What is a Black Hollywood anyway?
by Dr Boyce Watkins
When you hear the term "Black Hollywood," a lot of images may come to mind. You might picture your favorite movie stars, the films you've learned to love or perhaps your favorite television networks. That was also the vision that used to come to mind for me. But then I realized something: Most of these images are NOT the property of black people. Most of the African American stars in Hollywood are controlled and managed by people who aren't black, the companies that make our favorite movies typically aren't run by black people, and networks like BET are effectively designed to sell products to black consumers, but have employees who answer to another culture to determine what is acceptable for black public consumption.
Black Hollywood is NOT simply the image of a black person or brand on the screen: It is defined by the generation of extraordinary black people who have learned to finance, produce, market and distribute their own movies. Filmmakers like Ric Mathis, Tiara Williams, Rahiem Shabazz, Dorian Chandler, Tariq Nasheed, Lamar and Ronnie Tyler, Mark Harris and others are not taking the easy route to power. Instead, they are economic explorers, those individuals who are making sacrifices today so that our community can have a stronger economic standing tomorrow.
Every time our economic explorers make a new discovery or achieve another milestone, they are planting a flag for black people that will last for the next 500 years.
Backed by those with extensive networks and economic knowledge like Jay Morrison, Michael Imhotep, Phil Scott, Jamal Brewer and others, these filmmakers are thus able to develop products that often sell in the millions, creating a whole new economy that is controlled by us. They've even created black movie stars like Dr Anthony Browder, Zaza Ali, Umar Johnson, Dr Claud Anderson and many, many more. These are the people we need to hear from, not simply some random black person that was slapped on a movie screen by the Harvey Weinsteins of the world. I'm sick and tired of seeing respected black people sucking up to deranged and disrespectful people all so they can get a chance to feel successful in life. There is no success in selling your soul to make money, there is only deep pocket slavery.
As I read the book, "An Empire of their own: How the Jews invented Hollywood." I've realized that the work being done by the individuals I mentioned above is quite consistent with how the Jewish community came together to build Paramount Pictures, MGM, Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, and more. Rather than simply renting power from those who've obtained it, they made the sacrifices necessary to build their own. Just a few decades later, the small companies they started with peanuts became economic powerhouses. The great mystery for everyone has been, "How did the Jews come to own everything in media?"
The answer is simple: They worked together, sacrificed for their children, developed a long-term vision and worked like hell to ensure that every single one of their kids was armed with the power of brute force economic intelligence.
It's far more effective to develop your own system than to try to survive within a system that is run and controlled by people who don't respect you. This is the economic plight of black people, and this economic disparity spills over into every other aspect of our oppression. The bottom line is that most of us are unable to access the power of true freedom because we've never been taught the extraordinary power of OWNERSHIP. We seek to obtain jobs rather than to create them. We seek to spend rather than save. We borrow rather than invest, all because some white-owned company in blackface has convinced us that we can look superfly while driving to the club in the new Ford Taurus and a pair of thousand dollar Red Bottoms.
I encourage you to teach these lessons to your children, to your community and to anybody who will listen. I implore you to dig deep to understand the foundations of economic power, which must go much further than a filthy paycheck. If we are going to be strong, we must make our children into economic warriors who study harder than everyone else, who make more sacrifices than everyone else, and who are as obsessed with building empires as racists are with keeping us oppressed. We are the kings and queens of this earth, the originators of all things extraordinary, and hold enough power in our DNA to crush any obstacle that gets in our way.
In other words, we are the chosen people, and that's why they fear us.
By working together, making plans and teaching one another, we can not only build a black Hollywood, but develop the substance necessary to be a community that is respected around the world. We can do this.
Dr Boyce Watkins