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ARTHUR BRUZZONE

How Racial Preferences Mar Achievement

April 1, 2002

 

This year's Oscar Awards offer best case for eliminating race as a factor in rewarding individual achievement throughout American institutions. For, when there is the perception that race has been factored into achievement, the achievement itself becomes irrefutably tainted.

As was revealed in their post-award press conferences, no one should want colorblind evaluation more than this year's winners for best actress and best actor awards, Halle Berry and Denzel Washington. But unfortunately, racism as practiced by the hustlers in the reparations and affirmative action "community" is a multi-billion dollar industry; it won't be eliminated in the foreseeable future.

There's a tradition at each Oscar awards ceremony. Following the announcement of the awards for best actor and actress, the program director takes close-ups of the other nominees to get reaction shots. This year, close-ups of the non-winners caught a far different emotion.

Several nominees, including Russell Crowe, nominated for his role in "A Beautiful Mind", visibly showed anger and contempt. Whether appropriately or not, they telegraphed through their body language their belief that racial preference had been instilled into Hollywood's coveted award ceremony.

The irony is that earlier in the evening the Academy awarded Sidney Poitier an honorary award for 40 years of acting excellence. Poitier, as he said in his eloquent speech, achieved through personal character. He didn't need and didn't have an environment of preferences; he had courage, persistence and undeniable talent. As he said in his acceptance speech, "Back then, no route had been established for where I was hoping to go, no pathway left in evidence for me to trace, no custom for me to follow."

Then there were the comments by this year's winners of best actress and best actor. What Halle Berry said in her acceptance speech and what she said during her post-award press meeting differed starkly.

On stage she emotionally highlighted the racial dimension of her award. But after the awards ceremony, while addressing the Hollywood press corps, she projected herself as a professional actor. She said she was proud of earning and executing a demanding part in a complex film. Berry did talk briefly about the "glass ceiling" which had been broken for female actors of color. But a majority of the questions related to her performance in "Monster Ball." In fact, she handled herself no differently than the other actresses who had achieved the award before her.

Denzel Washington was even more insistent on removing race from the award in his post-award press meeting. At one point, he was asked his reaction to the anticipated headlines the next day, "Black actor wins Best Actor". He was asked did he hope a day would come when race wouldn't be included in such a headline. He said to the reporter, that we don't have to wait for some time in the future. He told the reporter do it the next day in his story.

But as these two actors showed, you can't have it both ways. You either have a colorblind matrix to decide achievement, or you accept preference based on race. Unfortunately, preferences and the perpetuation of race as a factor in our schools, colleges, and business places are now a growth industry.

Shelby Steele wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal, "America not only made racial disparities profitable but also generated a vast civil-rights grievance industry that has been far more obsessed with finding disparities than with helping people overcome deprivation". The shakedown has risen to a new level through the current wave of reparation claims and lawsuits against major corporations.

In the same article, Steele makes a convincing case for the proposed California Racial Privacy Initiative (RPI). This ballot initiative, which is gaining signatures for next November's ballot in California, will prohibit state agencies from classifying Californians by race, ethnicity, color or national origin for any purpose having to do with public education, contracting, or employment.

No one more than Halle Berry and Denzel Washington should want this initiative to pass in November. Then their awards wouldn't be tainted. Their awards would be viewed for what they are: acknowledgement of extraordinary dramatic performance by a actor and actress in a professional feature film production. Nothing more, and nothing less.

 

Award-winning TV producer, talk show host, and Republican leader Arthur Bruzzone has written over 150 political articles for national and regional media, and has commented on political issues for American and European television and radio networks.  His articles and columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Campaign & Elections Magazine, among other publications.

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