When I turned 12, I moved to Maryland. We lived in a diverse neighborhood. I lived next to white people and black people. When I went to school, it was predominately white. My school back in New York was also predominately white but I hadn't even paid attention until I was living in Maryland. I silently questioned my new surroundings and tried to truly grasp an understanding of the differences in my school. Down there, I felt out of place. I felt different. Yes, I missed my NY friends but there was something more. I was in the midst of a culture shock and my only option was to adapt. Now don't get me wrong, it's not like there were no black people, but for me it was the first time that I lived around so many black and whites on the same street.
By the time I graduated high school, I had made up my mind that I was going to an all black college. My mother wanted me to go to school in Maryland but I felt the need to move down south and be around "my people". So I was off. I enrolled in a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). Horrible choice. Not only did I not learn about my culture, I felt myself spiraling out of control into a pit of self destruction. I didn't feel comfortable around so many black people. I felt judged and like I wasn't good enough, pretty enough!! All of my experiences from my days in NY to my years in MD and ultimately college in NC, really truly shaped my mindset.
Watching Good Morning America yesterday and hearing the presenters announce the nominees I couldn't help but laugh. Post racial America. Back in the 80's and 90's I noticed a clear difference between black and white but wasn't able to really make sense of it. I noticed how some white people were treated over how some black people. I wouldn't call it racism, but there was something there. Going to that HBCU, I was exposed to a world where some black people outwardly shouted their hate for whites. I never felt the same and was always uncomfortable around that type of rhetoric. Some students would say I acted like a white girl. Dark ass Tamieka....a white girl? Now that's funny. Black vs. White...hmmm.
I've always hated to make things about race. Just ask my mother. But when I think about my youth and I think about those nominees, I can't help it. I honestly don't think most white people go out of their way to exclude other races. No, I think they don't care enough to make an effort to learn from others. I don't think most white people take a moment to learn about other cultures and not compare them to their own. (and i'm not talking about learning from libraries and museums...but rather one on one interaction). I don't think most white people understand what it feels like to see Eddie Redmayne and Leonardo Dicraprio get chosen time and again while actors like Michael B. Jordan and Idris Iba get looked over. I don't think most white people care. But so what right? Who cares if the #OscarsSoWhite is trending yet again. If you're reading this you should. I have a bunch of friends from different races and for most of my white friends, I know I'm their only black friend. Crazy. So, if everyday people don't go out of their way to make an effort to know all types of people, why should movie executives?
Looking at the faces of this years nominees and knowing that voters didn't even make an effort to be inclusive doesn't shock me. Back when I was a teenager and subjected to that diversity in my neighborhood, that was a shock. But that was 30 years ago. THIRTY!! I shouldn't be writing about the the exclusion of people of color from the "TOP" award recognition. But, alas I am. I'm not sure that most people will understand what the exclusion signifies. I suspect most will call the voters racists. But, I don't believe that's the right description. Ignorant maybe. Oblivious maybe. Uncaring maybe. Racist? No.
So what's the solution? Well until A list actors and actresses start speaking up, it will be more of the same. Angelina and Brad have multi racial children, I question why they aren't speaking up and out about a movie business that excludes people that look like their children. Haven't heard a peep from Sylvester Stallone who received a nomination for best supporting actor in a movie where he played second fiddle to a black man. Where's Robert Deniro shouting about diversity? He is married to a black woman after all. I mean he must see some semblance of the struggle. Sandra Bullock, I wonder if she wouldn't you like your black children to be raised seeing that anything is possible because they see people that look like them staring back from the screen. Holla if you hear me...
I can't be the only one that thinks this way....I'm Just Saying!!