(www.BlackPressRadio.com) – Selma is an emotion-packed work for Black America.
Selma is not just a town in America. It’s not just a movie on the big screen. Selma is a movement, a mentality, a part of our past so painful it’s hard to think about sometimes.
The movie, “Selma,” the first-ever motion picture about Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement directed by Ava Duvernay is causing international ripples as much for its compelling content and images as for its controversial, reverse racism off-screen actions.
Take the case of light-skinned Beyoncé dissing dark-skinned singer Ledisi and demanding to sing “Precious Lord” on the Grammys earlier this month. According to John Legend, “No one says no to Beyoncé.” The backlash of that moment in Black history was instant and unyielding sparking this author to write “Jigaboos vs. Wannabees: The Grammys shows its true colors.”
Although the heat of that somewhat died down, the raging fire was fed yet again just two weeks later when John Legend, Common took the stage to perform the song, “Selma” on the 87th Annual Oscars Awards. Hours before, director Duvernay asked Rev. Sharpton and other protestors to call off the protest because she didn’t want to be remembered for race relations. Her film only got respect because African Americans protested the otherwise racist experience of the Oscars but Duvernay was concerned about how the protest would look to others.
Just a few days before her decision to stop the protest, another Black actress finally had her say. Mo’ Nique, who won an Oscar for her role in Lee Daniels’ movie, “Precious,” admitted she’d been blackballed after winning the award. At the Oscar ceremony as John and Common performed, two grown men, one African actor named David Oleyowo and one White, Chris Pine, began to cry. As the African sat next to his White wife, many on social media began to “go in” making comments on what it felt like to watch him cry as he sat next to a White woman. While it may have made for an interesting TV moment, Oleyowo’s marriage is sort of what Dr. King fought for so anyone who was offended by it clearly misses the point of the dream.
But perhaps the most telling story of the Selma movie controversy is the dissing of the song’s writer. As Duvernay, Common, John Legend, Oleyowo and Oprah all reap riches from “Selma,” Che “Rhymefest” Smith, wrote the hit “GLORY” but the Grammy-award winning songwriter who also wrote Kanye’s “Jesus Walks,” is now forced to raise funds for his third studio CD on social media. This is unforgivable and must not go unnoticed.
He is considered to Black, too strong and too real for hip hop labels, yet everytime he writes people win Grammys and Oscars. It’s time to scream: “Justice for Rhymefest!”
Rhymefest spoke on the issue:
“Common and I asked for the blessings of the ancestors before we began writing “Glory.” Over the years I’ve realized the kind of music I am put here to make: movement music. We have many movements in the world today, and not enough great music to fuel them. “Glory” is one of my greatest contributions. When you think about “movement music,” it has to be a collaboration of many minds, talents and characters. I’ve had the opportunity to not only work with Kanye and Common, but also produce my own music and help some young people that the world will soon hear from. Historically, the best movement music mirrors is the movement itself, and my goal is to continue in that tradition,” Rhymefest said in an interview.
Over the years when writers call out the “establishment” for doing the Black community wrong, they are rewarded by being denied media credentials or blackballed in some way. If that happens, so be it. This injustice must be told.
Rhymefest was left out of the Grammy’s honor for his own song. Rhymefest was left out of the Oscar honor his own song. During Black History Month a Black songwriter was dissed by Black people on a world stage.
It doesn’t take Kanye to bum rush the stage to say that “Rhymefest is one of the greatest songwriters of his generation” for us to realize the reverse racist movement that surrounds the “New Selma.” The message of the New Selma is very clear: It is profitable to profit from Black pain.
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DC Livers is a syndicated columnist who has been published or written about in over 200 publications including PoliteonSociety.com and other print publications and websites in the U.S. and Western Africa. She is founder of the Historical Black Press Foundation and a champion for Black America’s digital rights. She is author of Who’s Who in Black Media.
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