Ask an Exotically White Guy: The Oscars

By Samuel Clemens Long

HOW DO YOU SEE RACISM WHERE YOU COME FROM?

Illustration: Eli Neugeboren

I’ll file this one under the “fun flavors of racism.” It’s not American History X kinda stuff but there’s still something there.

I was speaking with a family friend, this is someone from a previous generation so there’s already bound to be some off-color landmines, but this in particular caught my attention.

The Oscars: where Hollywood takes five hours to thank themselves for doing their jobs. But this year in particular a black film won. Who cares? No one (unless you made La La Land). Except, our family friend noticed a pattern. Last year black celebrities made it known that the Oscars are super white and this year a black film won best picture. And our friend didn’t feel that Moonlight deserved the Oscar. Politics had played into the selection. You mean just like politics played into the selection and production of the last [nearly] one hundred years of white filmmaking?

But this rabbit hole gets deeper.

According to our offended party this has happened before. Back in the year 2000 there was a similar cry to make the Oscars less white and sure enough in 2001 both best actor awards went to black people (for the first time in history). Our friend went as far as to say that neither actor deserved those awards. At this point I begged to differ. Halle Berry dug real deep for a very challenging role and Denzel Washington is so good in everything that he’s pretty much the black Meryl Streep of eventual Oscar nods.

It’s not so much that someone sees this pattern that’s exceptional. It was the passion with which they spoke about it. At this point I should clarify: is this person involved in the entertainment industry? No. Is this person financially affected by the outcome of the Oscars? No. Does this person even really give a rat’s ass about the Academy Awards outside of this one issue? Not at all.

So here was have a person who was born, raised, educated and lives in the Midwest, really fired up about the politics of an industry getting talented black filmmakers recognition. It’s not the kind of racism that’s whispered and chuckled about at deer camp. But it’s also not not racism. It’s… interesting.

Questions can be submitted to sam@honeysucklemag.com or #askexoticallywhiteguy.

About Samuel Long 2 Articles
I'm from a small town in the Midwest and now I live in NYC where I'm almost “special exhibit at the Met” white.

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