By Louis R. Avallone
We’re not going there. We’re just not going there.
And it’s not because of how white I am, or that you’re not “black enough” to understand. It’s because we must remember that God created only one race, and that’s the human race. “God is not interested in merely in the freedom of black men and brown men and yellow men”, explained Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963, “God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race.”
Yet recent news reports in our nation seems to tell a different story today, and it’s one that seems increasingly obsessed with the colors of our skin, rather than the content of our characters; of what divides us, rather than what strengthens us. So when Al Sharpton announced last week that he was “appalled” that there were so many “white” Oscar nominees, and that he was calling an “emergency meeting next week in Hollywood” to discuss possible action around the Academy Awards, we just have to say, as a nation, “That’s it, we’ve had enough.”
“We’ve had enough” of those who encourage the worst in us, and who inspire others to live down to the lowest common denominator of fear by assuming the worst, instead of multiplying what’s best within us.
Do you know what it takes to get nominated for an Academy Award? There are 6,000 voting members who fill-out ballots and the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers tabulates the voting, in a process that takes an estimated 1,700 man-hours to complete…hardly an opportunity for a smoke-filled, backroom gathering of prejudiced white folks to start scratching people’s names off the ballots.
Maybe the make-up of the voting membership of the Academy needs some new recruits to improve diversity. After all, people younger than 50 years old make-up just 14% of the Academy today. Or maybe there are not enough women who are voting, since less than 25% of the voting membership is female. Or maybe the Academy should recruit more blacks and Latinos into their membership rolls, since blacks and Latinos combined make-up less than 4% of the membership.
Whichever way you look at it, if Al Sharpton’s “emergency meeting” in Hollywood is about starting a membership drive for the Academy of Motion Pictures, so that future nominees might reflect a more diverse membership, he may be headed in the right direction. But for him to be “appalled”, come on now.
You know who should be appalled? We should be. We should be appalled that our media, and the White House, continues to refer to this man as a “reverend” when he has never led a church, has never authored any books on the Bible, and his vocabulary is seemingly devoid of any Christian principles of salvation, forgiveness, or repentance. He was “ordained” by a Pentecostal minister at 10 years old, and apparently preached his first sermon before he could read or write.
“Reverend” is a title of respect, not one that you give a 10-year old. It’s not a title that we give to those who pour gasoline on the fires of riots, such as in 1991 when Sharpton went to Brooklyn to mobilize hundreds of demonstrators to march in Jewish neighborhoods, chanting, “No justice, no peace.” In that demonstration, a rabbinical student was caught up in the mob led by Sharpton, and was stabbed to death.
In 1995, Sharpton’s National Action Network set up picket lines protesting a building owner in Harlem who was not renewing the lease of a minority business because another tenant was willing to pay more for that space. The result was one of the protesters setting the building on fire, and seven (7) people died.
And what happened last month? With the execution of those New York police officers? The murderer attributed his motive to revenge, and his cowardly act came only days after Sharpton led protesters through the streets of New York City chanting, “What do we want? Dead cops! When do what them? Now!”
Forgive me, “reverend” Sharpton, but if you want to do some real good for the country, and heal any wounds, then stop all of your shenanigans, pray for peace, and follow the example, in the words Martin Luther King, Jr. and “get the weapon of non-violence, the breastplate of righteousness, the armor of truth, and just keep marching” on for what you believe.
But for anything less than that…we’re just not going there anymore.