*co-authored by Naomi Faith Bu
Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award made headlines at the 2017 Golden Globes as she addressed issues of diversity. Titles such as “Golden Globes: Big Wins Reflect Progress in Diversity on Film, TV” points to diversity and foreigners involved in the entertainment business.
Many are commenting on the record number of Golden Globes’ voters who nominated actors and producers of color. With TV shows like Atlanta, and Black-ish, along with the critically acclaimed film drama Moonlight, it is not difficult to acknowledge the immense talent that drives these productions. They have worked undeniably hard to make their voices heard in a landscape of predominately white directors, producers, actors, and crew members. But can we say this award season was truly diverse when the only diversity shown to us is black and white?
Meryl Streep reminded us during her acceptance speech that, “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners and if we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts”.
Streep is correct in that the entertainment business is full of outsiders and foreigners. People from around the globe are part of the entertainment business, and they ultimately contribute to creating the fabric of our media and the entertainment industry centered in Hollywood. As the Globes and other award shows have often shown, only rewarded diversity is in terms of black and white. However, this highlights a greater issue of ignoring the contribution of other minorities in our media.
Asian Americans have typically been viewed as the foreigner in America. It doesn’t matter how many generations Asian Americans have lived in America, they are continually asked, ‘Where are you from?” with the underlying meaning of, “where are you really from?” This generally results in perpetuated notions of Asian Americans being an alien to this land.
Michael Luo, an investigations editor at The New Yorker, wrote an Open Letter to the Woman Who Told My Family to Go Back to China”. In the article he describes a white woman screaming at him, “Go back to your fucking country.” To which Luo yelled back, “I was born in this country!” There is an assumption that Asian Americans can never be fully accepted in America and that we are somehow still foreigners who should return to their countries. As such, we are ridiculed, stereotyped and blamed when something goes wrong in our society. While the pressing issue of violence against African Americans should be vigilantly fought, we need to start a conversation about the rest of the minorities in this country. We are a country of not just black and white, but everything in between. We need to talk about diversity beyond the black and white terms and talk about the racism which occurs to all Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans.
Tracee Ellis Ross won best actress in a comedy or musical TV series. In her acceptance speech she stated, “This is for all the women of color and colorful people whose stories, ideas, and thoughts are not always considered worthy and valid and important. But I want you to know that I see you. We see you.”
This statement was deeply moving and made many viewers reflect on their social position of race. But we had to ask ourselves, are we really seen? Are we really seeing the colorful people when it excludes the faces of so many?
The 2017 Golden Globes reminds us of the Oscars 2016 when every mention of racism or diversity was black and white. We saw diversity ignored in the broad range of ethnicities and races. Our society is dealing with this difficult issue of fighting bias and prejudices against others, when it is becoming more visible than it has been for many years. If we are to fight this battle, we need to fight for all people of color and stop making this an issue of black and white. The sooner we do so, the better we can overcome this deeply ingrained racism which is hurting all communities of color in this nation.
*Based in Toronto, Canada, Naomi Faith Bu is an undergraduate who is spirited about writing and creating work that exposes an audience to a new world. She expresses her stagnant beliefs regarding social and environmental issues through her authored ventures. She is currently a student at Ryerson University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion.