I decided to wait before I put up this blog post because I didn’t want to rain on anybody’s happiness. We deserve to be happy at the fact that Fences, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, and all the other Black actors, directors, producers, writers, movies and TV shows are being rewarded for their success. After talking about how much the “MFs Never Loved Us” for two years straight, the fact that now our art is receiving the most recognized awards in the industry should be a cause for celebration right? We should be proud now right? The MFs Love Us Now right? Ummm…not quite…
Let’s think about what happened at the Oscars when Moonlight won the Oscar for Best Picture. There was a big mix-up where it looked like white supremacy would win out again, the MFs still didn’t love us, and we would all be furiously typing out our think pieces for the next day. I myself was cussing before the stars of LaLa Land even walked on the stage. And then, something magical happened. A beautiful film about a Black queer person’s experience literally stole an award from a bland movie about white people appropriating Jazz music. It was great. What wasn’t great was what happened after that: every article about Moonlight winning was just as much (if not more) about LaLa Land losing and the mix-up. Even what should have been a triumphant moment for Black (queer) cinema STILL ends up centering whiteness, and we as an audience were denied of more beautiful moments like this for a bunch of flabbergasted white people looking crazy on stage. This is just one way that these MFs in the movie industry show how much they hate us even when they seem like they’re showing the opposite.
I’ve seen far too many people champion the wins at the Oscars as a turning point. “Finally they are rewarding us! We matter!” But one year does not a change in pattern make. Like how race swapped superheroes are easily turn back to white ones, predominately white awards shows easily turn back white AF. We all saw what happened with the Grammys: Bey (AND Rihanna) got snubbed for what is arguably their best work to date. We all saw that even as Black actors won (well deserved) awards a disgusting and mediocre white man like Casey Affleck was still rewarded over one of the best Black actors of our time. Sure, we may have raked in the awards this Oscars, but what about next year? We know we have more quality films and TV in the form of stuff like Get Out and Queen Sugar, we’ll just have to see if they get their just due. Only when it is proven that Hollywood has actually changed their stripes can we say that things have changed, and only when things truly change can we say if the MFs really love us or not. And honestly, we should ask how much we care.
Now I’m not gonna end another post with preaching about why it is important to support the spaces that support us. I understand much more fully than I ever have before why people fight for spaces in the mainstream. Some people have to fight for infiltration all the while others are building tools for extraction. What I am going to end this with is a reminder that we must not let the battle for recognition blind us from the important things here: Black people getting to tell their stories. I’ve seen the articles about the elevation of Black British actors over Black American actors and while yes, Black British people may have different opportunities because of their training, ingrained white supremacy that sees Black people that are British as closer to whiteness, and opportunity to break out of stereotypical roles, let’s not pretend like Black American actors don’t play African characters all the time (how many Black American actors have played Nelson and Winnie Mandela?). My point here is that we must remember the point here: all creatives are trying to tell authentic stories of people who have been consistently pushed to the margins, and we must not allow greed or thirst for awards to affect that. If the MFs still don’t love us, we must love each other.