But the day before, even more people – 43 – were shot to death in cities and towns around the country. And nobody really seemed to notice.
Shootings kill more than 36,000 Americans each year. Every day, 90 deaths and 200 injuries are caused by gun violence. Unlike terrorist acts, the everyday gun violence that impacts our communities is accepted as a way of life.
As public health scholars who study firearm violence, we believe that our country is unique in its acceptance of gun violence. Although death by firearms in America is a public health crisis, it is a crisis that legislators accept as a societal norm. Some have suggested it is due to the fact that it is blacks and not whites who are the predominant victims, and our data support this striking disparity.
Urban and racial disparities
Within the United States, the odds of dying from firearm homicide are much higher for Americans who reside in cities. Twenty percent of all firearm homicides in the U.S. occur in the country’s 25 largest cities, even though they contain just over one-tenth of the U.S. population. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that of the 12,979 firearm homicides in 2015, 81 percent occurred in urban areas.
There is even more to the story: CDC data also show that within our nation’s cities, black Americans are, on average, eight times more likely to be killed by firearms than those who are white. The rate of death by gun homicide for black people exceeds those among whites in all 50 states, but there is tremendous variation in the magnitude of this disparity. In 2015, a black person living in Wisconsin was 26 times more likely to be fatally shot than a white person in that state. At the same time, a black person in Arizona was “only” 3.2 times more likely than a white person to be killed by a gun. The combination of being black and living in an urban area is even more deadly. In 2015, the black homicide rate for urban areas in Missouri was higher than the total death rate from any cause in New York state.
These differences across states occur primarily because the gap between levels of disadvantage among white and black Americans differs sharply by state. For example, Wisconsin – the state with the highest disparity between black and white firearm homicide rates – has the second-highest gap of any state between black and white incarceration rates, and the second-highest gap between black and white unemployment rates. Racial disparities in advantage translate into racial disparities in firearm violence victimization.
Americans are 128 times more likely to be killed in everyday gun violence than by any act of international terrorism. And a black person living in an urban area is almost 500 times more likely to be killed by everyday gun violence than by terrorism. From a public health perspective, efforts to combat firearm violence need to be every bit as strong as those to fight terrorism.
The first step in treating the epidemic of firearm violence is declaring that the everyday gun violence that is devastating the nation is unacceptable. Mass shootings and terrorist attacks should not be the only incidents of violence that awaken Americans to the threats to our freedom and spur politicians to action.
On a damp October day in 2006, I followed Kazuo Ishiguro and my 10-year-old daughter Grace to a back table at a bustling cafe in London for an interview. As Ishiguro answered my questions, he explained how he “auditions” his characters’ voices and personalities in his head before they appear in his fiction. He spoke candidly about a writer’s messy work.
Now he is the laureate for the Nobel Prize in literature, for what the Swedish Academy praised as his unapologetic portrayals of “the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.”
It’s a nod to the self-delusion that many of Ishiguro’s characters possess. One, for example, rationalizes his service to a fascist loyalist. Others see their past through the cloudy lens of trauma. If we were to peel back the warped self-deception, we might find a bottomless pit of despair.
At that interview years ago, Ishiguro talked about his characters’ painful chasms, the way they protected themselves by concealing their mistakes. But when everything seems hopeless, his characters often courageously turn to their imagination to forge a connection to life and meaning.
In doing so, they beckon readers to imagine something better, too.
When I asked Ishiguro about his 2005 dystopic novel “Never Let Me Go,” his tone shifted. He lowered his voice when he told me about the students in that novel, and how they eventually perish. But he was surprised when I said that I found the novel sorrowful.
“There is an inevitable sadness,” he admitted. “On the other hand, it’s not a bleak view of human nature.”
I could sense Ishiguro’s concern for how my daughter might take his observations about death and despair.
He continued: “The question, ‘What are we useful for?’ is the question that your daughter Grace asks, and one Tommy and Kathy ask in ‘Never Let Me Go.’ Some cold system says to Tommy and Kathy that they will be useful [to the world], and it’s the same as another system saying to Grace that someday she will be useful to the world economy.”
