Shame On Oscar


Earlier this week reigning bobbleheads at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka, the Oscars), puffed out ever so pleased with themselves chests to announce new inclusion and diversity guidelines. Ostensibly the first stage of a five year plan to promote diversity on and off the screen. Translation – Oscar consideration will be reserved for productions where people of colour, women, persons with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community are included in minimum percentage quotas. From actors, marketing, pre and post production, catering and internships to location scouts, camera operators, lighting techs and extra wranglers, every aspect of production just became a box to tick.

Initial coverage centred on warm fuzzy kudos for Academy acknowledgement of trending social issues. Were we supposed to gush praise for enlightenment of an old guard white establishment? Sleep tight knowing another behemoth influencer feigned understanding or compassion for systemic injustice? What a farce!

Lets talk fine print before weighing in on the absurdity of hollow, insulting percentage quotas. New rules don’t apply to films vying for 2021 Oscar nods. Not until Oscar 2024 will films have to meet quotas in two of four standards. The four standards cover “diversity representation among actors and subject matter; behind-the-camera staff, such as cinematographers and costume designers; paid apprenticeships and training opportunities; and marketing and publicity.” Take your pick, no pressure. Pad the crew with a sprinkling of trans black lesbians, contract first aid to a immigrant Iranian doctor formerly flipping burgers to support his family because his degree isn’t recognized in America, hire amputee survivors of Rwanda genocide to sew costumes, recruit unpaid interns at predominantly black colleges, take a page from Netflix and script obligatory same sex intimacy in every production. Mission accomplished, standards fulfilled, business as usual.

What’s wrong with these people? Do they actually think spotlight posturing makes a difference? Believe marginalized people seek validation based on arbitrary quotas? It’s SO PAINFUL! News flash -we’re all the same. Black skin the same as freckled white, same sex union no different than traditional marriage, nation of birth, faith or lack thereof – all irrelevant. Diversity quotas prevail for purposes of corporate optics. Look at us, click, like, follow and share our trending abundance of social awareness. Shame on Oscar.

https://nationalpost.com/entertainment/oscars-academy-sets-out-new-diversity-standards-for-best-picture-contenders

15% Pledge


Aurora James, founder of “sustainable retail” store Brother Vellies in Brooklyn, New York launched the Fifteen Percent Pledge on May 31, 2020. A “You asked how you can help. This is your opportunity.” social media campaign aimed at large market share retailers in America. The likes of Whole Foods, Home Depot, Target, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barnes and Noble. In total, calling on ten mega retailers to rethink business strategies and marketing to include 15% of shelf space allotted to black owned enterprises. Why 15%? Approximately 15% of U.S. citizens are black. All ten declined,  preferring to focus on their own “racial diversity measures.”

See the source image

https://www.15percentpledge.org/pledge

Fifteen percent pledge momentum blossomed without help from corporate behemoths. In June Sephora stood in line, followed by Vogue magazine and countless online fashion, health and wellness retailers. Make no mistake, fifteen percent is building steam. Fair enough, but am I the only one who sees misplaced red flags?

Fact – racism is rampant, black Americans are twice as likely to contract coronavirus than their white neighbors, 40% of businesses closed due to COVID-19 were owned by black Americans, compared to 32% Latino and 16% white businesses. Awareness, dialogue, equality are fine and dandy, but it’s a slippery slope when these initiatives serve as feel good substitutes for fundamental change.

The fifteen percent pledge is a band aid. White participants mean well, they’re pleased with themselves, subscribe to social media trends of the moment. Fifteen percent pledges are a marketing banner. Sales spike with every law enforcement murder of a black citizen, fall when protest subsides. Sure, a handful of black entrepreneurs might benefit in the short term, but how does that combat racism?

Blacks don’t want fifteen percent pledges, they want equal rights. They want equal opportunity based on merit, not skin tone. Those with red hair, freckled white skin and green eyes are no different from persons with tightly curled locks and dark pigmentation. Latino or South Asian citizens aren’t privy to fifteen percent pledge initiatives, so why blacks? Why not aboriginal citizens or non-Christian immigrants? Sigh.

 

Beryl Dickinson-Dash


In 1949 Beryl Dickinson-Dash was a third year arts major attending McGill University in Montreal. At the time, only 150 of 8,500 McGill students were black. Most blacks were international students, Beryl Dickinson-Dash belonged to a handful of Canadian born black students, notedly a black Canadian woman who knew of no other black female Canadian students.

Beryl with her mother Maisy

Winter Carnival was a big deal at McGill, a mid-winter festival presided over by Carnival queen and four princesses. Keen beauties required 25 signatures from male students to secure nomination. Without her knowledge, the roommate of Beryl’s boyfriend (whom she later married) submitted a photo she’d given her boyfriend on his birthday along with 25 signatures from black male students. Beryl was shocked to find herself one of 26 official candidates.

Next came the ceremonial tea, an afternoon of polite white glove decorum and radio interviews. 26 were cut to 15, 15 became 5 finalists after a second round of interviews and struts. Beryl made the final cut. Each candidate was assigned a campaign manager.

