OK. I know that when people have been hurt or oppressed or anything of that sort, they are hypersensitive.
I am hypersensitive as an African American living in America. The American way hasn’t been all that good for African Americans.
Given that hypersensitivity, I have to pull back sometimes when I have a reaction against something that has happened. I have to ask myself if I am overreacting.
Which brings me to the point of this writing. Am I being too sensitive when I object to white people seemingly only thinking a movie is worthy of an award when it shows black people in a bad light?
I saw the movie “Precious,” which grieved my soul to the core. Not only was the story a sad one, albeit powerful, but it struck me because far too many people – black and white – live lives like that. The issue is more often one of poverty and class, not race.
While I was in the theater, I noticed two sets of reactions, and mind you, this was just in the theater where I saw the movie. Black people sat quietly weeping some, shaking their heads, but the white people who sat near me seemed to have no reaction at all, at least not that I could see.
That was interesting.
On the way out of the theater, my friends and I commented that while the movie was good and all, the tragedy is that too many white people think that that way of life is all black people are about. The movie and actresses may all win awards for their work, and they would deserve it , but the fact is that it feels like black people only get awarded for excellence in movies when we act like the white culture thinks we are.
We commented that Denzel Washington, as fine an actor as there is, didn’t win Academy Awards, or even nominations, for all the fine work he’s done … until “Training Day.” In that movie, he was not a good guy, but a tough black guy with issues …and the powers that be, or the people who support the powers that be, were put at ease enough to nominate him.
Then there’s Tiger Woods. His marital infidelity is a problem, and his life has been radically changed, but I am stunned by what I saw this week – a picture of him on the cover of an upcoming magazine taken by Annie Liebowitz. It shows a bare-chested Tiger with a black skull cap on his head, and he looks quite a bit darker than he is. He looks like a convict. I was stunned at the picture. Is it my imagination? Do I need to wait until the magazine comes out to get a clearer picture?
Why do I not think I am overreacting? Why do I feel the picture was designed to make people think of him as a bad guy … an image that people are more comfortable with when it comes to black people? The commentator was remarking that the image certainly helps us get rid of the image of Tiger as a good guy. He suggested that the picture begs the question of whether or not Tiger uses or used steroids. A picture inside the magazine shows Tiger doing pull-ups, and the commentator again cast a shadow of disapproval. “Certainly, golfers don’t do that,” he said.
Excuse me? Tiger is a young man; all young people, or most of them, are body-conscious. They live in the gym. Why in the world is it a point of contention if this young man wants to stay in shape?
Then there was the horrible story of the young white boy who was set on fire by his friends, but no mention of the young African American boy who was also set on fire earlier in 2009 by his friends – who happened to be white.
It exhausts me, the way racism works in this country, and it exhausts me to always have to step back and wonder if I am overreacting of if what I am seeing is accurate and my feelings justified.
There is still so much work to be done. The disease called racism has spread all over the soul of America. It is truly part of the legacy of this country.
And that’s a candid observation.