Wow Antoine, Are You Serious!!!!
Dr. Boyce: Director Antoine Fuqua Says Hollywood isn’t Racist? OK, I’m Confused
Of all the roles that Antoine might have played in his life, I never expected him to play that of a racial apologist. The director was asked about well-documented Hollywood discrimination, and he seems to think that it’s all a figment of our imagination.
Speaking with The Voice, Antoine said the following:
“I wouldn’t use the term racist, as much as I would say the playing field is not even in Hollywood,” he said. “But ultimately, you have to put in the work.
“It’s very easy to cry racism when you’re not qualified to do the work or your work isn’t transcending to where you want it to be. Hollywood is a business and you have to look at it that way.”
Antoine’s comments should probably be refined and clarified just a bit, largely because that’s just the kind of remark that rich white people love to pay black men to make. It’s the typical, “white guys have nearly all the opportunities because most black people aren’t qualified” comment, which serves as continuous validation of white supremacy. Millions of black people hear similar remarks when corporations and universities swear that they can’t find qualified minorities, even as thousands of hard-working black people apply for the job. It reminds me of when a well-trained colleague of mine applied for a faculty position at Syracuse University in an all-white department, and was rejected while being given no explanation for why she wasn’t “the right fit.” Workplace racism almost never has to explain itself, since the reason for rejecting qualified black people typically comes down to the fact that we are not perfect, while no one takes the time to point out the obvious imperfections of all the white guys who got those same opportunities.
Statistically speaking, when you see so many black people being shut out of an institution, particularly one that has been proven to be undeniably racist, it’s largely because there are long-term systemic factors that continue to keep black people out. Yes, Hollywood is a business (as Mr. Fuqua notes), and as a professor of business myself, I can say that African Americans have a difficult time competing with the shear economic power that white America has accumulated by keeping us from being able to build wealth for the last 400 years. This leads to Hollywood studios controlling the landscape of black opportunity in ways that are nothing short of sad, sick and embarrassing. No matter what we do, this disparity isn’t going to disappear overnight.
Antoine, who is a smart man no doubt, continues to explain Hollywood Racism 101 by admitting that not every white guy in Hollywood has a firm grasp on black culture.
“I do see other things – like people who don’t understand or are ignorant to our culture. But I wouldn’t call them racist. If anything, it’s our job to expand their minds to our experience,” he said.
Here it appears that Mr. Fuqua is confusing racist intent with systematic racism. You see, systematic racism doesn’t exist in America because every white man wakes up in the morning choosing to racist. Instead, it exists because for hundreds of years, America was built with a set of norms, patterns and constructs that lead to white men controlling nearly everything in our society. Therefore, these long-evolved power and wealth disparities allow whites to have a greater ability to promote their own values and expectations over those of black and brown people.
So, the fact is that systematic racism can exist even when you don’t have a single racist person in the building. Mr. Fuqua’s friends probably do love him in spite of the color his skin. I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to fund his next project. But he has to realize that he lives in a world that has trained him to believe that as “the chosen negro,” it is now his job to align his values with those in power and to undermine the efforts of those who seek fairness and equality in our society. He doesn’t have to lead the charge against racism, but I am hopeful that he won’t continue to blindly obstruct it.
Personally, I would prefer that Antoine continue to make good movies, and judge talent fairly (I can’t wait to see his latest flick). He’s done a great job of creating compelling roles for talented black actors and actresses. The fact that he has access to a large microphone does not qualify him to become Hollywood’s version of Dr. Cornel West. He’d be better off leaving this kind of analysis to the scholars.