Human systems figure in all of Ishiguro’s novels, whether these are governments, communities or families. Often, these systems are damaged, and humans still must move through them. They try to repair them or save themselves. Ishiguro has examined many facets of what it means to live among and within countless systems.
The first-person narrators of Ishiguro’s first three novels, “A Pale View of Hills,” “An Artist of the Floating World” and “The Remains of the Day,” reflect on personal losses in the context of world events: friends and families dead from atomic bombings in Japan, unrealized romances, wrong choices and lives founded on delusion. These characters long for clarity, retribution or forgiveness.
The narrators of his next three novels are, variously, a pianist (“The Unconsoled”), a London detective (“When We Were Orphans”) and a roving hospice-type worker (“Never Let Me Go”). Whether they’re situated in Japan, Great Britain, some unnamed European city or even a medieval village, Ishiguro’s characters beguile his readers with their disclosures. His eloquent prose expresses their anguish or their repressed longings. We sense time passing darkly for these characters. We see how they face disappointments and ache for dignity.
Ishiguro explained that to probe the emotional force of his novels, we must understand that the characters are set within “an internal world [and] it’s an emotional logic that is being played out.”
In narrating their sorrows and their fruitless optimism, Ishiguro gives his readers a way to empathize with his characters’ situations.
Ishiguro’s capacity for compassion was cultivated during his university gap year, when he worked with the homeless. He also studied piano and guitar and dreamed of a career in music before he detoured to the creative writing program at the University of East Anglia. He still writes musical lyrics and works with musicians as an avocation.
By his own admission, Ishiguro is a slow writer; he produces a novel every few years. In 2015, when he came to Denver’s Lighthouse Writers Workshop to promote his latest novel, I was able to catch up with him. He remarked that he may have only a couple more books forthcoming.
“We’re not immortal,” he said. “We’re here for a limited time. There is a countdown.”
The Swedish Academy honors a laureate for a lifetime of achievement. To date, Ishiguro has published eight books as well as many short stories, television and film scripts. His career may seem disjointed when focusing on only the best-known novels, “The Remains of the Day” and “Never Let Me Go.”
But few contemporary authors have dared to take as many risks as Ishiguro. The more complicated, Kafka-esque novel “The Unconsoled” is a book some critics called disappointing. A different sort of writer might have quit, but Ishiguro persisted.
Similarly, even though some readers responded coolly to “The Buried Giant,” Ishiguro had taken yet another literary leap: The highly metaphorical story is set in an early English era that predated historical records. Memory, repression of pain and the resolve to protect oneself and loved ones return as themes, but in unusual, allegorical ways.
Each novel is a singular achievement; each successive undertaking enriches a broader canvas of Ishiguro’s portraits of alienated lives.
During that 2006 London interview, I watched Ishiguro banter with my daughter during a break. They were laughing about what it means to “snarf” food, and they were picking up some biscuits and spooning melted ice cream to demonstrate. Ishiguro’s ease and humor when speaking with my child captivated me.
In spite of the sadness in his books, Ishiguro is a gracious guardian of humanity. He is a fine curator of emotions and a skilled storyteller.
We don’t know how many more books Ishiguro will publish. But we can be certain that in his literary explorations, he will remain undaunted.
The first trailer for Star Trek:Discovery is out, and it’s everything I’d hoped it would be and more!
Long-time sci-fi fans who also happen to be women of color know just how rare it is to see a woman of color in the Captain’s Chair. With Star Trek, the closest we’ve gotten is Lt. Nyota Uhura, who manned the communications for the Enterprise. She wasn’t a captain (until much, much later in the Star Trek canon), but she was on the bridge, showing young girls that they too could shoot for the stars (even if you’d only end up hitting the clouds).
This go round, we have female captain and a female first officer in Star Trek: Discovery. Michelle Yeoh plays Captain Georgiou and Sonequa Martin-Green plays Commander Michael Burnham. Here’s more about the show from ExtremeTech:
“Star Trek: Discovery is set ten years before the events of the original series and takes place in the original timeline, not the alternate future the Romulan Nero created when he traveled back in time, killed George Kirk, and later destroyed Vulcan. Its lead character is Commander Michael Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Unlike previous Star Trek shows, Discovery won’t deliberately focus on the captain (or space station commander) as its protagonist. Her nickname, “Number One,” is a delibarate homage to the character of the same name from the Star Trek pilott “The Cage,” as played by Majel Barrettt. Burnham is human, but was raised on Vulcan by Vulcans, which explains some of the setting of this trailer.”
