*Expensive Fellow Black Artists,
What does “black lives matter” imply to you?
Past wanting a direct and closing finish to the years of police brutality and systemic racism we’ve confronted, what different areas of our lives does that highly effective slogan apply?
Everyone knows our painful, 400+ 12 months historical past in America. And regardless of progress, gained within the ’60s by our fearless Civil Rights heroes, we’re nonetheless not free. We gained the precise to combine, however we misplaced one thing rather more useful.
Compelled segregation was unsuitable and immoral, nevertheless it necessitated us doing enterprise with one another. To purchase our personal manufacturers, patronize our personal shops, spend money on our personal banks, and construct our personal communal wealth.
Earlier than they had been destroyed by acts of violent and harsh racism, we had black-run oasis cities comparable to Tulsa, Jackson Ward, and Rosewood, amongst others across the nation.
Although oppressed and segregated and barely up from slavery, we had various thriving black communities and had been striving to construct extra financial energy bases for ourselves.
Our 93 year-young elder, activist Harry Belafonte mentioned that halfway via the Civil Rights Motion, Dr. Martin Luther King realized that the wrestle for integration would in the end develop into a wrestle for financial rights.
To Dr. King’s assertion that he had “built-in black individuals right into a burning home,” Mr. Belafonte requested what ought to we do. And King replied, “Turn into the firemen.”
5 a long time later, in 2020, the home continues to be burning and black individuals want a method out.
Dr. King acknowledged even again then that Reparations is what is required and what’s owed.
However this letter is about what we are able to do NOW to empower ourselves as we proceed ahead within the combat for social justice, financial equality and freedom from systemic oppression on this nation.
I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. King that we should develop into the firemen and save ourselves.
We are able to now not (and by no means might) depend on an institutionally racist system, run by the very perpetrators of our enslavement and oppression to “save us” and provides us justice and equality. Our survival and livelihood should now, and all the time did, depend upon us.
After slavery, we needed to begin from scratch. We by no means bought our promised 40 acres and a mule. And as an alternative of inheriting generational wealth like many whites did, we inherited generational poverty, and trauma that we’re nonetheless scuffling with as a result of we’ve by no means been made complete.
However our spirits stay robust! So robust that our oppressor has discovered methods to capitalize on it and develop into wealthy off our wonderful skills, presents, abilities, and skills. Whereas we keep poor…
We gifted the world our Tradition and Soul, music and artwork. We excel at and grasp each exercise we take part in, to not point out sports activities.
We’re the salt of the earth. With out us, this world can be bland and colorless (no pun meant).
If America was ever “nice”, it’s WE who made it nice. #Information!
So within the spirit of “black lives matter,” I want to suggest that each one of us black artists, celebrities, actors, writers, administrators, filmmakers, musicians, content material producers, influencers, and so forth., construct a community of mutual help amongst one another.
Too many people discover ourselves remoted, alienated and alone, and fall via the cracks, working in an institutionally racist trade that we don’t management and have zero determination making energy in.
A few of us have “made it” and develop into wealthy as people, however collectively we’re in poverty. We have now no communal or collective wealth.
The phrase “Black Hollywood” has no financial which means in any way. We are able to’t go to one another and be like, “such-and-such studios or file firm didn’t put me on, so can you place me on?” The reply isn’t any.
If one in every of us is blackballed within the trade, we are able to’t even assist one another out for concern of being blackballed ourselves. So there isn’t a “black Hollywood.” There are solely black individuals working in Hollywood.
Tyler Perry is the exception. He’s a genius businessman and an instance of what will be completed after we help our personal. However as a gaggle, we don’t have any greenlight energy or run any main studios or theater chains or distribution corporations. And till that modifications, we are going to all the time be within the inferior place of receiving a paycheck quite than issuing one.
It’s the identical in music and sports activities industries. We dominate these industries because the gamers and performers, however we don’t personal any of it.
Whereas our black celebrities and athletes make tens of millions off endorsement offers, the non-black corporations they lend their names to make billions off of them. Actually,
these celebrities will be making these billions for themselves, and for our communities, in the event that they owned the merchandise they had been endorsing.
I don’t want to say any model names – they’re well-known sufficient. However well-known clothes traces, athletic shoe corporations, espresso retailers, and designer purses all have made a killing through the use of our celebrities’ names to promote their merchandise.
Rappers alone have made alcohol manufacturers and style designers well-known by mentioning them of their songs. In the meantime, the businesses who personal these alcohol manufacturers and style traces make billions from the free promoting.
In complete, our skills, abilities and providers are making racist and non-black owned corporations trillions, whereas we’re going deeper and deeper into poverty as a individuals.
In the meantime, the industries we work in are deliberately set as much as pit us towards one another as we compete to get the one or two chosen spots put aside for us.
Because the time our kidnapped ancestors arrived right here in 1619 and had been compelled into slavery, they divided us. A choose few of us had been chosen by “grasp” as fortunate house-slaves, whereas the remainder of us, the bulk, had been the unfortunate discipline slaves.
It’s the identical state of affairs at this time. Solely a fortunate few of us “get picked” and “make it” into the large home, reaching a measure of success in comparison with the plenty of others.
However we should not enable divide-and-conquer to separate us prefer it did again then. These of us who’ve “made it” and people who haven’t could have completely different financial statuses, however we’re all nonetheless slaves on the plantation of racial oppression, and can stay so till we come collectively and construct our personal.
There are numerous methods we can assist help one another and construct communal wealth. We could not all be able to assist one another financially, however we are able to “purchase black”
when attainable and do many different issues, even when it’s simply one thing so simple as sharing a fellow artist’s social media put up or serving to promote an up-and-comer’s work.
Talking on behalf of black filmmakers, our tasks particularly want a whole lot of help. As a result of if our first movie isn’t a “hit”, the trade doesn’t give us a second probability to make one other film. It’s as much as us to advertise our optimistic films, or we are able to’t complain when Hollywood places out some crap that doesn’t characterize us or paints us in a unfavourable mild.
We are able to additionally refer one another for jobs and share data and alternatives amongst ourselves, as a result of when one in every of us will get forward, all of us get forward, as a race.
Allow us to construct an enormous community like different teams have finished so efficiently. It doesn’t price cash. It simply takes unity of thoughts, mission and goal.
If issues are going to alter for us as a gaggle, we should act as a gaggle to free ourselves.
We should promote one another’s companies and merchandise and tasks as in the event that they had been our personal. If we don’t do that for one another, we are able to’t get mad when others don’t do it for us.
There are sufficient black artists in our respective industries, that if all of us supported and lifted one another up, we might all achieve success and rich for generations to return!
From at this time ahead, let’s all start supporting as many fellow black artists as we are able to and show to the world, and most significantly to ourselves, that black CAREERS matter too.
Sincerely, Nnegest Likké
Author-Director-Content material Producer
Nnegest Likké’s credit embrace Fox Searchlight’s “Phat Girlz” and two award-winning indie options, “Ben & Ara”, and “Every part However A Man” popping out at this time (06-11-2020) on the City Film Channel (UMC). Right here is the trailer: