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The Gravity of a Choice

The Welcome Table

The Story

The actress Mo’Nique has found herself the talk of controversy again. It is now being said that one of the reasons we have seen so little of Mo’Nique since her 2010 Oscar win is because she has been black balled in Hollywood. Lee Daniels, the director of the film for which Mo’Nique won the Oscar, has stated this several times.

In an interview with Don Lemon. Daniels stated that

during the campaign, she was making unreasonable demands, and I remember thinking ‘this is when reverse racism happens.

This behavior, according to Daniels, is the reason Mo’Nique has been black balled. Daniels went on to have this exchange with Lemon:

“This is not just show. It’s show business and you’ve gotta play ball, and you can’t scream—I don’t like calling the race card. I don’t believe in it. If I buy into it, it becomes real. If I knew what I knew when I was 21, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now.

“Some people call that ‘selling out,’” Lemon noted.

“Well, I guess I’m a sellout,” Daniels responded. “But I’m not going to not work, and I’m not going to not tell my truth. And I’m not going to call people out on their bull. So whatever that means, sell out. I’ll see you in the theaters.”

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The Oscars

During Oscar season film studios hold celebrity filled parties in the hopes of influencing the voting in their favor. This usually means having the stars of the films that they have in the running to be present at these parties ready to charm their way into the voters hearts. Recently Oscar campaigning has been placed under the spotlight. Many people are beginning to see it for what is: a desecration of the awards process. The awards should be given to the films that are deemed worthy and not to the film from the studio that threw the best parties and wined and dined the most.

The Oscar campaign has been around so long that it has become par for the course; however, there have been actors that have publicly criticized the tradition. Anthony Hopkins stated:

I find it nauseating to watch and I think it’s disgusting to behold. People groveling around and kissing the backsides of famous producers and all that. It makes me want to throw up, it really does.

Other actors to refuse to campaign are Leonardo DiCaprio, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Fassbender, and Mo’Nique.

The Problem

First and foremost I have to say I am disappointed but not surprised that Lee Daniels believes there is a such thing as reverse racism. I have mentioned before that the term makes no sense because the reverse of racism would be equality. However, Daniels’ belief in it coincides with the rest of rant wherein he makes it plain that he is a minstrel for hire. He is ready to shuck and jive to make himself ‘successful.’

Daniels’ sentiments are common for a Black person of his age. He is of that era in Black history where we believed that if we did everything that White people required of us, we would be granted a seat at The Welcome Table. Those that did get their seat at The Welcome Table believed themselves to be the talented tenth, a elite sect of Black people who had conquered racism and discrimination. And because they believed that they had somehow transcended the burden of their Black skin, they are hugely critical of other Black people and resentful of any who refuse to sell their souls to succeed as they did.

The Oscar campaigning is actually a disgusting aspect of the Oscars tradition. And probably explains while the most reason Oscar season was deemed “the whitest” in decades with not one Black person being nominated. So while Daniels is enjoying his seat at the welcome table, no one else in the Black community is being served.

ee-daniels-monique-e1425012708304The Point

The point is that Daniels’ is full of shit. Mo’Nique was not black balled by Hollywood. She was black balled by him. In his interview he never goes into details about the unreasonable demands that she made; however, Mo’Nique very candidly stated that it was her lack of desire to campaign that caused Daniels’ to say that “People are not going to respond well if you don’t.” In other words he was not pleased by her decision not to campaign and he sought to punish her for it. He had placed offers for her to appear in 3 upcoming films of his and those offers “went away” after Mo’Nique decided not to campaign. But according to Mo’Nique those were the only offers that disappeared. She maintains that the offers did come in and the phone did ring but that the offers were insultingly low for her to be an Oscar winning actress. Mo’Nique doesn’t say – but then does she have to? – that somehow after all her hard work Hollywood was refusing to acknowledge the same way that it has other Oscar winning actresses (most being white). Mo’Nique was just strong enough and convicted enough to not sell herslef short knowing that it wasn’t just about her. Her decision had potential consequences for all Black actresses present and future.

One of the things I have always loved about Mo’Nique is her sincerity and her consciousness. She has always been herself: a Bmore girl. What I liked even more is that she has always struggled to be the best her. Mo’Nique makes a very poignant and profound statement  when she states:

The phone was ringing and the scripts were coming, but the offers that were associated with them made me say ‘I can’t accept that. Because if I accept that and I won the award, what are my sisters being offered that didn’t win the award or wasn’t nominated. And what does it say to the little girl whose not here yet that if we continue to accept these low offers how ever do we make a different and make a change?

I salute Mo’Nique for doing what so many successful Black people never come to realize: that while we are living in an individualistic era in our society, the gravity of one person’s decisions can ground an entire community.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

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