What I love about this first look and synopsis, aside from it just being Star Trek, is that it seems like there will be (or there is the potential for there is to be) a nuanced look at race, culture, and the push and pull of the two. All of this seems to be embodied in Martin-Green’s character. Of course, in the future, everyone’s post-racial to a degree. But Since we’re in 2017, I like how Burnham is a black woman who is 1) not defined by an American stereotype of “blackness,” and 2) has a struggle between her humanness and her cultural upbringing on Vulcan. I think this type of character could appeal to many audience members who have grown up wrestling with parts of their identity that society wants to put at odds with each other; maybe the most analogous situation is a trans-racial adoptee who recognizes that they are not the same race as their parents, but have grown up in their parents’ culture instead of the culture everyone expects from them.
On the whole, though, it’s just fun to see two women running the show. Both actors have proven themselves time and again (Yeoh in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon among her other films, Martin-Green’s character Sasha on The Walking Dead), and it’s so rewarding to see two women of color hold down the fort in a genre that is still dominated by white men. I can’t wait to see them in action.
What do you think about Star Trek: Discovery? Give your opinions in the comments section below! Star Trek: Discovery debuts with a two-part season premiere this fall on CBS, with the full season airing on CBS All Access.
It’s already a cliche to say this, but Into the Badlands Season 2 showed up Iron Fist in nearly every way possible. If there Hollywood needed an example of how to make an inclusive martial arts-based action show that doesn’t appropriate cultures but actually respectfully melds cultures together into something new and original, then Into the Badlands is that much-needed example.
Did that sentence confuse you? Let me just break down what I’m trying to say in some bulleted points while telling you what you need to know about the jaw-dropping Season 2 premiere.
• The beginning didn’t linger.
I hope you had your Into the Badlands DVDs or On Demand players handy to catch up on the first season, since the show didn’t waste any time jumping back into the story and the action, and that’s great, because while the show’s story is fantastic, the biggest selling point are the extensive, thought-out, creative fight scenes.
We’ve dropped in on Sunny (Daniel Wu, who is also one of the show’s executive producers) after being transported to a slave colony to work in the mines. Gone are the days of being a Clipper (aka an upper-tier slave), and now, all Sunny cares about is getting out of the mines and back to Veil (Madeleine Mantock) and his new baby. And hopefully to get back on the right terms with Veil, since his role in her parents death is…dubious.
(Look, let’s get this out of the way right now in this huge aside; Sunny didn’t kill Veil’s parents. BUT, he did stand by while Quinn (Martin Csokas) killed them with Sunny’s sword. BUT, Quinn also threatened to kill Sunny. BUT, Sunny can totally take down Quinn, and he didn’t. BUT, Sunny was just waking up to the system as it is and he didn’t realize he was a slave until he realized he wanted more for his life, particularly because of his relationship with Veil. As you can see, the circular argument can go on and on. But bottom line is that he didn’t kill Veil’s parents, but he didn’t stop Quinn due to self-preservation and, to be blunt, selfishness. He wanted to be around to be with Veil, and he didn’t really think enough about Veil’s parents to realize he needed to stop Quinn from killing what could have become his own extended family. However, how did he think he could go explain this to Veil??? Not to be glib, but he didn’t think the “I’ll stand by like my hands are tied” thing through at all.)
At any rate, Sunny wants to get his family back and find his redemption. Right now, it seems like he could and he couldn’t; his new bunkmate frenemy Baijie (newcomer to the show Nick Frost) sold him out in order to try to secure his own freedom, but Sunny already had a plan before Baijie ratted him out; Sunny wants to try to take out the big wrestler of the group in order to become the new head of the slave food chain and, possibly, get his chance to escape.
