For the last week or so, I have monitored the debate on whether to boycott the Oscars or not and found it interesting to read and hear the various viewpoints. From where I sit, we as African Americans are focusing on the wrong end. The boycotting needs to begin long before the Oscar/Academy Awards. The type of boycotting that I am writing/talking about is not of the type that one might think given the current debate. The type of boycotting I am referring to is the lessening of our (African Americans) focus on so much entertainment.
It is astounding as to the lengths we will go in order to be entertained, yet will not place this same energy or focus on something that really matters such as economics and education. As I ride down the streets of my city, I see dish upon dish affixed on the same roof, (that's right, multiple dishes on the same house) in a city full of children who cannot read. The same holds true for cable boxes. Seriously, how much television is there? Having grown up in the era of analog television broadcasts, it is still ludicrous to me that we actually have to pay to watch television channels. The price of a movie ticket or sporting event is no better. At what point do we say enough of the madness? If you really want to impact the Academy, stop watching so much television and going to so many movies. Stop putting your money in these things. That's where the boycotting begins; not at the awards show.
I've always had an issue with the Oscars/Academy because it is indeed what it is called, an "Academy," aka "Establishment." The "Establishment" does what the "Establishment" wants to do, hence the current debacle. Think back a few years when Halle Berry and Denzel Washington were awarded the coveted "Oscar." Think back to the roles they won the award for....... Halle Berry for her role in Monster's Ball and Denzel Washington for his role in Training Day. If you recall an African American had not won the award for decades and in this particular year, we had not only one African American win the award, but two and not only two, but a male and a female. That was done by "Establishment" design. The "Establishment" decided to award two African Americans for roles that it saw then and still views African Americans as now.........loose, promiscuous, lascivious, whores and wild untrustworthy thugs. Both Mr. Washington and Ms. Berry had played much more powerful roles that were worthy of an Oscar, yet they received the award for the stereotypical roles of being a slut and thief. In my opinion, Training Day was one of Mr. Washington's less than stellar performances and I refused to waste my time watching Monster's Ball. The Academy made it very clear that yes we will award you [African Americans] an Oscar, but it will be for what we [Academy/Establishment] want it to be awarded for. Truth be told, Mr. Washington and Ms. Berry ought to have not accepted the award (boycotted) on the realization of what roles they were being awarded for, but as usual we go with the flow. Even the selection of Chris Rock to host the ceremony is an "Establishment" decision. "What do you mean we don't recognize African Americans?, we have one hosting the show." Give me a break!!
What perplexes me is that not enough of us really see the game that is going on. For those of us who do, we are told that we "think too deep," or "see things that are not there." African Americans spend far too much money on entertainment that could be better invested in much more meaningful activities and ventures. Who cares who is nominated for an Oscar or not? Would not we be better served to pool our [African American] money and start our own production companies? Would we not be better off to define our roles in television and movies rather than have the "Establishment" define our roles for us? Why do we need to watch so much television, go to so many movies, buy so many sneakers, go to so many sporting events to begin with?
We keep supporting the very things that are keeping us [African Americans] in poverty and then want to waste even more time boycotting something such as the Oscar Awards that make absolutely no difference in our lives. Seriously, will it make a difference in the life of the average African American if an African American wins an Oscar or not? Is winning an Oscar helping our economic situation? Is winning an Oscar building African American businesses? Is it helping us own more corporations? What is winning or being nominated for an Oscar doing for us?
The following was posted in Black Enterprise in November of 2013
African-American’s Buying Power Projected to be $1.1 Trillion By 2015
Group is the second largest racial minority in the country
There are 43 million African Americans in the United States, 13.7 percent of the total population, the second largest racial minority in the country. The median age is 32 and 47 percent are under 35 years of age.
Even with these impressive numbers and buying power most mainstream advertisers are not inclusive, do not include African Americans in media and marketing plans and have underestimated the market size.
The Nielsen Company study entitled “African-American Consumers: Still Vital, Still Growing,” which was commissioned by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, shows the underrepresented potential and spending power of the African American community.
The report’s findings, which will be presented at the June conference of the National Association of Black Accountants Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, found that the African American population is an economic force to be reckoned with, with a projected buying power of $1.1 trillion by 2015.
Also worth noting, the population of African-American consumers growth outpaces the rest of the population by 30 percent. Additionally, the demographic is younger, more educated and has higher incomes than commonly believed.
According to the study: between 2000 and 2009, the number of African Americans attending some college or earning degrees has grown: 45 percent of men; 54 percent of women. Households earning $75,000 or more grew by more than 60 percent, faster than the rest of the population. African American’s average income nationwide is $47,290.
So what does this all mean in business terms? It means African Americans wield tremendous buying power. The Nielsen study showed numerous shopping trends, mostly for household, health and beauty, travel, smart phones and child related items.
“The Nielsen report is very encouraging because it shows the African American population is a tremendous financial asset to this country’s economic recovery,” says Calvin Harris, Jr. , President & CEO of the National Association of Black Accountants.As African Americans, we do wield tremendous buying power, but in my opinion, we don't use this power wisely. Yes indeed, we are a force to be reckoned with, but again in my opinion, we don't use our force wisely. All of this quibbling over whether to boycott or not boycott the Academy Awards is a waste of time in my view because the boycotting needed to have started towards the economics of the Academy and that is by our not subscribing to so much satellite or cable television; by our not using our buying power on so many movies or so many pairs of sneakers. By focusing our purchasing power and force to buy and invest in things that really matter for not only the race, but for the world.
I could care less as to who wins an Oscar or not because at the end of the day, the awarding of that trophy is not doing a thing to change the plight of African Americans or any other Americans for that matter. I challenge us to let's put our energy on something that really matters. Something to critically think about.
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