Campaigns reached fever pitch, Beryl’s boyfriend, his brother, roommate and black students rallied behind her. Telegrams were sent to McGill posing as endorsement from prominent companies and organizations. Posters of Beryl appeared in every classroom. Voting booths with scrutineers proved seriousness of a fair vote. Results were leaked several days before official crowning. Beryl won by a landside, so much so final numbers wouldn’t be released as doing so might “injure the other girls”. Just past midnight, March 5, 1949 on her 21st birthday, Beryl Dickinson-Dash was crowned McGill Carnival Queen at the Montreal Forum in front of 8,000 spectators.

A newspaper clipping from March 5, 1949, announcing the pageant victory. (Submitted by Bradley Rapier)

Beryl doesn’t know why a predominantly white student body elected her Carnival queen. “Perhaps they were tired of how things were” she said. Regardless, she became a media sensation, front page news in papers and magazines. South of the border, Color magazine sponsored Dickinson-Dash (now Beryl Rapier) for a two week trip to West Virginia – her first negro college. A painting of Beryl standing in front of West Virginia state capital building by artist William Edouard Scott titled Spirit of Democracy was presented to McGill as a token of appreciation from people of America. I remind you – it was 1949!

Color magazine sponsored a two-week trip to West Virginia for Rapier. A press clipping from that trip features photographs of her at West Virginia State College. (Submitted by Bradley Rapier)

Sadly, few people in Canada know the story of Beryl Dickinson-Dash. But for stumbling upon her story last week courtesy CBC Radio Doc Project, I’d remain oblivious to a remarkable moment in Canadian history. More photos and history at the link below –

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/docproject/how-montrealer-beryl-dickinson-dash-made-history-as-mcgill-s-first-black-queen-of-carnival-1.5605944

Ancestry DNA


Ponder Ancestry DNA courtesy a new TV ad. Who knew 30 seconds of advertising could make me this grumpy. The clip opens with a man glancing over a tall fence at his new neighbor. They exchange awkward silence, the man fumbles with his phone, then forces a weak hello. New neighbor responds in kind with a distinct Irish accent. The man looks away – no welcome to the neighborhood, polite introduction or attempt at pleasantries – without another word he looks down at his phone. Seems unfriendly tongue tied man is viewing Ancestry DNA, results indicate he is part Irish. Inhospitable man evaporates, a voice over gushes praise for Ancestry DNA breaking barriers, bringing people together and proving we have more in common than we think. We see the man beaming animated chatter with Irish neighbor, Ancestry DNA saves the day.

Did I mention both men are white? Two white men who couldn’t look each other in the eye until DNA revealed a smidgen of shared ancestry. WTF! If this isn’t messed up I don’t know what is.

Image result for ancestry

Shithole


Ponder newspeak of shithole Trump –

“George Orwell warns us in his dystopian novel 1984 that authoritarianism begins with language. In the novel, “newspeak” is language twisted to deceive, seduce and undermine the ability of people to think critically and freely.

Donald Trump’s unapologetic bigoted language made headlines again Thursday when it was reported he told lawmakers working on a new immigration policy that the United States shouldn’t accept people from “shithole countries” like Haiti. Given his support for white nationalism and his coded call to “Make America Great (White) Again,” Trump’s overt racist remarks reinforce echoes of white supremacy reminiscent of fascist dictators in the 1930s.” – http://www.macleans.ca/news/world/shithole-countries-trump-uses-the-rhetoric-of-dictators/

Image result for trump shithole

Pass The Hand Sanitizer


Late August 2017 Lethbridge, Alberta, a perfect morning to watch the Whoop Up Days parade. We settled curbside, seated among families, senior care home residents and a smattering of tourists.Very much a regional celebration, sprinkled with local politicians,dance academies, beauty schools, financial institutions and community services. Local children came prepared for handfuls of candy along the route, loot bag bulges rivaled Halloween.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/15574096@N00/with/36874892205/

Along came a multicultural community group – dark skinned children carrying baskets of wrapped candy, beaming generous delight at outstretched hands. The family seated next to us let their children accept multicultural candy, then it got weird. The rising voice of Mom sent chills through an otherwise perfect morning. She meant business, Mom didn’t have to snarl twice – “get over here right now!” – plucked her children from innocence to realities of hand sanitizer  brandished with alarming urgency. Rabid purpose dispatched healthy dollops into outstretched hands.

Caught in my stare, Mom blithered half hearted platitudes – “the street is dirty, don’t want them to get sick”. Speechless, I turned away. Refusing to look back when snippets of insane jibber-jabber revealed Mom’s overwhelming need to explain hand sanitizer for strangers on the other side.

B.C. Place

This Canadian is grateful for hand sanitizer parade morning. As Canadians we possess an infinite capacity to finger Trump’s America, oblivious or politely indifferent to reality of racism in our back yard. I saw beautiful children full of hope and promise, hand sanitizer Mom saw dirty, inferior children who posed a risk to her family. As Canadians, regardless of faith, demographic or political affiliation, we have to stop hand sanitizing Moms. Next time I won’t look away.