Entertainment & Culture
The Case for Hollywood Reparations

By Michael Harriot

After the #OscarsSoWhite embarrassment, painting the mulatto Avatar with brown Kiwi shoe polish to play Nina Simone (Seriously, y’all thought she looked like Nina? Fa’Real???) and continuously casting pasty Europeans as Africans in films like Gods of Egypt, Exodus, et al, Hollywood should be glad Black people patronize them at all.

We know you need us, because we are a disproportionate source of the film industry’s revenue. Think about it. We go see the “white movies” like everyone else, but we are the only ones who go see black movies.  I honestly believe that Black people keep Redbox in business. Netflix was just another streaming service until we made it cool by adding “…& chill” to it. You owe us, Hollywood, and we know it.

As a sign of your penitence, we want reparations. No, we don’t free movie passes, coupons or discounts. We want redress in the form of roles and scenarios in Hollywood movies. Here are 5 things we demand as reparations from the Hollywood studio system for your constant fucking over of Black people:

A Black James Bond I can’t believe y’all haven’t done this yet. Why the pushback? Idris Elba as James Bond would be the greatest thing ever. First of all, the James Bond audience is mostly white and male, and there is nothing white guys believe can hypnotize exotic beauties into lust and loyalty after one piping than Black dick. Besides, who is cooler than Idris Elba? Idris Elba makes Daniel Craig look like Corky from Life Goes On. Aside from the normal James Bond audience, Black women would fill theaters if Idris played 007, because aside from the Holy Ghost and their sororities, nothing is more important to Black women than Idris Elba.

Now that I think about it, did the original novels by Sir Ian McKellen specifically say that James Bond was white? Double-O was a charismatic, pussy hound who bailed white people out of trouble and could fight. Who does that sound like?

We need a Harriet Tubman movie How the hell has there never been a Harriet Tubman movie??? What the fuck, Hollywood? That’s just racist.

I’m not talking about a fictionalized version, because I believe Star Wars: The Force Awakens is just an allegory of the Harriet Tubman story. Think about it, a black drone (slave) escapes the death star (plantation) changes his name and then travels around the galaxy setting other people free. We’re gonna let that one slide, you thieving bastards.

A movie about the bravest, most thugged out Black woman who ever lived would go one step towards making right the wrongs you have committed (We still haven’t forgotten about Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, motherfuckers.). As tired as we are of slave movies (and we are very tired of slave movies) you need to immediately begin production on Leh’ Go – The Harriet Tubman Story.

And just so you know, if you cast Jennifer Lawrence as Harriet Tubman, we’re fucking shit up.

No More White Saviors Even when they make “Black movies” the script usually includes a benevolent white man who comes in to save the poor hapless negroes. Brad Pitt in 12 Years a Slave. Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds. Whoever-that-white-guy-was in Avatar (you know Avatar was about Africa, right? The movie is about a precious metal surrounded by good-hearted natives in tune with nature who still shoot bow and arrows. Where did you think they were talking about–Minnesota?).

Anyway, we’re tired of the white hero swooping in to save us, which is why Birth of a Nation–the new Nat Turner biopic might be the biggest movie ever made. The sheer prospect of watching Black people take machetes to white skulls might make Titanic’s box office look like pocket change. Plus, you have to factor in the fact that nobody’s bootlegging this movie. We want to see this shit on the big screen. Around white people. And then laugh at how nervous they are walking to the parking lot.

One of you are going to have to kill Tyler Perry. Or at least poke him in his movie-making eye. Stop guffawing. We know y’all know how to do it.

We need a Black superhero I’m not talking about that Black Panther or Spawn bullshit. I’m talking Superman, Batman or Spider Man. Basically, I believe all Super heroes are Black anyway.

  • Who is raised by their Aunt and Uncle in New York, gets bitten by an insect, and when their uncle is killed by thugs, they promise to “get them motherfuckas” (a quote from Spider Man, first edition)? A brother, that’s who.
  • Whose father sends him to live with white people in Kansas because their neighborhood is going to hell, but makes sure he has a dope outfit that makes him so fly? A brother, that’s who.
  • Who comes into a bunch of money because their parents are shot when they are kids and the first thing they do is pimp out their basement and buy a dope car? A brother that’s who.
  • Who wears capes? A broth… y’all know the answer.

We need a Black superhero. That is the first step towards repaying all the damage Hollywood has done to Black people. We need these reparations, and we need them now.

Unless you want the world to start staying home with dates watching reruns of Sanford and Son.

We can make “Hulu & Chill” a thing. 

Don’t play.



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

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  • Sega_genesis

    First, give me a moment while I attempt to calm all the “Black jungle juice, come find Harriot and kick his butt, momma said knock you out hoodness” out of my system so I can address this post like someone who is articulate and has some sense.

    Now… a “Black” person who works in the film industry—let me address Mr. Harriot and a large portion of Black people who are once again uninformed about the reality of the “situation in question”.

    Black people and people of color in general are not prevalent in film for two reasons.

    1) People of color make up an insignificant proportion of ticket sales.

    2) People of color make up an insignificant proportion of “talent”.

    Please allow me to elaborate. On the first point; Blacks in particular make up about 15% of movie ticket sales (mpaa).

    Thus, film producers, writers, advertisers would be committing “business” suicide to focus on appeasesing Blacks to the exclusion of their “consistent” revenue market (aka White people).

    Now–as a Black man I believe to have a sort of inate intuition about about how to bring out an afrocentric line of questioning even at the expense of my first point.

    Thus, In particular I might challenge my first point by saying something like “well maybe if ‘they’ put more of us in films than maybe we would come out to see more films”.

    This proposition–in fact leads right into my second point:
    ” 2) People of color make up an insignificant proportion of (talent)”.

    Assuming Blacks would come out and make up a significantly larger percentage of ticket sales—there is an extremely limited amount of “viable” talent available.

    What I mean is this: when a film is being produced; casting directors call on agents to supply talent. Often times there is no initial racial preference, and all actors are welcome to submit.

    However, ultimately it is “talent” that prevails, and often times in film as in many other professions talent is earned. In other words–acting schools and consistently attending developmental classes.

    Black people are just not there. Their presence at this level of the game is miniscule.

    So, its really as if Jayda decided to boycott
    Law firms for the lack of the presence of Black lawyers when the structural issue lies in the fact that Blacks are hardly applying to law school.

    This may not be the perfect analogy, but the point is; again, Blacks have misinterpreted
    the level at which issues affecting their concerns should be addressed.

    If Jayda really had you in mind instead of her hubbys ego—instead of boycotting Hollywood and holding onto her pocket book; she would be leading her wealthy compatriates to fund more developmental classes for Blacks who could attend for free.

    Finally, if Blacks want more representation at the Oscars—-bring your a$$$ out en masse to the movies—I wont until I can get a box of Nestles crunches for about 1.50.

    I promise you–theyll get you another Madea or two.