Rock Addressing #OscarsSoWhite : The good and the bad

As expected the issue of diversity and inclusion was at the forefront of this year’s Oscar, which the host joked should be renamed ‘The White People’s Choice Award”. Chris Rock is being hailed for his monologue that called out Hollywood for its racism.

“Is Hollywood racist? You damn right Hollywood’s racist, but it ain’t the racist that you’ve grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist.” he said.

Generally, Chris has addressed the elephant in the room with humor and wit. But there were some instances that I found hard to take in. I didn’t like his attack on those who decided to boycott the Oscars. When he specifically singled out Jada Pinkett and Will Smith, I couldn’t help but cringe.

“Everybody went mad, you know. It’s quite like, Jada got mad? Jada says she’s not coming. Protesting. I’m like, “Isn’t she on a TV show?” Jada’s gonna boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rhianna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”

That was uncalled for and pretty insulting for suggesting that Pinkett is irrelevant. He continued suggesting that the protest isn’t important.

“Now, the thing is: Why are we protesting? The big question: Why this Oscars? Why this Oscars, you know?

It’s the 88th Academy Awards. It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole no-black-nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times. OK?

You gotta figure that it happened in the ’50s, in the ’60s—you know, in the ’60s, one of those years Sidney didn’t put out a movie. I’m sure there were no black nominees some of those years. Say, ’62 or ’63, and black people did not protest.

Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time, you know? We had real things to protest; you know, we’re too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer.”

His total attempt in belittling the why #OscarSoWhite uproar, doesn’t help the situation other than confirming to the dominantly white audience that agrees with him that this discourse is unimportant. The thing is #OscarSoWhite matters beyond Hollywood as diversity is an issue in every sector weather it is workplace diversity or women and people of color representation in leadership.

The other instant that I found totally distasteful was bringing Stacy Dash, who recently has been arguing that we don’t need Black History Month and BET, as the ‘Director of Minority Outreach Program’. “I cannot wait to help my people out. Happy Black History Month,” she giggled. “Thank you.” That was one big fail at sarcasm.

On the other hand, kudos to Chris for addressing issues that really matter in the race conversation:

“This year, the Oscars, things are going to be a little different. Things going to be a little different at the Oscars. This year, in the In Memorium package it’s just going to be black people that were shot by the cops on their way to the movies.”


Yohana Otite

Yohana Otite is the co-founder of BornBlack and writers on issues that revolve around the intersection of race, gender and class. Yohana also manages the Hamilton DiverseCity onBoard program at Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion.

One thought on “Rock Addressing #OscarsSoWhite : The good and the bad

    March 12, 2016 at 2:14 am

    Agreed. Chris is a great actor and comedian. I love his sense of humour. He did well touching upon the issue of racism that would not have been raised on such a platform otherwise. And yes he did make the those responsible in the audience uncomfortable. Undeniably, a step forward. However, hitting on Will and Jada was uncalled for. He may be right in terms of what triggered Jada in initiating OscarsoWhite but does it matter? Does that mean a woman who is a victim of rape cannot advocate for a violence free world? After all most successful movements are initiated by those directly affected by the cause. His attack on Jada only reinforces the division within the ‘privileged’ African American community which the other-side thrives on. He also underestimated the relevance of diversity representation in media. Priority wise, acting award may not necessarily be number one on the list as far as racism in US is concerned but it does not mean it should be set aside.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *