Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Thursday, January 10, 2008


    On Tuesday, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) announced the nominations for the 39th Annual NAACP Image Awards. Congratulations to Maurice Jamal's Dirty Laundry, which was nominated for Outstanding Independent or Foreign Film. This is a huge statement for black LGBT films and projects. Considering Punks, Brother to Brother and Noah's Arc (see Jasmyne Cannick's post back in January 2006) received no nominations.

    The NAACP is notoriously a conservative organization. Having a Bachelor’s in African-American Studies, I am well versed on the critiques of the NAACP throughout history. The legendary Marcus Garvey famously called the NAACP, "National Association for the Advancement of (Certain) Colored People", arguing they only accepted light-skin people within their organization. Garvey once ranted, "Between the Ku Klux Klan and the [NAACP], give me the Klan for their honesty of purpose towards the Negro! They are better friends of my race, for telling us what they are, and what they mean.”

    Whatever the case, the NAACP made incredible accomplishments in the lives of African-Americans. With that said, right about now I have an issue...the NAACP had the audacity to nominate Angelia Jolie as best actress for her black/brown face role in A Mighty Heart and nominated the film, along side Dirty Laundry, for Outstanding Independent or Foreign Film. In case you forgot, there was some controversy about Jolie playing the widow of Daniel Pearl, Mariane Pearl, a woman of color.

    Five-time Image Award nominee, Thandie Newton, was perplexed at the selection of Jolie. In October 2006 Newtown said, "God I'm shocked. She's been blacked up to play a black woman." Adding, "It's an absolutely fantastic role; I would loved to have played it."

    In October of 2006 Keith Boykin stated, “When Hollywood finds a story of a black woman, why would they pick a white woman to play the role?” When I covered the story I said, “When I heard Jolie was playing Mariane Pearl I didn't think it was a big deal. I said, ‘Well if the character's race is not important to the plot—who cares? It's not like Jolie is starring in a remake of Queen.’ However, when I saw the picture of Jolie in light-skinned black face, darker than Mariane Pearl, I was mortified!”

    Can you imagine if the ALMA (Latin) Awards gave Al Pacino a Lifetime Achievement Award for playing Tony Montana, a Cuban character, in Scarface? Why don't we just cast Pamela Anderson in the life story of Coretta Scott King and have the NAACP honor her with a nomination! Question - how successful do you think Angela Bassett would be if she auditioned to play the role of Jackie Onassis with some white face paint? Hell, let's just go all the way and have the Olsen twins play Nina Simone!

    I understand the need for ratings, but the NAACP could've been a bit more socially responsible and honored Jolie with a "humanitarian award". Jolie in black face is exactly what the NAACP should’ve spoken against versus honoring it. Furthermore, the fact that NAACP not only nominated the movie, but also Jolie's performance, is even more bizarre. There are other black women who could've received the nomination--like Loretta Devine in Dirty Laundry.

    The NAACP should be ashamed of themselves. Maybe if Thandie would've starred in A Mighty Heart she wouldn't have taken a role in that God awful movie Norbit! The true shocker would be if Angelina won...

    Click here for a complete list of NAACP nominations.

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 22 comments

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