NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 6

My Take When asked his thoughts on being snubbed for an Oscar in the Best Actor category this year for his role as Dr. Martin Luther King in the movie, Selma, British actor David Oyelowo said during an interview in Santa Barbara, in January, 2015: 4 “Historically, and this is truly my feeling generally speaking, we as black people have been celebrated more when we are subservient, when we are not being leaders or kings, or being in the center of our own narrative driving it forward. To me,” he went on too say, “Denzel Washington should’ve won (the Oscar) for playing Malcom X. This bears out what I’m saying, which is, we just got to come to the point whereby there isn’t a self fulfilling prophecy, a notion of who black people are that feeds into what we’re celebrated as. Not just in the academy, but in life generally. We have been slaves,” Mr. Oyelowo continued, “we have been domestic servants, we have been criminals. We have been all of these things, but we’ve been leaders, we’ve been kings, we have been those who have changed the world. And those films, where that is the case, are so hard to get made.” His thoughtful answer hit the bullseye for me and is exactly what I and many other African-Americans have been thinking for years. Blacks are not celebrated by the powers that be in the United States (and elsewhere in the world either) for being strong, accomplished leaders. On the contrary, being subservient, toning down, or diluting their personae, art, or messaging, being “Uncle Toms” or “Aunt Jemimas”, not only in most movies, “but just in life” as Mr. Oyelowo so clearly states, often earns the highest praise, the greatest kudos from the powers that be. Just look at how harshly and unfairly many Whites in the United States have treated Presi