HOWEVER, before we even get to Sunny making a plan, we immediately see Sunny try to escape from the first few minutes of the show. IT WAS INTENSE! THIS IS HOW YOU START AN ACTION SHOW!
• The diversity and badassery of the Into the Badlands‘ women
I can honestly say that this is one show that treats its women with respect. (Except for that one woman Baijie straight-up punched unconscious just to get a ring to buy his freedom. Baijie should know better than that.)
Overall, the women on Into the Badlands have thoroughly impressed me, even more so this season. One criticism that some, including Mediaversity Reviews, pointed out is that despite the presence of Veil and the awesomeness of The Widow, the show was centered around white feminism. (Li of Mediaversity Reviews also breaks down just how diverse the main cast is, which is that it’s pretty diverse and more multicultural on an individual-by-individual basis than I initially gave the show credit for. For instance, Mantock is black, Hispanic, and white, not just black as I alluded to in my recent Into the Badlands article. My bad.)
However, one of this season’s mission statements seems to be to correct that oversight, since this season, we’re seeing a much more diverse range of women, including The Master, played by Chipo Chung, who is Asian and black and the most powerful person on the show, period. As many online have noted, the show seems to be a masterclass for Marvel on how to 1) create a show with a POC Iron Fist and 2) how to simultaneously make an Iron Fist with Asian heritage and a proper female Ancient One that doesn’t appropriate the culture she’s supposed to be a part of (and, again, is an Ancient One with Asian heritage). She’s everything we wanted both Iron Fist and the Ancient One to be.
And Tilda (Ally Ioannides), who was just The Widow (Emily Beecham)’s daughter, has now been elevated to Regent. And her crew is also amazing.
— Rebecca Theodore (@FilmFatale_NYC) March 20, 2017
And another upcoming new baron, Baron Chau, looks like she can f*** some people up good-fashioned. I can’t wait to see her fight scenes, especially if she has fight scenes against The Widow. (She’s got to have some fight scenes against The Widow.)
— Into the Badlands (@IntotheBadlands) March 18, 2017
• A diversity masterclass for other shows
Yes, the show’s Season 2 premiere had a serendipitous moment by coming on during the same weekend as Iron Fist‘s premiere, simultaneously one-upping it and showing it how it’s really done when it comes to the martial arts game. But the show is a masterclass for any new series looking to infuse cultures together without appropriating or otherwise offending its audience.
This is something that was taken seriously last year, as evidenced by the whole spiel Wu had about rewriting Romeo Must Die through Sunny and Veil, but this year, the crew has taken their commitment to diversity even more seriously than before. We have the examples of the women above, but we also have just the worldbuilding in general. In every scene, you have a multicultural world which reflects the show’s multicultural audience. The world itself doesn’t particularly rest on whiteness as a default or as a power play, something I originally thought the show was using in the first season with Quinn’s family, coupled with the fact that Quinn and The Widow were the only barons we saw until the introduction of Edi Gathegi’s Jacobee (I still wish we saw more of Jacobee).
We’re also getting yet another baron; along with Chau, we’re also getting Baron Hassan, and the two of them together have opened up the baron game in the vein of Jacobee; anyone can be a baron, and knowing that anyone can attain that kind of power is refreshing, and in its own way, subversive, since the power everyone’s battling over is the same original sin that started America in the first place–slavery. It’s interesting that even though the America Into the Badlands inhabits is a post-apocalyptic type of America, it’s still a country that wrestles with the concept of power through owning others.
— Into the Badlands (@IntotheBadlands) March 18, 2017
• Surprises on surprises on surprises
We had the surprise of the Master being who she is, the surprise of The Widow upping her game this season (her big set piece was amazing to view, and I could watch that over and over again), and the surprise of Veil finally having her baby. But the biggest surprise was seeing QUINN AS VEIL’S CARETAKER! What kind of Frankenstein nonsense is happening right now?! We all thought he was dead! What is he doing with Veil and Veil’s baby?! Also, is he trying to seek redemption as well, or is he trying to regain his power to take on his son Ryder (Oliver Stark), who is now the new baron?
Overall, I’m PUMPED! I can’t wait to see where the rest of this season is taking us! What did you think of the first episode? Give your opinions in the comments section below!
