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We Black folk often enough feel that we are near drownin

“We Black folk often enough feel that we are near drowning, as we remain locked in a system that marginalizes us. The barrier-breaking wins of this season’s Academy Awards only prove my point: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, only the fourth Black American to win a directing Oscar (all have been in documentary categories); Ariana DeBose, the first Afro-Latina to win an Oscar; and, after 50 years, 152 films and $27 billion in box office receipts, Samuel Jackson finally was chosen to receive an honorary Oscar. Had that slap taken place on the A train, at the cookout or anywhere else around the way, Black folk everywhere could all agree that that was some foolishness. Meaning that the slap never should have happened. As bestselling Black woman writer Tina McElroy Ansa perfectly said on Twitter, “All he had to do was reach over, squeeze her hand and say to her, ‘Fuck him! We got this, babe.’ Then sit back and start revising his acceptance speech.” Note that Sister Tina does not suggest that Will shouldn’t have protected his wife. I mean, that’s his wife…  I do not fear the white gaze as I drop, viscerally, into a well of Black pain: In Will’s initial laugh, the weight of always needing to be affable, especially in white spaces, even when the joke’s on him. In his sudden decision to rise and approach Chris, the patriarchy’s compulsory performance of strong manhood. In the slap, a hyper-masculine response consistent with America’s punitive justice system. In ‘take my wife’s name out your fucking mouth,’ the release of suppressed anger in the form of toxic masculinity. And, in the tears that fell during his acceptance speech, genuine hurt. (I know, he’s an actor, but…)”

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