Viola Davis is asking for equal pay with the likes of Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore. Of course, she is totally deserving of it. She’s just as brilliant as they are, and has won all the notable awards.
But Hollywood is white. The media, over centuries, have made white the acceptable colour of beauty. The media controls everything. It controls how we think and how we see ourselves… so much that black children find white dolls to be more beautiful than their skin colour.
Blacks in Jamaica are wrapping themselves overnight in transparent polythene, after applying bleaching creams, to become a shade of grotesque pink, deluded by an ambition to be anything close to white. It doesn’t matter the damage to the skin – just be something far from black. Africans have made billionaires of manufacturers of bleaching creams and tablets.
So if white is more appealing, then white will earn more. I guess.
But this is too simple a conclusion. I am sure there’s a web of intellectual discourse that should solve this mystery… Why Viola earns less than Streep.
Black as a culture is an appealing conversation. We exalt black like an exotic artefact. It is only pleasant when it is far away from our reality. In conversations, yes. But not in other aspects of our lives. It’s the same way they talk about “nature” and “simplicity” as they relate to African backwardness and poverty. Ever seen a white woman married to a black man from a third-world country… how much she loves to carry calabash on her head, and love to walk the red sand of a remote village, admiring the birds on trees and the smell of the earth… things that you and I don’t give a shit about? That’s the “appeal” of black – like an experience that needs to be savoured before jolting back to reality. That’s why it is necessary to have one black ghen-ghen movie like Black Panther once every decade. The world needs to hold their breaths for it. It shouldn’t be their everyday cinematic experience.
I’m not sure how this my rant connects to the original subject of Viola Davis… but I think demand would determine outcome.
Does the Hollywood audience (which are mainly white Americans, only because they are the majority) want to see black people headlining major movies every other month OR do they want to hold their breaths for a black-buster once in a decade?
Remember there’s BET and Tyler Perry movies and some kind of black entertainment that feeds the needs of the African American audience. I am not even certain the average African American has a cinema culture. When I went to Manhattan, I could hardly find a black person at any of the leisure spots we visited – from the taxi waterway to the exquisite restaurants and couture houses… we were always the only black people.
I think the most disheartening racial disaster in Hollywood was the stunted career of Larenz Tate. And I still can’t get over how he didn’t become some kind of Ryan Gosling. He is hot. He can act. But he is black.
It’s race. But I don’t think it is racist. May be. But I am tired of the victim tag.
It’s a media problem. And as long as the media continues to make black models take off their shirts to reveal white models underneath in beauty commercials, then we are always going to wonder if black is sexy, easy on the eyes, and worthy of the same opportunities and rewards as whites.
Viola says, “I am nowhere near them (Streep and Moore)… not as far as the money… not as far as job opportunities…”
If the opportunities are not equal, then the pay cannot be equal. In every Disney show of ten white kids, there’s only one black child actor. Every parent knows this.
When I wanted to settle in Manhattan and build a media career there… I realised colour, accent, politics and all the other factors I cannot control will make it really slow for me to get a position anywhere near what I had already achieved in Nigeria. I’d be starting from the very scratch – I might even be the tea girl! Good Lord!!!
But in Nigeria I was the Managing Editor of a media house and had started another arm of the company as the Managing Director – that was 2016. How do you leave that and start to hustle in America – the country with a troubled conversation around race, especially for blacks and immigrants. Nah.
My complexion hasn’t stopped me in achieving anything in Nigeria. I hate it here though… but it is a country that has never told me I am black so I can’t get so-and-so… Never!
I do wonder why women bleach in West Africa. But that’s another topic for another day.