Diversity in Circular Firing Squads


The unending stream of “articulate,” impassioned and masterful debates, calls-to-arms, sharp-witted defenses, withering attacks and counterattacks, backbiting between once best friends now mortal enemies, vitriolic accusations flying across stages lined with high profile wealthy celebrities, and even threats not to attend the main event, with The POTUS himself entering the fray and weighing in on the fracas.

No, it’s not the GOP field of Presidential candidates.

It’s African American Hollywood stars.  Apparently, the GOP isn’t the only group that can quickly form a circular firing squad.

Here’s the Readers’ Digest version.

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith were dazed and angered when Will Snith wasn’t named an Oscar Nominee for his starring performance in “Concussion.” Fortunately for the Smiths, neither were any other African American actors. Mrs. Smith had race-based grounds to publicly go ballistic and viral on video.

Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee announced that they wouldn’t attend, implying a boycott of the Academy Awards, which was coincidentally to be hosted by Chris Rock, his only award to be a large check at the end of the night.

What should Chris Rock do if there’s a wholesale Black Boycott? Well, there wouldn’t be a Pinkett Line to cross. So he could follow Peter Bart’s suggestion, who said in essence (not the magazine), ‘Just be smart about it.’ (As if Rock needed that particular sage advice.)

Chris Rock’s first move? He takes to Twitter “to call the Oscars by a different name. “The White BET Awards…” which, in theory, would make it okay for the Smiths and Spike Lee to attend. And the melee was on. It escalated from one show business family’s disappointment to an all out feud between BET and The Motion Picture Academy’s Awards Committee.

And then, FOX News unleashed Stacey Dash. Why did they do that?

Let’s think about why.

Before that full interview was finished, if you listened carefully, you could hear the literary guns cocking all over the country.  No sooner had Dash fired off a few rounds at fellow Blacks, Black holidays and Black networks than the knee-jerk “diversityism” race to fire back was on.

The floodgates were open, shots fired at Stacey Dash were ringing out from everywhere in the black community, from the POTUS, Barack Obama, who issued a soundbite on the matter:

Diversity is about ‘everyone getting fair shot.’

…to rapper Dee-1, and his straight man, Republican Presidential Candidate Dr. Ben Carson, both of whom fired low caliber shots, not to kill…merely to graze.  Dr. Carson admitted to knowing Dash well, and could therefore take a credible run at offering a reasonable explanation of her well-intended but perhaps mangled meaning.

Carson’s comments on ethnic diversity and his list of Black history month icons were impressive. Dee-1’s open confession of a childhood crush on Dash was touching. Neither the Candidate for POTUS nor the influential entertainment star decried the paucity of minority-owned major movie production studios, or the African American community’s inability to give it’s  own monetarily equivalent  awards or nominations. Not a word.

The national dialog had suddenly veered from The Academy or the African American incapacity to produce its own movies and awards, and was solidly focused on Black History Month.

Even Luke Visconti’s Diversity, Inc. joined the Dash hunt.  Visconti loosed Raymond M. Brown, a citizen and practicing attorney in New Jersey. Loaded to bear, Brown wrote a searing piece, skewering Dash, “In Support of Black History Month: An Open Letter to Fox Commentator Stacey Dash.” The accolades in the superlative-laden comments that followed were nearly unanimous in their animus toward Dash (not FOX), with Luke Visconti (a.k.a., “Ask the White Guy”) himself taking the lead in squelching any “diverse” opinions.

Over on LinkedIn, where even there, Blacks were taking aim at Stacey Dash for her commentary, again, one more thing seemed to get lost in the sauce of the “racialized” conversation about who was deserving of awarding and being awarded…even among people who should know better.

BET is a “black-oriented network,” but absolutely not a black owned network. All the fracas about it, including Ms. Dash’s commentary, is generating revenues galore for FOX News vs. BET vs. The Motion Picture Academy Awards vs. Diversity, Inc.  vs. a host of others cashing in on it.

