Forget about the lack of color at every prominent award show.
The only way to sum up the 67th Emmy Awards is with the phrase “Black Girl Magic.” The Emmy’s, like most coveted award shows, has historically been a celebration of white people in the arts. The Oscars and the Grammys recently came under fire for the lack of diversity in their nominations, let alone their winners. Only 4% of best actress awards have gone to women of color, and the statistics for the other categories have been eerily similar. The accomplishments of people of color (POC) have been largely undervalued and ignored. Then suddenly, a whopping 18 Emmy nominations were for black actors and actresses, 7 more than the previous year, which set the record. People of color were finally being recognized for their crafts, and more importantly, representation of of POC in mainstream media is finally being rewarded.People of color were finally being recognized for their crafts, and more importantly, representation of of POC in mainstream media is finally being rewarded. Click To Tweet
Viola Davis was the very first woman of color to win Best Actress in a Drama Series – the first time out of all 67 Emmy Awards. She delivered a beautiful acceptance speech addressing racism in her industry, as well as in society. After starting with a quote by Harriet Tubman, she addressed the issue of the lack of opportunity for women of color to thrive in media. She praised the writers and producers who created roles for women of color, like Shonda Rhimes, who has casted many people of color to play lead roles in her hit shows, including Kerry Washington in Scandal, Sandra Oh in Grey’s Anatomy, and Viola Davis in How to Get Away with Murder. Davis closed by applauding other black women who have broken boundaries by playing strong lead roles on television, including Taraji P. Henson and Nicole Beharie.
Of course, such a beautifully spoken speech that addressed white privilege could not be accepted for what it was. Of course, there would arise a white person who would take offense to her struggles as an actress not being the only subject of discussion. Soap actress Nancy Lee Grahn took Twitter to air her grievances about Davis’ speech. She tweeted, “Im a [f–king] actress for 40 yrs. None of us get respect or opportunity we deserve, Emmys not venue 4 racial opportunity. ALL women belittled.”
Oh here we go! #AllActressesMatter! Disregard the limited spaces for women of color in this industry. Ignore the whitewashing that takes place in cinema. Forget about the lack of color at every prominent award show.#AllActressesMatter ?! SERIOUSLY?! Click To Tweet
Grahn had the nerve to say that Davis had never been discriminated against. Grahn publicly announced that a Viola Davis, a black woman born in the 60s, had never been discriminated against. I cannot put together the words to describe how ridiculous that statement is. Grahn later apologized via Twitter but the damage has been done; the ignorance has been exposed.It was beautiful to witness the love and support between the black actresses in the room. Click To Tweet
It was beautiful to witness the love and support between the black actresses in the room, the sentimental hug between Taraji P. Henson and Viola Davis, the spur of applause initiated by Henson for Davis when the cheering began to wane. It was simply magical. Other WOC (Winners of Color) include Uzo Aduba for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and Regina King for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. The appreciation of black women doing outstanding work in television will inspire writers and producers to write more roles for these women. And the more roles that become available to them, the greater the effects of representation will be.
These women of color will continue to inspire and encourage the little girls who look like them. Through their roles, they will continue to spread the message the color of one’s skin does not set the boundaries for her ability to achieve. That’s what matters most.