Riverdale Episode 4| “The Last Picture Show”| Aired Feb. 16, 2017
It’s been a week since the episode “The Last Picture Show” aired, but I’ve been sitting on this gripe for too long, and I’ve got to let it out now, even if it might be old news. Ms. Grundy can never come back, because that plot line was the worst thing ever.
Let’s go over why it was the worst thing ever: Chiefly, it was because Ms. Grundy (or whatever her real name is, since the actual Ms. Grundy died years ago) is a full-fledged predator. Technically, she’s a ephebophile, someone who is attracted to “pubescent or post-pubescent youths,” but regardless, she’s a predator taking part in illegal activity. As a character, Archie has always been 16 years old, and as such, he’s clearly under the legal age for a relationship with an adult. So when Mrs. Cooper did her darnedest to get Ms. Grundy arrested and sent to jail, I applauded her for it. Ms. Grundy deserves to go to jail.
Throughout she and Archie’s “relationship,” Ms. Grundy has always been creepy, to say the least. Not only was she having an illegal dalliance with an underage teenager, but she used that relationship to emotionally control him. I’d go so far as to say that she emotionally abused him. She kept him from telling anybody about what he knew about the gunshot heard on the day of Jason’s death, and then she kept him from questioning her about her false identity too much by revealing how her ex-husband had abused her, a story I don’t believe. It was all too convenient, and anything she said that was supposed to get us on her side went out the window once she stared those muscular guys (who looked like either old-looking, muscular teens or just muscular young 20-year-olds) as she was getting in her car to leave town.
Overall, the handling of the plotline was quite irresponsible and excused criminal behavior as just a “lapse in judgement or a “bad decision.” Ms. Grundy not only had sex with a minor (which I again remind you is a jailable offense), but she also stole another woman’s identity. On top of all of that, she had a gun in her car, possibly evidence in the Jason Blossom case. There’s literally no way Ms. Grundy should be able to escape town on literally no charges.
There could be an argument made of this being a case of “white woman sympathizing,” as in Ms. Grundy being allowed white privilege by the script (consciously or unconsciously) in order to escape going to jail. But I think it’s more likely just overzealous writing. It was a case of trying to get every kind of “OMG”moment in the show instead of judiciously picking the types of moments that actually advanced the story. The Ms. Grundy-Archie plotline might have made for eyebrow-raising headlines in order to get people to tune in to the pilot, but once that plot played its only card, it was over. It quickly became a meandering and ultimately squandered story.
Riverdale writers: You overreached mightily on this one. The show is already an edgy teen drama; you guys don’t have to go overboard to try to convince us of this show’s juicy dramatic qualities. I mean, this show is a freaking murder-mystery—there are tons of secrets to uncover. All y’all have to do is just tell us the story in a fun, sometimes campy, yet convincing way. That’s all I require.
Above all, please don’t let Ms. Grundy come back. But, if she does, then she has to go to jail. If she’s able to escape scot-free a second time, I don’t think I’ll be able to handle it at all.
Netflix is trying to step up their movie game, and it would seem they are on the right track with their acquisition of Where the Road Runs Out. The film, directed by Rudolf Buitendach and starring Isaach De Bankolé, is a history making film; it’s the first film to be shot in Equatorial Guinea.
The film has impressed audiences across the indie circuit. As the press release states, “the indie has also won awards at Sunscreen film Festival, Helsinki African Film Festival, and has also featured and been warmly received at the Pan African film festival, AFI Silver and Heartland film festivals.”
The film looks like it’ll be one you’ll have to put in your queue when Netflix releases it next year. Take a look at the poster and the press release in its entirety below.
WHERE THE ROAD RUNS OUT, the first film to ever shoot in Equatorial Guinea, picked up by Fairway Film Alliance, has been acquired by Netflix for US and partial foreign (Canada, The UK, Australia, New Zealand and English speaking African countries) distribution. The film, which premiered at and won best narrative film at the San Diego film festival in 2014, is directed by Rudolf Buitendach and stars Isaach De Bankole, Juliet Landau, Stelio Savante and Sizo Matsoko.
