in turn, look to one of our own receiving the award as a mark of progress; if we are accepted and applauded on the red carpet, why not off? The gleam of Oscar is a welcome distraction from the truth that life for Black folks in Hollywood and beyond is cause for more rage than rejoicing.