29 February 2016


So, the Oscars.

In years past, we've celebrated with an Oscar party- not because we really love the Oscars, but because we like any excuse to have a party. And let's be real- very few of the movies I watch would be up for an award.

But we like to celebrate and thus, our yearly Oscar party. We, and by we, I mean me and the kids, dress up in our pajamas and layer on the jewelry. We roll out a makeshift red carpet and they walk in their dress-up heels. We eat treats and they sit, fancied up watching the celebrities arrive. I mean, cookies and milk in champagne glasses pointing out who has sparkles on their gown? It's big time over here.

After hearing Jada Pinkett Smith speak out, I decided to not watch this year's show. Did it make any difference to the academy or the network that my home wasn't tuned in? No, but that's not why I opted out.

My oldest is our resident party planner. She keeps a running list at all times of any and all events coming up in the next couple months. She had plans for the super bowl, Valentine's Day, and the Oscars. She knew it was coming up, but she's also four and I could have have just let it slide, moving on to the next thing, and she might not have noticed.

In doing that, I would be giving up a moment to teach, and I can't let those get away. So when Sunday rolled around, we had plans for ice cream and a movie. I explained to her that the Oscars were on but we weren't watching them. We talked about people working hard to make movies, people of color and white people, but that only white people were being given awards, even when they didn't do the best job. We talked about fairness and doing what is right. Then we ate ice cream.

Does it matter to Hollywood that we didn't watch their awards show?


Does it matter to my children that we didn't?


It matters to them that they know people are to be valued for more than the entertainment they might provide.

Could we have just watched the red carpet- because that's all they would be awake for anyhow? No, because that's sending the message that it's okay to admire people for their beauty and presence, but not necessarily care about their work, ideas, and what they stand for.

The Academy is overwhelmingly white and male. I am raising two daughters- one black, one white. Representation matters. It matters so much. If I can't show them that their race and gender is recognized and appreciated and honored every bit as much as they deserve to be, then we won't tune in.

We'll find it elsewhere and we will celebrate it. Because, dammit if that's not what we do.

• • •

I did watch Chris Rock's opening monologue on YouTube later. I was hoping for more than he delivered. Shaun King's perspective is spot on.

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