Critically acclaimed director Spike Lee spoke to students at the University of Toledo recently. The subject of conversation was whether or not Hollywood has become colorblind since awarding Oscars to Denzel Washington, Halle Berry and Sidney Poitier. There is no need to question this subject. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences honoring these blacks is definitely retribution. It’s trying to make up for the past 30-plus years of leaving blacks out of major categories. However, we shouldn’t be naive and think that all is well after three successful performers are finally given their due. According to blackamericaweb.com, Lee addressed the students about there being a level playing field in Hollywood. He said it’s just not the case right now. “I don’t think so. We have to see what happens,” said Lee. Washington was awarded best actor for his role in “Training Day,” Halle Berry was the first black woman to win best actress for her role in “Monster’s Ball.” Sidney Poitier was honored with an honorary Academy Award This is a great feat for blacks, but blacks may ask themselves, “What’s next?” The playing field has been one-sided for so long. How can we expect it to change after one night of superiority? Spike Lee said it perfectly when he told the students, “Let’s not get too hyped up. Let’s not go crazy and think we’ve been delivered because of what happened. The last black man to win the Oscar for best actor was Sidney Poitier for his 1963 role in “Lilies of the Field.” Blacks probably thought that things were going to change after Poitier was given that award. That wasn’t the case. Until this year, no black man has ever followed in Poitier’s footsteps. Plus, Berry is the first black woman to ever win an Oscar for best actress. One must call into question the roles that the two thespians played to receive their respective accolades. Out of all the remarkable movies Washington has played in, such as “Malcolm X” and “Glory,” he receives an Oscar for playing a crooked cop. Berry, though she does not have the credentials of Washington, receives an Oscar for playing a white man’s mistress. What’s up with that? Could these roles be anymore stereotypical of the prejudiced roles blacks play in society? The irony of the actors receiving awards for these roles will be under question for years to come. The playing field is far from even. The fact of the matter is two talented actors received Oscars for mediocre roles. If a black actor or actress has a positive role in a successful movie, and they are not bestowed the same honor as Washington and Berry, there is a problem. That would be evidence that a flashlight needs to be shown over the Academy. Someone should evaluate his or her criteria to find out how the game is being played so that the playing field can be even.
-Antione Davis for the Editorial Board.