I will always remember 2014 as the year America was reminded of its social issues. On the heels of the popularization of “post-racial,” the universe stood puzzled at our collective blindness and punished our hubris by revealing Donald Sterling, Sony emails and Don Lemon journalism. None of these things were new; we just collectively packed away and ignored them, like “organizing” your room by piling all your loose belongings in an overstuffed closet. The year came with other reminders as well, from cultural appropriation to domestic abuse and corrupt policing. For many of us, 2014 was the reminder we never needed.
Following the release of Donald Sterling’s voicemails and news of his history being brought to public light, fans promised a boycott at the same time others searched Hub Stub for reduced ticket prices. In the first home game following the news, reports claimed the Golden State Warriors were prepared to shake hands with the Clippers and walk off the court, refusing to play if Sterling was present. He was banned from the game and the show went on so we didn’t see if the players had the fortitude to back their claims, but the whole fiasco begged the question – how do my convictions weigh against my entertainment?
A person can be an artist of anything – for an actor, their art can be a film; for a chef, their lasagna. I can cherish the beauty of someone’s work without consideration of his or her history, relationships or personal life. Or can’t I? As consumers of art, when do we separate the art from the artist?
When it comes to being aware as a media consumer, sometimes I feel like Cypher in The Matrix:
“I know what you’re thinking, ’cause right now I’m thinking the same thing… I’ve been thinking it ever since I got here: Why, oh why, didn’t I take the blue pill?”
One of my favorite quotes is an inspirational line attributed to Bill Cosby. I recited it to myself in times of intimidation, fear and nervousness. It was the entire movie of 8 Mile encapsulated in a dozen words, with Rabbit making eye contact in the mirror through his black eye. It says, “You have to want it more than you are afraid of it.” In light of the flood of sexual misconduct claims against Cosby and his handling of the allegations, I found myself uncomfortable with my favorite quote.
Read more from Jordan Calhoun at Black Nerd Problems