The Academy Awards is over with predictable outcomes: an Oscar to one Black artist and Black folks inside and outside the industry complaining. #OscarsSoWhite has been the case since 1929 when the Academy for Motion Arts and Sciences was founded. The abounding racism in the industry did not just come to light in 2015 with a hashtag. African Americans are faced with the reality either of being overlooked for their talents or seriously start looking at their options.

The Academy has been touting more diversity since the hashtag embarrassed almost a decade ago. Right, more diversity in nominations. It continues to fall short of the Oscar getting into Black hands. There’s also the big issue of who’s getting the big bucks. Black women are still at the bottom of the pay scale.

The talents of Black women have been on display at every level of the movie industry, yet they have never received the recognition or the pay they deserve. Hattie McDaniel received Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind.” The film’s producer had to pull some strings at the segregated venue in order for McDaniel to attend. Even then, she couldn’t sit at the front table with her co-stars; she was relegated to a small table against a back wall.

The situation for Black women isn’t that bad but progress has been painfully slow. Hallie Berry, who accepted the award for Best Actress in 2002, is still the only Black woman ever to receive an Oscar for that category. Don’t even look at categories like directing or screenplay. And we can’t even catch a break in the categories where Black women flourish in real life like song, costumes, make-up and hairstyling.

If this is an industry that Black artists think is important to their careers and if they believe that the Academy is critical to affirming their talents, then it’s time to up the ante. It’s time to stop the whining, the crying, the begging, the complaining. It’s time to know your history. It’s time to get organized.

There are enough Black mega stars to pool monies that will re-envision a different kind of industry. When actor Tim Reid built New Millennium Studios in Virginia, he was on the right track - have your own production studio so you don’t have to depend on the white ones. He built it in 1997 but they didn’t come. Rumor has it that more whites used the facility than Black artists and filmmakers. Reid sold the studio and the sixty acres it sat on in 2015. Reid and actor wife, Daphne Maxwell Reid, are still finding independent ways to cultivate new talent in the film industry.

There needs to be a laser focus on collective goals. Will Smith needs to slap down racist practices in Hollywood instead of his fellow Black actor. Tiffany “I’m-gonna-meet-my-future-man-out-there” Haddish should’ve taken a pass on her fact-finding trip to Israel (especially since no actions to help the situation came out of it). Taraji P. Henson could channel her tears about the pay gap into decisive action. It would be more powerful if the Black female actresses spoke in solidarity about the pay issue instead of as individuals. Individualism plays into the old divide-and-conquer tricks successfully used by those in power.

Marcus Garvey once said, “get organized and you will compel the world to respect you.” In this case, Black people in the entertainment business need to get organized and compel Hollywood to respect them by any means necessary.

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board

member and Columnist, Jamala Rogers,

founder and Chair Emeritus of the

Organization for Black Struggle in St.

Louis. She is an organizer, trainer and

speaker. She is the author of The Best of

the Way I See It – A Chronicle of

Struggle. Other writings by Ms. Rogers

can be found on her blog

jamalarogers.com. Contact Ms. Rogers

and BC.

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