SYNOPSIS: A Rotterdam-based respected scientist and lecturer (Isaach De Bankole) has grown weary of the world of academia. The sudden death of an old friend who has been running a field research station in Africa gives him the incentive he needs to turn his back on his academia and return to his African roots. Arriving in Equatorial Guinea he finds the field station in a state of disrepair. Through a local boy Jimi, his jaded eyes are opened to the possibilities of life there. Jimi also introduces him to Corina (Juliet Landau) who runs the local orphanage and a tentative but heartfelt romance begins. With the unexpected arrival of George’s old friend Martin (Stelio Savante), George discovers there are many obstacles on the road to redemption… and many more where the road runs out.
Lensed in Equatorial Guinea, South Africa and the Netherlands; the indie has also won awards at Sunscreen film Festival, Helsinki African Film Festival, and has also featured and been warmly received at the Pan African film festival, AFI Silver and Heartland film festivals.
NETFLIX is planning for an early 2017 release in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and English speaking African countries. The deal was brokered by US Distribution/Production Company Fairway Film Alliance and Ocean Avenue Entertainment (Chris Bueno).
Fairway Film Alliance is a Los Angeles based full service independent film sales agency and production company, founded by long time indie film veteran, Marty Poole. Fairway Film Alliance along with Rogue Arts has distributed or produced films that have appeared in the Sundance Film Festival, Slamdance Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, and Toronto Film Festivals. Earlier in 2016, Lionsgate released Fairway Film Alliance’s family film Army Dog starring Casper Van Dien, Grace Van Dien and Stelio Savante.
TONS of Oscar news, I tell ya! Tons of it! The battle for diversity in the Oscar nominations has gotten bigger than anyone thought it would get (including me, which might surprise you—I vacillate between cynicism and optimism) . Here’s what’s been happening so far.
•Will Smith will not attend the Oscars after all. You can read more about his comments at Entertainment Weekly, but just know that during his Good Morning America exclusive he said these points: 1) he didn’t know about his wife’s plan to release a video, 2) he feels his wife would have made a video whether or not he was nominated (despite his concession that perhaps the lack of a Concussion nomination was the catalyst for Pinkett Smith’s feelings), and 3) this issue is about more than him and Concussion; it’s about the whole industry.
• Mark Ruffalo heavily weighed not going to the Oscars over the course of Thursday. First, he said to BBC News that he was considering joining the boycott, saying, “I woke up in the morning thinking, what is the right way to do this? Because if you look at Martin Luther King’s legacy, what he was saying was, the good people who don’t act are much worse than the people, the wrongdoers that are purposely not acting and don’t know the right way.” Later on Twitter, Ruffalo gave his final decision and his reasoning:
To clear up any confusion. I will be going to the Oscars in support of the victims of clergy Sexual Abuse and good journalism. #Spotlight
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) January 21, 2016
I do support the Oscar Ban movement’s position that the nominations do not reflect the diversity of our community.
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) January 21, 2016
The Oscar Ban movement reflects a larger discussion about racism in the criminal justice system.
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) January 21, 2016
Correction. I hope the Oscar Ban movement opens the way for my peers to open their hearts to the #BlackLivesMatter movement as well.
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) January 21, 2016
50 Cent and Tyrese Gibson want Chris Rock to boycott the Oscars, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. But personally, I want Chris Rock to host and slay the game. Embarrassing the Academy on live television is the type of righteous pettiness I can get behind.
• Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o, and Quincy Jones are among other actors who are calling for more diversity in the Oscar voting pool. Davis, who was nominated for her role in The Help (a role indicative of the kind of roles the Oscars nominate for black people), said that the Oscar issue is indicative of a much larger societal problem. To quote The Hollywood Reporter:
“It’s not the Oscars. The Oscars are a symptom of a much greater issue and that’s the issue of the Hollywood movie-making system. How many more movies are being made that have this in it,” she asks as she points to the color of her skin. “More films need to be made wher we can shine. That’s the bottom line. The opportunity does not match the talent. There needs to be more opportunity, that’s just it. And you have to invest in it.”
