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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Why Shawn doesn’t want to go to Hollywood Part 2-The Sad state of Affairs of Black Hollywood.

In a previous blog, I detailed all the moral and ethical reasons I didn’t want to be involved with Hollywood. Now I’ll detail why I want nothing to do with Black Hollywood.

Black actors and Black actresses a long time ago were invested in politics. Performers like Dihann Carroll, Harry Bellafonte, and Lena Horne actively participated in the Civil Rights movement. They knew that even though they were famous they were susceptible to the same racism under Jim Crow like the Black man or Black woman on the street. That connection to other Black people made them very conscientious about how they presented themselves in public and how they acted in private.

Moreover, they had a vested interest in controlling how the image of Black people was presented to the rest of the world. They understood that White Supremacists would use the institutions of books, magazines, film, radio, and television to make Black people appear to be ignorant, violent and savage so they could justify their racist Jim Crow laws.

Understanding the power of media and how it shaped how people thought and felt about Black people, most Black entertainers understood that their behavior was not just a reflection of them, but of how all Black people would be represented to the rest of the world. This is why we had so many Black men and Black women acting dignified and graceful and presenting themselves as polished and sophisticated in Black magazines such as Ebony and Jet. They wanted to make an effort to crush the numerous racist stereotypes regarding Black people all over the world.

After the Civil Rights Movement achieved some of its victories, Black entertainers still understood their connection to the Black community and to the brothers and sisters on the block. Stars like Bill Cosby made efforts to help struggling filmmakers like Melvin Van Peebles get a foothold in the entertainment industry by providing financing for Black cinematic classics like Sweet Sweetback’s Badassss Song. Actors like John Amos and Esther Rolle Spoke up about stereotypes on the set of Good Times and kept producers from turning their show into a coonfest. Brothers and sisters in film, publishing, and television worked together towards controlling their image. Most understood that the images people watched of Black people on Television and film had an impact on the young brothers and sisters growing up in the inner city.

Fast forward thirty years later after The Cosby Show and the Golden Age of Black Television which ended after the OJ Simpson trial in 1995 to now. Today Black entertainers are disconnected from the communities of Brothers and sisters they serve. They don’t care about the quality of the content they produce. They don’t care about the messages they send to the young brothers and sisters who pay their salaries by supporting their books, movies and TV shows.

To them those Black people aren’t their brothers and sisters. They aren’t responsible for the messages in their media or the impact their media has on the behavior of those brothers and sisters on the street. In their eyes everyone is an individual. In their eyes there is no racism. They live in a post-racial society where there is no Black and White. Just green, the color of money.

Even though it’s clear to me Hollywood still sees the world in Black and White. And from the media it currently produces it still sees Black people as less than human.

The way I see it, Black Hollywood today is comprised of nothing more than a bunch of Uncle Ruckus Negroes and Handkerchief head Negresses who will degrade themselves for the highest dollar. People who will coon, shuffle and compromise the image of Black people for a paycheck. People who won’t look out for their fellow Black man on the street. People who could care less about how their depictions of Black people they portray impact the brothers and sisters in the community. Individuals who don’t care how their actions impact the Black race on a global scale.

To them a Black man in a dress like Tyler Perry’s Madea Movies is just entertainment. A Black woman being a side piece/mistress to a White Man in a TV show like Scandal is just part of a story. A movie like Monster’s Ball where a Black woman is humiliated by a White man is a love story, and an exploitative movie like Precious is just a story about hope. A patronizing condescending movie like The Help is just a historical film. And rappers like Lil’ Wayne saying they’ll beat up the pussy like Emmitt Till is just a verse in a rap song.

Not understanding the numerous negative messages in the undertones about Black people. In all the media I just described are old Jim Crow stereotypes repackaged for a new generation to imbibe as social norms.

