Pop Culture Ethics: The Award Shows’ Push For A Racially Divided America

Fortunately, a smaller and smaller percentage of Americans pay attention to TV award shows like the Oscars, Tonys, Emmys and the rest. That’s just moral luck, though: it doesn’t diminish the unethical nature of what they are trying to do.

This coming Saturday night, on Feb 26, BET will broadcast the 53rd Annual NAACP Image Awards. Presenters will include Issa Rae, Kerry Washington, LL Cool J, Morgan Freeman, Questlove, Tiffany HaddishZendaya, and others.  Special honors will go to Samuel L. Jackson (the NAACP Chairman’s Award) and Nikole Hannah-Jones (the Social Justice Impact Award). The winners of the non-televised awards have been announced already: every winner, like every nominee is black.

You will recall that the Oscars were shamed into making race an artistic consideration with the #Oscarssowhite social media protest. Quickly virtual quotas imposed on potential film nominees and pro-minority biases embedded in the nomination process. Meanwhile, in TV World, virtually every couple portrayed in dramas and ads are mixed race. How can the NAACP, or BET, justify their segregated awards that literally ban white artists from consideration?

They can’t, logically or ethically. They can, and will, using rationalizations, but it is clear hypocrisy. The original rationale behind such segregated awards was that black artists were unfairly ignored by the Oscars and others, but now that there has been a wild over-correction, that contention does not hold: in the upcoming Oscars, the number of black nominees exceeds the proportion of blacks in the general population.

The NAACP Image Awards are an offensive anachronism, and now stand, along with the Congressional Black Caucus, “historically back colleges” and other institutions as supporters and enablers of the racial discrimination and division they once fought.

Meanwhile, the Academy Awards made their biases clear when they announced this year’s hosts: Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes. Three hosts were necessary because any one would not have sufficiently satisfied the Hollywood left’s mandatory representation rules. This group “looks like America,” if America was two-thirds black, had no Hispanics or Asians, and was all female. Sykes, in addition to being aggressively and hatefully anti-conservative (she publicly wished death on Rush Limbaugh), is gay. Schumer is distantly related to Democratic Senate Leader Chuck, in addition to sharing his surname.

My bet is that no white, straight man will host the Oscars alone again within my lifetime.

14 thoughts on “Pop Culture Ethics: The Award Shows’ Push For A Racially Divided America

  1. I guess I don’t get your problem with “historically black colleges.”

    I don’t believe they are black only colleges anymore. They don’t discriminate. That designation just accentuates the circumstances of their founding. Lots of schools do that; i would bet a small minority don’t use their history for marketing purposes.

    The colleges should not be expected to close up shop just because the reason for their creation has disappeared.


    • HBCU’s are a signal to Black students that they will be in the majority. That is a big selling point. Even if it is not specifically designed to promote self segregation young college bound men and women seek out educational institutions in that they believe will give them the greatest value. I remember when there was a list of the top ten party schools. Neither the classification of being an HBCU or being the number one party school helps the student choose the best academic experience but such classifications create value for prospects wishing to maximize the perceived value of their overall collegiate experience.

    • Because one historically black college is 90% white (but still gets special grants for being one, the average black enrollment for the group is still about 75%. Calling a school “black: officially is a great way to discourage diversity: would blacks other than those seeking to make a statement choose to apply to a “historically white college” marketed as such?

      • They don’t have to close up shop, just call themselves “colleges” like everyone else. Harvard was anti-Semitic and Christian for centuries, but it never marketed itself that way in the 20th Century.

      • Calling it black may have the effect of limiting diversity, but is it actually “discouraging” it. (Discouraging sound intentional.)

        I do not think your analogy to historically white colleges is particularly apt. Historically white colleges were founded over hundreds of years. Historically black colleges popped up in a very specific historical era for very specific purposes: to provide ex-slaves with an education to make them productive free members of society. Yes, as marketing goes, it is marketed more toward black people, because that was their original constituency.

        There is no good analogy with “historically white colleges.”

        A better analogy may be made with religiously-affiliated colleges and universities, as they were generally formed to serve particular segments of society: Brigham Young, Brandeis, St. Thomas. You don’t have to belong to the religion to go to these schools, but their student body probably skews that direction in most cases.

        Military schools might also provide a better analogy because, by stating that you are a military school, you are branding yourself with a certain sort of educational philosophy. The student body would be practically self-selecting, with a limit on certain sorts of diversity.

        As long as historically black colleges don’t discriminate against people on the basis of their race, their statement that they are a historically black college tells you a lot about the college’s history and mission. As marketing goes, it tells you something.

        Historically white colleges are the collection of 90% of the colleges in America founded after the year before Harvard was founded. It tells you almost nothing about the institution.


        • HBCUs are clearly an anachronism. Surely, they were founded as a response to Jim Crow or even Reconstruction. They are almost all located in the former Deep South. They were clearly intended to be “separate but equal.” Now, any black kid can get into whatever college or university he or she is otherwise capable of getting into. What’s the raison d’etre for HBCUs now? Do they convey any message other than, “Hey, we and our students are second rate”? Which is not to say they or their students are second rate.

          But frankly, as I’ve stated before, BLM and proponents of CRT and all the wokesters are ultimately militating for everything to be separate but equal, or maybe even a little more equal for black people. They assert that white supremacy is the source of all of society’s problems, therefore, get all the white people and institutions out of society and … problem solved.

          NIcole Hannah-Jones has been tenured at an HBCU after being denied tenure at the University of North Carolina. Ibram X. Kendi is a graduate of Florida A&M, an HBCU. They and their fellow travelers are basically running a separatist movement.

          • It is kind of hard to say they were “intended” to be “separate but equal.” If black people were simply excluded from other institutions, they were founded to serve a marginalized group. They were not separate by their own choice; they were separate because others wanted them separate.

            But, their reason for being may be similar to what it always was. As Booker T. Washington, who was very much involved with Tuskeegee University, the goal was to provide black people with “the knowledge of how to live … how to cultivate the soil, to husband their resources, and make the most of their opportunities.” That goal could apply equally well to white people. So, even if there is no longer the exclusive need to provide services to a specific community, there is no reason to expect Tuskeegee University to simply quit; institutions don’t act that way. They grow, change, evolve and try to survive. Historically black colleges may be a historical anachronism, but they have a common historical mission and legacy. That legacy has an appeal to a certain segment of society.


            • Jut, YOU suggest to black people that they need schools to provide them with “the knowledge of how to live … how to cultivate the soil, to husband their resources, and make the most of their opportunities.” Try that one on Lebron James. I’ll stay a time zone or two away while you do so.

  2. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
    — Chief Justice John Roberts.

    Sounds right to me.

  3. I’m trying to see the problem here. There are race-based organisations at all levels of society from high school clubs level to community social groups to national organizations. They do their own thing, including honouring members of their community, and I don’t generally see a problem with it.

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