February is known as Black History Month. This February has been a roller coaster ride of Black History in the making. On the heels of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, America saw national Queen B, Beyonce, give a nod to the Black Panthers at the Superbowl. A week later at the Grammy’s, King Kendrick gave an inspiring Afro-Centric performance. But the true story of February 2016 lies in the a drama only Hollywood could create.
Back in January after the Oscar nominations were announced, Jada Pinkett-Smith took to her social media to make an announcement of her own. Due to the lack of diversity of the Oscar nominations, she made a plea for the black community to boycott the Oscars prompting the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. Almost immediately after, Fox News invited Stacey Dash up to give her 2 cents on Jada’s thoughts. Dash’s thoughts extended to more than just her thoughts on the Oscars and Pinkett-Smith; Dash flat out went out to proclaim that Black History Month should be done away with as well as channels such as BET. As Dash see’s it, the idea of Black Entertainment Television and the like, cause separatism in her perspective. As expected this threw the internet into a tizzy, especially at what some would call “Black Twitter”. While some sided with Jada on boycotting the Oscars, others questioned her intentions. Her husband Will Smith’s most recent film Concussion was released around “Oscar Season” and many thought Pinkett was reacting to that. Unfortunately Stacey had no such luck. In fact Stacey Dash had to publicly ask to be left alone following her comments. While the hype was dying down about all the commotion, the public realized who was hosting; The comedic race-guru himself, Chris Rock. The world was ready to see how the culmination of all these forces would play out.
It was a particularly unusually beautiful day in the very tail end of February. The red carpet had been rolled out and the stars have taken their seats. As racism does, a thick tension filled the auditorium and living rooms around the country. Chris Rock takes the stage. And Mr. Rock comes out swinging. Starting out the night by putting things into perspective for both sides. Chris Rock asks why are we protesting? Citing that in the 88 years of Oscar history, most have been “so white” and the black community didnt care because there were “real” things to protest. Possibly taking aim at the reaction to the Smiths staying mum on #BlackLivesMatter to protest an award show. Midway through his monologue, Rock shifts his sites to comparing Hollywood's two biggest “isms”; the aforementioned racism and, now, sexism. Stating “If you want black nominees -- Every year, you need to just add black categories… You already do it with men and women… Its not track and field. Robert De Niro never said ‘I gotta slow down this acting so Meryl Streep can catch up’”. Rock was now playing to the separatism Stacey Dash touched on with the BET perspective. He later on went to bring out Stacey for an ill placed Black History Month bit.
Throughout the night, the biggest point Rock touched on was opportunity for people of color. He made a point of it in his monologue and in several other spots and segments. In one segment in particular Rock turned the table on the Black community by taking to the streets and asking black viewers about Oscar nominated pictures. Most of the people asked haven't seen nor heard of the films, yet still felt under represented. Overall, Chris Rocks hosting was a fantastic display of comedic genius. As the court jester once, stood before king and made light of fairly serious situations and the king himself, Rock stood before the Academy and America and gave us the royal treatment.
See yall at the BET Awards.