I used to find inspiration in the work of Black performers like Salli Richardson, but I realize there’s no way I could produce the positive images of Black people I want to produce with today’s Black actors. Most lack the self-awareness of Harry Bellafonte, Bill Cosby, John Amos or the Late Lena Horne and Esther Rolle. Looking at how people like Halle Berry, Tyler Perry, Lee Daniels, Kerry Washington Jamie Foxx, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith, LL Cool J, Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Wayne coon for Mr. Charlie, I realize these Negro Shines could care less about how their participation in Hollywood’s new millennium minstrel show effects the thinking of a young brotha or a sista in the neighborhood and how it impacts how Black people are perceived across the globe.

Today’s Black performers and producers are too invested in making some change and buck dancing and coonin’ for Mister Charlie to see that the films, TV shows and music they star in and produce for the masses are just as racist as the White men who wore Blackface in the 1930’s. They have no understanding about the reflexive properties of institutional racism. They have no understanding that when one Black person is depicted acting in a negative fashion it affects ALL BLACK PEOPLE.

People who can justify and condone this type of coonery and promote it as a norm are people I want nothing to do with. Having an understanding of the Hollywood mindset and how it corrupts people I know if I involved myself with these sellouts, I’d eventually become just like them.

Like attracts like. And I’m repulsed and disgusted by the entertainers in Black Hollywood.

The scariest part about selling out is that you don’t know you’ve done it. That was one of the hardest lessons I learned working at the STRIVE program 13 years ago.

In Hollywood one minute you’re on the right side protesting the coonery, and five years later you’re making excuses for the racists. That’s how peer pressure can change a person’s thinking in Hollywood.

Some call that progress. I call it compromise. And as I wrote in The Temptation of John Haynes, that’s the kind of compromise that cost someone their soul.

I know I have to answer to God at the end of the day when this world ends. And he’s going to hold me accountable for my actions. That’s why I want nothing to do with Black Hollywood. Seeing how Hollywood’s perverted way of thinking has corrupted the minds of today’s Black entertainers, I’d hate to wake up one day and see myself twisted into someone who I don’t even know. Someone who can sit there and excuse the most immoral, egregious and reprehensible behavior and justify it as something normal just to make a few dollars.

I’d rather die in poverty than get rich stepping on the backs of my brothers and sisters like the people in Black Hollywood do today.

Yes, I want to write and publish stories that feature positive images of Black people. I want to write stories that inspire and uplift brothers and sisters. Stories that make them think about themselves and how they can have an impact on others. Stories that show them a love and a pride in Blackness, Black culture and being Black.

But I realize I can’t do that in the White Supremacist institution called Black Hollywood. Black entertainers these days are too poisoned with self-hate to work with me in producing work that will show Black people in a positive light. Today’s Black entertainer is a lost disconnected soul out of touch with their history, heritage and their culture. That’s why their work has no heart, no soul and no passion like the work of a generation ago or two generations ago.

In order to create the images of Black people I want to produce, I understand I have to go outside of Hollywood. Sure I may not make a lot of money, but I believe I’ll be able to stay true to my mission and my message. Making sure my work can still retain its heart, soul and its spirit is worth more to me than all the money Hollywood could throw at me to change it.

2 comments:

  1. The issue with Hollywood starts back at the household.

    We can't get mad at Halle Berry and others for cooning and clowning if we don't look at ourselves. Who are the main folks that will flock to see Madea & Scandal? Black folks.

    Now who will insult and even boycott a film that doesn't feature cooning and clowning? You can't keep making money if folks don't go see your product.

    This is what Bill Cosby and others have yelled about for years. Yet no one will listen. And if you try to say something about-you are in the wrong.

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  2. I'll agree with you that it starts at the household.

    All I'm trying to do is educate and inform Black folks about this coonery and how it'll impact them. Maybe if enough of us stop paying money for it, these Shines will stop cooning and buffoning.

    I produce positive books and screenplays. Yet I get ignored. But I have to give people a choice. If brothers and sisters take it, it's on them.

    I'm just saying I will not produce it. Nor will I associate myself with people who produce it. If that makes me poor, then so be it. I'd rather have my integrity than fat pockets. I gave them a choice.

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