Publicly held VIACOM owns BET, not the Smiths or Spike Lee. It’s not a minority owned company — anymore. (In fact, Sheila Johnson, former co-owner of BET expressed shame at what the network had become within only a short time after its sale to Viacom.) Neither is the Motion Picture Academy minority owned. Neither is Diversity, Inc. Neither is FOX News.

Somehow, The Motion Picture Academy had slipped out of the media cross hairs, and talented Blacks around the nation were shooting at each other in the media.  How did that happen?

These media giants had managed to quickly realign “articulate Blacks” in a kind of circular firing squad, starting with The Academy, shaking their finger back at BET’s lack of White award winners, FOX News passing the ammunition to Dash to lament the need for Black History Month, and even Diversity, Inc. jumping into the fray, handing a full clip to a lawyer to fire off high caliber literary gems at Dash, and, of course, FOX replaying Dash shooting her opinions at some who she characterized as wanting to “have it both ways.”

Whether it’s BET or The Academy or Diversity, Inc., it’s all white owned organizations giving out the awards. Sure, there are middle-man judges in each racialized market camp. And the occasional award goes to a majority member at BET or a minority member at the Oscars, or a Corporate member at Diversity, Inc.  But where do all of the awards come from? Ultimately, the majority-white owners and controlling interests.*

And…they couldn’t buy this kind of pregame publicity. People are tossing it at them in bunches, like they’re standing in the middle of one of those money-blowing machines with advertising revenues flying like greenbacks swirling all around them in their tempest-filled “Cash Cube.”

With America knowing that the Oscars would be whiter than it has been in a good number of years, as it turns out, the 2016 Oscars audience GREW overall by 3% over last year, according the the Wall Street Journal.  The ABC television network saw its Oscars audience grow a whopping 14%, its biggest growth number in five years.

This, folks, is how to manage diversity.

Has anybody considered that the whole brouhaha is a shell game, and between The Academy and FOX and VIACOM, and, yes, Diversity, Inc., they’re laughing all the way to the bank?

 Advertisers used the show as a platform to introduce new ads, much as they have done with the Super Bowl for many years.

Yes, The Diversity Paradigm failed again!  Or, did it?

Minorities and professional D&I Advocates are lobbying for “more diversity” while more money from the controversy-generated ratings boost swirls right by them. Black show business megastars are focused on the show and not thebusiness. How so?

A half-century down Hollywood’s Diversity Road, blacks suffer acute insufficiency of ownership in film production studios and access to risk capital to produce their own stories. Minority fandom is so caught up in whether or not there’s symbolic diversity coming their way among awards programs, they’ve ignored that there’s  no revenue coming in to their communities from the same. The awards diversity dialogue is a clear misdirection, when after five decades and 100 or so African American Oscar winners/nominees and countless entertainers, there’s no major independent minority outlet for their work.

The Diversity Paradigm has taught America to celebrate differences while masking, in this case for example, that there’s not much meaningful progressto celebrate since Sidney Poitier.  Change shouldn’t be confused with progress. After a half-century of American Diversity Training, the big money can fly right past everyone, and fairly high ranking celebs in the industry seem ignore it, too preoccupied with exchanging pot shots over “diversity” issues.

Could that be the real “business case for diversity?

Copyright © 2016 – Robert D. Jones – All Rights Reserved


*Footnote:  Morningstar Report:  Class A Board of Directors:  Charles E. Phillips (born June 1959 in Little RockArkansas) is the CEO of Infor, a company that specializes in enterprise software applications for specific industries, and he is also on the board of directors. Prior to joining Infor, Phillips was co-president and director of Oracle Corporation from 2003 through 2010, and a Managing Director in the technology group at Morgan Stanley from 1994 to 2003. He is also a director at Viacom Corporation

Cultural neutrality” is achieved through an operationalized “attitude of impartiality.” Everybody has one or more cultures, and everyone is embroiled in or affected by related intercultural conflict. The CultureNeutral® Framework is a system of thought and action that provides a manageable space in which to disengage from needless intercultural conflicts, and better manage a wide range of normal conflict by applying the principle of neutrality personally, in our families, workplaces, communities, and citizenships.

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