by H. Lewis Smith
Not too long ago, Denzel Washington won the Oscar for “Training Day” as a rogue cop, but not for Malcolm X or Hurricane where arguments could easily be made that his performance in both those films were superior to “Training Day”. Moreover, Halle Berry won an Oscar for her controversial role in “Monsters Ball” as opposed to less scandalizing roles the actress has taken on. Because of these situations, it makes one wonder if Hollywood is trying to condition the public to believe that all black men are conniving, violent street thugs; confused, out-of-touch with reality enigmas; or soulless vessels willing to do anything required of them to make a buck. Are the executives influencing the public to believe that all black women are indignant, undignified and salacious women?
Although one may say Hollywood is just attempting to portray some truth about issues the black community faces or allowing the “hollywood stars” to express their creativity, Hollywood is playing up an extremely biased and one-sided notion of the community. They continue to promote and applaud degrading images of blacks despite the positivity that also lives and breathes within the community. Hollywood clearly has its own agendas; by acknowledging and congratulating these stereotypical roles, this is just another way for White America to carry out their plight to continue to deliberately emasculate blacks, and keep blacks in their so-called place with a low or confused self-image. Anyone in need of further proof of this plight, consider the likes of Dave Chappelle and Michael Jackson who were confronted with “selling out”…
During an appearance on an Oprah Winfrey show, there were some vague but still prominent clues as to Mr. Chappelle’s motivation: He makes a point that at some time in the majority of black actors’ careers, they are put in a position of having to literally wear a dress; and if not, their careers will likely stall out or deteriorate all together. Chappelle recalls an incident where he found himself in such a position while he was working on a movie with Martin Lawrence. He had entered his assigned trailer and saw a dress laid across a chair. He thought maybe he had walked into the wrong trailer. Much to his surprise, the dress was meant for him to wear in playing the role of a prostitute; Chappelle adamantly refused.
Unfortunately, as we well know, many black men fall victim to the intimidation. The following black men have all at some time or other accepted roles as women wearing dresses: Damon, Shawn and Marlon Wayans; Chris Rock; Wesley Snipes; David Allan Grier; Martin Lawrence; Flip Wilson; Jamie Foxx; Eddie Murphy; Tyler Perry and quite a few others. Such roles are the equivalent of cutting off one’s testicles.
Ultimately, if one just floats in the wind and goes with the flow, that individual will be emasculated. However, there is hope. Individuals can swim against the tide, which will make one leaner, stronger, and more alert. Truly, one can stand up, grab hold of their balls and make life what they want it to be without sacrificing the very thing that makes them a man. It is time to STAND UP and be a man. Dave Chappelle did exactly that–disallowing himself to be reduced to wearing panties, lipstick, rouge and face powder.
It’s too bad that Chappelle’s drawing the line to wearing a dress didn’t extend to his vitriolic use of the n-word and his assassinations of the black male and woman image; throwing his race under the bus to appease the powers that be, serves as testimony to his emasculation as well.
Michael Jackson, as difficult as it may be to believe, was a very proud black man. He was one of the most talented musicians and entertainers of all time; yet, he came across in mainstream media as a space cadet peculiarly obsessed with animals and children, and just someone totally wacko. Although one cannot argue that Michael Jackson was in a league of his own—which made him unique, appealing, and even more insatiable by popular opinion, was he as “weird” or out of touch as the media made him out to be? Did the music industry have ulterior motives to smear and discredit him, and if so, how far were they willing to go to destroy the image of a black man who shattered the records of icons Elvis Presley and the Beatles? Was race a factor in MTV’s initial refusal to promote any of Michael’s music? And once they were finally strong-armed into airing the tunes by the powerful CBS, did CBS strike a deal with MTV that required Michael to “sell out” in some way in order for his dreams to be realized?
Once with MTV, Michael’s career skyrocketed to astronomical heights, but over time, Michael’s image and psyche continued to change and spiral to even more bizarre levels. For instance, Michael’s skin condition and seemingly wacky ways all became prominent as his popularity and success was soaring through the roof. So what happened? What was the catalyst or contributing factors that continued to feed and enhance his psychological issues? What really caused his skin to become discolored—was it truly some skin disease or was he forced to bleach his skin? And after white executives in the music industry allowed Michael the “freedom” of expressing himself—owning a circus, and bringing and caring for ill children in his home, they never once came to his defense when the media started taking blows at Michael, labeling him a freak, child molester, and homosexual. Someone who once reigned as “the king” was thrown to the dogs and left to fend for himself. Why?
Was he too brilliant and talented for his own good, and the only way for the systemic to attempt to “keep him in his place” was by smearing and discrediting him as a person? Michael Jackson lived life through his music; he used his music as a form of communication to his fans and to express his truest feelings. The following video serves as a link between the lives of both Jackson and Chappelle, and provides an interpretation of the lyrics to some of Michael’s music. The messages emulating from his music exemplify a brilliant mind and someone far from being crazy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qxORq6eFA0
Michael seemed to have been convinced that certain people were out to kill him…why? Who are these people that Michael and his sister Latoya often referred to as “they”? “They” did everything possible to convince the public that Michael Jackson was NOT a proud black man, but a confused, unhappy, and irrational being. And to further enhance this unfortunate image of Michael, others within Jackson’s inner circle were also “marked”. For instance, the question still remains: Was Dr. Conrad Murray set up? Latoya Jackson provides an answer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytTh4wJdevg
We all are to some extent influenced by the society and environment in which one resides. As such, this is the primary reason why it takes strength and courage to stand up and be a real man; however, it is impossible to do if one has been emasculated. And if one is too blind to realize the systemic’s hidden agenda, they will continue to nod their heads, shake hands, and agree to roles or situations that continue to contribute to the demise of the black community. The same scenario can be witnessed in the music industry: Rather than being intimidated into wearing a dress, many rappers have had their arms twisted to use the n-word in their music; and instead of standing up and being men and refusing to have their testicles removed, they give in to demeaning, degrading and selling out their race for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver…these are not real men.
It should be pointed out that Angela Basset was first offered the role of “Leticia” in “Monster’s Ball, but because of the racist plot and the steamy hot racy sex scenes, she refused. When will others in Black America, such as the likes of Angela Basset, realize the truth of the conspiracy and take a stand? It is time to stand up and show some mental and intestinal fortitude. It is time for Black America, on every front, to prove to the rest of the world who they are and what they represent. It is time for Black America to realize the plight that is continuing to be carried out against them at their own hand. Money does make life easier, but if one has no moral character or respect from within or without, what is the point of being rich as money cannot buy dignity, integrity, pride or reverence?
H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc. (www.theunitedvoices.com); a writer for the New England Informer Online, staff writer for ThyBlackman.com; and author of “Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word”. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thescoop1
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