Oscar's Black Day; DEBBIE JOHNSON - TELLING IT LIKE IT IS: US Is Officially a Racist Free Zone Says the Academy of Motion Pictures and the Arts

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), March 30, 2002 | Go to article overview

Oscar's Black Day; DEBBIE JOHNSON - TELLING IT LIKE IT IS: US Is Officially a Racist Free Zone Says the Academy of Motion Pictures and the Arts


DID you see the Oscars?

Did you notice that a black woman and a black man won the big awards? You know what that means? That racism in America is officially dead.

At least that's what they'd have us believe. The US often appears to be living its life via the means of a film script, and the fact that the Oscars are its biggest cultural event of the year is no surprise.

So, the film script this year goes like this:

Academy Voter 1: "We've been holding these awards for 74 years and we've only given six Oscars to black actors. People might think we're racist." Academy Voter 2: "And that's not a good image for the land of the free ? maybe we should do something about it ? what about Sidney Poitier?" Academy Voter 1: "Yes, great idea. And that Halle Berry and Denzel Washington ? it's about time they got something, don't you think?" Academy Voter 2: "Yes.

Once we were blind, but now we see. There will be no more racism in the United States.

God bless America".

Now, don't get me wrong ? I'm not being so racist myself as to assume that Halle and Denzel only got their awards because of their colour.

Washington has a fine track record and is indisputably of an Oscar-winning calibre. And Halle Berry is supposed to be terrific in Monster's Ball. I'm sure they deserved their little gold men.

But it's the over-the-top reaction that sticks in the throat.

Only the most heartless ? in other words, me ? could feel the urge to gag during Halle Berry's speech.

I felt like I was actually watching a movie then ? one that was manipulating my emotions against my will.

The emotion was obviously genuine, and yes, wow, it is a major achievement. Plus she got to hug Russell Crowe, lucky lady. But the fact that it's taken 74 years; that she sees herself as a 'vessel'; and that these have now been dubbed the Black Oscars just highlights all that is wrong with the system in the first place.

Why should it be about colour?

Why not about their acting?

The fact that the headlines were about their 'African Americanness' rather than their movies shows what a big shock it was to the institutionalised racism in Hollywood. …

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