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Is The NAACP "Image Award Committee" Losing Its Way?

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When I was growing up as a child I would sometimes do some silly things and my mom would ask, “Boy have you lost your mind?” To me the implication was that I was not stupid or anything but had temporarily deviated from the family and community norms and teachings. Of course I would think not until after the verbal and physical discipline with a “talking to” afterward that made things a little clearer to me.

While at the state training for NAACP branch officers this week, it was learned that some people wanted to nominate Michael Jackson’s televised funeral to get an award as a variety show.

After doing some investigating of other nominees, I learned that some of the Image Award nominees were not people of color. Being of color is not the sole criteria but my immediate reaction was “NAACP have you lost your way” and have you forgotten why the Image Awards were created in the first place? It was because Hollywood was not recognizing our African American actors nor our contributions to the entertainment industry. Even though they recognize us today in some ways, they still do not do business with Black owned entrepreneurs in numbers consistent with our population. That is another topic for another day.

In my humble opinion a funeral should never be put up for any kind of award because of the reverence of the event. There are long held traditions of how we celebrate the homegoing of our loved ones and giving out awards is not on the list. If you want to pay tribute to Michael, then present something to the family recognizing his contributions to the arts of which there are many. Michael was a singer, dancer, writer, actor and in the movie “This is it” of his practice sessions for his last tour he was a perfectionist and choreographer as well. I want to commend California NAACP State President Alice Huffman and the 62 other presidents for alerting the national office not to include the funeral of Michael Jackson in the Variety/Entertainment category.

The other issue is the nomination of Sandra Bullock as an outstanding actress in a motion picture from Warner Bros about a White female helping a Black man that is now in the professional football league. “The Blind Side,” is a wonderful story but if anyone is to get an award, it should be the lady, Leigh Anne Tuohy, who did it in real life. First let me say I am a fan of Sandra Bullock for her performance in Crash and A Time To Kill. Both of these pictures dealt with real racial issues that we face in America but I don’t see how her playing the role of a woman who helps an individual Black youth is rises to the level of social justice.

According to the NAACP website, the mission of “The NAACP Image Awards is the nation’s premier event celebrating the achievement and performance of people of color in the arts (motion picture, television, recording and literature), as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors.” Given that as its mission, to me promoting social justice would mean awarding major studios for hiring more Blacks behind the camera, advertising in Black-owned media, contracting with Black owned vendors, and encouraging the development of Black run production studios. To my knowledge Sandra Bullock has not reached that level of social activism, nor has Warner Bros., Columbia Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, Screen Gems, Overtures Films, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Twenty Century Fox and others that NAACP has on its list of awardees.

Now I don’t know how the nominations are made but the committee needs to take a closer look at the nomination process and the mission statement of the committee before they are released for voting. I don’t think that the National leadership has lost their mind but I do think the Image Award Committee is losing its way.

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