Academy Awards 2014...wow. The Academy Awards show was hosted last evening by Ellen Degeneres. The Academy Awards were highly anticipated this year because there were some great movies that hit the big screen in 2013. One of which was 12 Years a Slave. The Academy Awards has been known to snub the great works by African Americans in the film industry both in front of and behind the camera. This year Steve McQueen (Director), John Ridley (Screenwriter), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Actor-Lead Character) and Lupita Nyong’o (Actress-Supporting Role) were all nominated for their contribution to the film. Also, 12 Years also received a Best Picture nomination.
This is the first time in many years I have watched the entire Academy Awards telecast. I must say that Ellen kept me entertained and was a great host but I was hoping that blacks were not left walking away without an Oscar. However, this would not be the first time that great works by blacks were inexplicably looked over by the members of the Academy. I had become completed jaded when it came to the recognition process as well as the receipt of the award. However, the black human spirit is amazing. Regardless of how many times we have been let down and in some cases beaten down we still have a sense of hope that this one time things are going to be different (fair). Therefore, we sit in front of our televisions waiting for that moment when the envelope is cracked open and the presenter reads….And the Oscar goes to….gasp!!!!
Last night was filled with much anticipation and hope. As I sat at my computer on Facebook conversing with other friends commenting about the overall awards it became a very fun evening. Then the presenter for Best Supporting Actress read off all the nominees and then Lupita Nyong’o’s name was called. I was overjoyed for her performance as Patsy in 12 Years was riveting. I shouted with joy. However, as the night went on Chiwetel did not win for Best Actor but I knew it was a very close race. Matthew Mcconaughey deserved to win for his performance in Dallas Buyer’s Club for it was one to beat. Later that evening John Ridley won an Oscar which was great he is only the second black person to win for Best Adapted Screenplay. Then at long last at the end of the awards the nominations for Best Film were being read by Will Smith. I just knew it would be Gravity, however, to my wonderful surprise it was 12 Years a Slave. That was icing on the cake.
This film told the true story of a free black man that was captured in the north and sold into slavery in the south where he spent 12 years of his life. The scenes were riveting, well-acted and well directed by all involved. It is amazing to me that so many blacks have not taken the time to see the film. Most people will tell you that they do not want to see the cruelty that leaps off the screen. However, in not supporting this film it does a disservice to our ancestors and ourselves. This is our history and yes it is painful but if you do not watch it and learn from it you will remain lost and misunderstood. Our ancestors endured some horrific things as they struggled to live daily under the tyranny of slavery. However, many made it and that is why we are here today and we MUST celebrate that. But we can’t brush aside those difficult parts of our heritage and expect to be rewarded moving forward. We get upset when the “white man” tells our story but yet we don’t want to embrace it, learn it and tell it to our children. If we let someone else tell our story they have the ability to give it whatever ending or slant they desire. Choosing to opt out and not learn, we walk away believing that those false stories are in fact true.
It is my hope that with all the coveted recognition this movie has garnered that we as a race will embrace it fully and teach each other as well as our children, nephews and nieces that they have nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to their slave ancestors. We are from some amazing and strong group of people for not everyone could have survived all that was endured.