The dust has settled and the effects of alcohol and nostalgia still linger in the hills of Hollywood as the Oscars swiftly evaporate with a slightly less dramatic exit.
The night before was a deliciously weighty matter of — what the hell are we in for when Chris Rock takes the stage?
We know it will be dope because it has to be. The mere fact that he is willing to go all the way in the midst of #WhiteOutMadness proves that we are in for a fast and furious ride that won’t end until he says so.
He did it. It was breathtaking. It was everything. It was heroic and then it was just straight up crazy.
I wasn’t in it for the rest of the night. The plan was to watch him knock out the audience with a firm black hand and then go back to my other requirement of the night.
But it became apparent rather quickly that this was going to be a non-stop trip to Roots revisited with no detour in sight.
Hollywood is racist. This isn’t a secret and everyone’s favorite black comedian made sure the white people sitting in their million dollar getups — courtesy of their million dollar pay checks — understood that they in some way had contributed to the shitty state of affairs.
And they got it.
But Chris Rock needed to also make it clear that #OscarsSoWhite is a reality that white people are aware of but don’t have to deal with because they are white. Black people have to deal with it which sucks because black people have way more pertinent shit to be concerned about.
Okay. So here it goes. The reminder that has most crying foul and denouncing Rock’s credibility. The audacity of him to recall that not so long ago:
“There were real things to worry about…We were too busy being raped and lynched to worry about who won for Best Cinematography. When your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about Best Documentary”.
There. He said it. It was callous and it was fundamental. It wasn’t funny but there was laughter. How dare he make light of the fact that this was a period in history when being black wasn’t so cool. In fact it was downright deadly decison.
As we all know, not much has changed since the fifties. Being black is still not an ideal disposition. For most, Chris Rock did a disservice to people of color by giving white people a pass they don’t deserve.
Entertaining them with regalia about black grandmothers dangling from trees and other historical fare that nobody ever wants to talk about — especially when they are sitting in a packed auditorium with cameras positioned to catch them unawares.
The genius of it. The juxtaposition of heightened glamor overflowing with greedy abundance and the notion that you are a part of an industry that rapes and lynches opportunities that should be assigned to people who are qualified but because they don’t “look the part” — you benefit from their disadvantage.
Then, once a year — you show up to be rewarded for the good fortune of being white as opposed to being born anything else that would automatically disqualify you from such a favored honor.
It was hands down the most excruciating moment of a night that couldn’t have gone any better. Chris Rock never made a wrong turn. Not once.
He may have let you down but I was soaring — because one thing that can’t be disputed is the fact that the truth is always the truth. Regardless of how it’s delivered.
Would it have been better if the jokes had been delivered with the controlled reverence of an angry black man — with no hints of why this specific comedian was employed in the first place?
Would it have made the white audience squirm with recognition and empathetic horror if the host of the night had been clothed in black from head to toe with black sunglasses to boot while producing his lines in a monotonic haze echoing the likes of Darth Vader or Voldermort?
Just how do you present the damning facts that show without a doubt that white Hollywood doesn’t give a fuck about black people and most likely never will?
You do it by wearing a white suit, by being asked to host the whitest show on television, by being overtly receptive to the fact that you have the power, by using that power to evoke delayed reaction that at the time seems well-played but much later leaves those it was meant for — worse for wear.
You do it by making the trapped suspects in the glitzy room with you, lose control of their facial muscles as they fight with all their might to rely on the acting chops that got them there in the first place.
You do it by challenging your people with the task of trusting that no matter how bad it sounds — not saying it all would be way worse.
You do it by being the black guy who can say whatever the fuck he wants, how he wants when he wants — which in an industry that thrives off of silencing people of color is quite a feat.
Chris Rock has been doing it for a mighty long time. People love him for it and they hate him just as much.
Oscars 2016 was not a crusade — it was another chance for white people who have it all to get together and celebrate the reassurance that they will continue to have it all — at the expense of those who have very little.
But for the first time ever — having it all at the Academy Awards, felt gross and downright criminal. Chris Rock did that. And he did it flawlessly.
The complexity of race is really not that complex at all. It’s as simple as “white liberals” being the “nicest people” until the fate of a black person is in their hands.
The fate of the richest white people on the planet was delegated to a very capable black man on a night when shit could’ve hit the fan.
Shit did hit the roof and it ricocheted from all corners before landing in the bosom of Stacey Dash where it stayed until Fight the Power roared back in view.
Yoou can find a hundred reasons to hate Chris Rock — the morning after. But the truth never fades. He won the only award that mattered that night. And he wore a white tux to accept it.