Nyong’o, who won for her role in 12 Years a Slave (a slave role, another type the Oscars love for black people), posted this on Instagram:
Jones, who is the first black person to be added to the Academy board of governors, said to the National Association of Television Program Executives conference Wednesday that said he intends to address the diversity issue with the AMPAS board next week. “I’m going to ask the board to let me speak for five minutes on this lack of diversity. We’ve got to find a solution. It’s been going on for too long,” he said, according to Variety.
Brie Larson threw her support behind #OscarsSoWhite with this Instagram post:
Reese Witherspoon also called for more attention to the nominations outrage, writing on Facebook (and lauding TIME Magazine):
• Other actors are furthering the diversity discussion by talking more about the industry at large. Idris Elba recently spoke to British Parliament about the lack of roles for black British actors, saying “Talent is there, opportunity isn’t, [a]nd talent can’t reach opportunity”(you can read the transcript here). On Twitter, Elba called the speech “the mot important speech I ever made.”
— Idris Elba (@idriselba) January 18, 2016
Nate Parker, who is playing slave rebel leader Nat Turner in the upcoming film Birth of a Nation (a film he wrote, produced and directed), said that too many of the roles for black men lack “integrity.” “As a black man, you leave auditions not hoping you get the job but wondering how you explain it to your family if you do,” he said to The Hollywood Reporter. “Historically, and this is truly my feeling, generally speaking we as black people have been celebrated more for when we are subservient, when we are not being leaders or kings, or being in the center [of] our own narrative driving it forward.”
Dustin Hoffman told BBC News (as reported by The Hollywood Reporter) that that lack of inclusion with Oscar noms is indicative of America’s racist history, calling it “subliminal racism.”
“In our country, there’s a subliminal racism, and it’s been there…the end of the Civil War didn’t change that,” he said on the red carpet of the National TV Awards. “It’s only been 200 years, this is just an example of it.” He also said, “Other than black entertaiiners being nominated, there’s a bigger problem with young black individuals being killed on our streets by police. That’s a bigger problem.”
• The Los Angeles Times has also addressed that it’s not just black people denigrated by the lack of Oscar nominations and the industry; the Times‘ Susan King points out that it’s been 54 years since a Latina won an Oscar, and an Asian actress hasn’t won in 58 years. Ben Johnson, of Cherokee and Irish descent won an Oscar in 1971, and no other indigenous person who was nominated for an Oscar has won since.
• Some of the Oscar voters themselves have come out to The Hollywood Reporter on the defensive, with some saying that they feel it’s unfair to imply that they are racist (even though no one applied the word “racist” and the consensus doesn’t account for a more nuanced reading of the outrage fans and other Oscar voters have). Others have also said that the battle should be with the industry, not with them.
• Despite what some of the offended Oscar voters are saying, many of the current and former Academy brass are working on getting their members in check. Academy CEO Dawn Hudson had an op-ed published in The Hollywood Reporter, stating that this moment in time is an “inflection point.” To quote a piece:
“There’s not one part of the industry that doesn’t need to be addressed, and it’s been this way for 25 years. The needle has hardly moved. It’s cultural, it’s institutional, it’s our society at large, it’s our education system–all of it–before you get to an industry that’s supposed to reflect this beautiful world. And the indstury has been building up over a very log time, starting with white men running the studios who hire other people who look like them. It hasn’t changed that much, and it won’t until there’s a concerted effort on every single front: talent, the executives in the studios, the people we mentor.”
The former Academy president, Hawk Koch, wrote in a passionate open letter to the Hollywood industry (published in The Hollywood Reporter) that a boycott won’t solve anything, but changing the industry will. Quoting the letter:
“…[C]learly our industry needs to do more to find and develop talent in all the crafts. We must work with the Unions and the Guilds as well as schools across the country to identify and cultivate the talent of African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, women, LGBTs, the disabled an all under represented gropus. And then we have to allow them access to every single aspect of filmmaking.”
All of this and more will probably be discussed this Tuesday when AMPAS will meet for a routine meeting next Tuesday. One of the governors told Entertainment Weekly that “[i]t promises to be a long and adventuresome night.”
News about #OscarsSoWhite is still developing as we speak, so we’ll see what happens in the coming days.