Entertainment & Culture
Acting Black: Why Jada and Aunt Vivian are beefing.

Damn, dark-skinned Aunt Viv!

It’s only Tuesday and Aunt Vivian is already the odds-on favorite for the “Real Negus of the Week.” If you’re new to NegusWhoRead you should know that once a black actor or actress plays an iconic role, they lose all rights to their name, so I have no idea who the hell Janet Hubert is, but I love Aunt Vivian.

The first Aunt Vivian.

The real Aunt Vivian.

Auntie went so hard on Will and Jada for asking their fellow actors to boycott the Oscars that, for a few minutes, I almost forgot about being pissed about how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences turned the Oscars into the Apartheid Movie Awards.


For the record, I am generally not an advocate for awarding art, because the trophies generally end up going to whatever has the broadest appeal and manages to offend the least amount of people (Hell, both Milli Vanilli and Club Nouveaux have Grammys). There have also been a few years on award shows where I felt there were no black actors who deserved to be nominated. However, after a stellar year for black actors and films, the Academy just said “fuck them niggers” because… well… they’re niggers.

No, seriously.

The problem with getting nominated for an Oscar is that the voting Academy is overwhelmingly white, rich and privileged. Did I mention white? While they might not necessarily be racist (we’ll get to that) it is well-documented that the Hollywood moviemaking contingent is left-leaning and very liberal. No matter how open-minded they may seem from the outside, when  “progressives” see dark skin on a big screen, their benevolent hearts only see two things: Black and victim.

Anything else doesn’t compute in their minds.

Although liberals claim to be pure of heart and unprejudiced, they always see people of color as victims who needing to be saved by the white hero. It’s why that uber-progressive white girl who only wears ballet slippers is always trying to protect you from “microaggressions” that you don’t give a fuck about. You can win an Oscar from liberal voters for playing a slave, a maid, or anyone else who fits into that niggerized acting box, but if you’re not playing a victim — you’re just playing Black, and you don’t get an Oscar for being what you already are. The voting body for the Oscars is 93 percent caucasian. Do you think a 63-year-old white man (the actual demographic of the average Academy voting member) can see the nuances in how Jason Mitchel even replicated the hand and neck movements of Eazy-E? Do you believe any white producer marking ballots from his Mansion in the Hollywood hills understood Corey Hawkins’ portrayal of Dr. Dre down to his chest-poking posture? 

“Straight Outta Compton” was the best damn movie released on film this year. Hands down. If it was about a rock-n-roll roll band and some-white-guy was the star they’d be throwing trophies at F. Gary Gray and the cast like they won the Super Bowl, solved global warming and defeated ISIS with a light saber and the blood of Jesus. (As a writer, I know it would be thematically more impactful if I included the name of a specific actor here, but I don’t know the names of white actors. None of them. They all look alike to me.) Instead, to the Academy of White People’s Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, they were just some black guys from the hood who made a movie about some black guys from the hood becoming famous black guys from the hood. Idris Elba in “Beasts of No Nation” was just a foreign black guy who made a movie about a foreign Black guy. Plus, they already gave a Black guy an award for that movie when Forest Whitaker won for “Last King Of Scotland.” They weren’t gonna do that again while poor Matt damon is stuck on Mars and Jennifer Lawrence is breaking ground playing a lady who invents a mop. Michael B. Jordan in “Creed” was just playing a black guy who can fight. Come on, man, that ain’t even acting.

See, I haven’t mentioned a slave or anyone getting raped yet. If you want white people to nominate a Black actor, there must be at least one scene in the movie where the actor or actress stares blankly into the distance as a lonely tear streams done their face. Or at least you gotta hum a negro spiritual with your eyes closed.

To be a black actor and have white people consider you to be extraordinary, you have to be extremely ordinary. If not, they’ll just give it to Leonardo DiCaprio for (spoiler alert) falling down.

Seriously, did you see “The Revenant?” If not, don’t bother. Dicaprio isn’t even acting in the movie. He doesn’t even have any lines. It’s just a collection of clips of him falling down and shivering. If that motherfucker wins an Oscar, Quentin Tarrantino should jump on stage and pull a Kanye:

“I’mma let you finish, but Samuel L. Jackson in “Hateful Eight” had one of the greatest acting cold performances of all time.”

I only offer one bit of advice to  Jada Pinkett and all the actors who were overlooked this awards season.  Aunt Vivian is kinda right. If you live your life expecting any group that is 93% white to give you anything when it could be given to a person of no color (that’s the politically correct term, right? I mean if we went from “colored” to “people of color,” then…) then you’ll be waiting around for awards until you’re old enough to play the “Magical Black Negro” roles. Ask Morgan Freeman.

Or, maybe we should hold out hope that one day they will all change. One day they might just see the error of their thinking and everything will change. Anything is possible.

Remember — they changed Aunt Vivians.

About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot