To be a black woman and discuss racial biases takes courage. To discuss the biases of Hollywood in a sea of white fellow actors takes a queen.
This queen goes by the name of Viola Davis, who took the crown for becoming the first black woman to win an Emmy on Sunday for a lead role in a primetime series.
As the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards took place, there were several black women who took home the gold, including Regina King (American Crime) and Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black).
Opening her speech by quoting Harriet Tubman, Davis spoke on the hardships that Black women face in America when it comes to obtaining leading roles.
Before she gave shout-outs to other black actresses who are currently dominating the primetime television slots with shows like “Scandal,” “Empire” and “How To Get Away With Murder,” Davis touched on the divide between black women and the rest of the film industry.
“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there,” Davis said.
It has only been within these past few years that we have seen black women come into starring roles on primetime television, and Davis’ win only speaks to the achievement that they’re coming into now.
In the shadows of so many hardships faced by the black community, it’s absolutely empowering to see this win occur. With this small victory, actresses like Davis are showing the world that black is as important as it is beautiful.
However, there were some who did not share in the joy of the black community. Namely Nancy Lee Grahn, a rather non-famous soap opera actress who took to Twitter to share her unwarranted feelings on Davis’ win.
“I’m a f*cking actress for 40 yrs.” Grahn tweeted on Sunday night. “None of us get respect or opportunity we deserve. Emmys not venue 4 racial opportunity. ALL woman belittled.”
While her comment does bring up a good point about women in the entertainment industry, the act of her downplaying the point of Davis’ speech caused Twitter to go into a frenzy in defense of Davis and the black community.
Though Grahn has since apologized for her comments, her actions bring up another issue: diminishment.
In the age of social reform for people of color, the #BlackLivesMatter movement is continually silenced with a proverbial white hand. This counter intuitively preaches that all lives should matter, which completely disregards the point of this movement.
#BlackLivesMatter ties a movement relating to societal acceptance of the black community and its place in society.
In this case, Grahn was the proverbial white hand trying to cover the powerful mouth of Viola Davis, and many other black actresses.
Of course I believe that all women should be respected more in the entertainment industry. But when a majority of women in the industry are white, it’s comically easy for a woman like Nancy Grahn to speak on how inclusive Hollywood should be when it’s not her Hollywood is discriminating against. It’s this whiteout that endangers all that women of color are fighting for.
Realizing her wrongs, Nancy Grahn is currently living in slight shame and probably dreading articles like this that don’t contour her as nicely as Photoshop. Fortunately for you Nancy, some good did come out of what you said; people now believe more than ever that the black community matters, whether it’s in society or in Hollywood; and Viola Davis will probably win more Emmys than you’ll be able to count.
Hail to the Queen.