Jewish World Review March 31, 2002/ 18 Nisan, 5762

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Oscars' subtle bigotry was embarrassing | Halle Berry was very good in The Flintstones. Very Victoria's Secret, purring like a kitten, and the perfect contrast to John Goodman's Fred. She's a B movie actress who logged a torrid love scene and apparently a good performance that landed her an Oscar, an achievement second in history, according to her acceptance speech, only to the Emancipation Proclamation and the discovery of penicillin. Her Oscar acceptance performance was right up there with those youthful thespians who play Ado Annie in junior high productions of Oklahoma. Ms. Berry's overacting topped Julia Roberts' yammering, sending a drifting uneasiness through the Kodak Theater with Academy members thinking, "Should have voted for Maggie Smith and a little British class."

This year's Academy Awards were a slap in the face to every black in America. Condescension was transparent. A Marlon Brando snub was called for and instead we suffered through sycophants kneeling at the golden altar of Oscar, symbol of Hollywood decadence, socialism and now racial stratification.

Ms. Berry and Denzel Washington's wins, coupled with Sidney Poitier's longevity award, were Hollywood racial pandering. Mr. Poitier had already won an Oscar in 1963 for The Lilies of the Field, but everyone behaved as if the honorary award, bestowed on the likes of film festival Robert Redford, was magnanimous. Stale and offensive Whoopi Goldberg only added to the descent into mediocrity designed to remedy discrimination. Even with writers, there's not an eloquent voice in Hollywood. Ms. Goldberg has performed better on Hollywood Squares.

This year's Oscars' subtle bigotry was embarrassing. Coupled with Ms. Julia Roberts' affected affection, the event set us back 50 years. Smug moguls ginned up the the "Free at last" theme. This year's Emmys should witness best actor awards for Nickelodeon's Kenan & Kel or the Power Ranger in the black uniform.

Racial sensitivity has moved into outright parody. During the 2002 Winter Olympics, when Vonetta Flowers won a gold medal as part of the U.S. women's bobsled team, commentators' tongues twisted as they documented history. The correct description is, "Ms. Flowers is the first black to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics." Instead, however, the commentators could not bring themselves to say "black," and relied on the politically correct term, "African American." Their conclusion: Ms. Flowers is the first African American woman from any country to win a gold medal. Political correctness found the journalists practicing linguistic jingoism. British African Americans? German African Americans?

Academics, journalists and artificial Hollywood continue the racial divide as they perpetuate the myth of deprivation. A study released last week by the Institute of Medicine, an advisory body to Congress, asserts that race is the cause of differences in access to and quality of medical care. According to the study, blacks and Hispanics receive lesser quality health care even when they have the same levels of insurance. Ergo, and the study labels the findings a "various serious moral issue," doctors and other health care providers are racist.

The study does not address the following: whether those involved sought health care in a timely fashion or waited too long, whether those involved followed doctors' orders once they had entered the health care system (in fact, the study confirms doctors' experience that minority patients do not engage in follow-up care) and whether language is a barrier to effective treatment.

Study recommendations require substantial federal funds: more doctors speaking Spanish; more racial sensitivity from doctors; more training for hospital staff on minority culture; more minority doctors. A non-racial fix never crossed the researcher's minds. Bigots conducting the study fail to acknowledge that, with information about health, health care and health care systems, minorities could function effectively and equally in the same systems that have assimilated immigrants for nearly 100 years.

The arrogant liberal mind assumes that minorities can never solve problems or break down barriers without the assistance of government, programs, affirmative action and give-away Oscars. President Bush's characterization of such programs as soft bigotry is wrong. These condescending programs are racism institutionalized. They guarantee a lesser place in society as they demand dependence on feigned benevolence and discourage self-reliance.

Oscar assumed that without giveaways and special recognition, "people of color," as Ms. Berry describes herself, would never achieve. Mr. Poitier's career is proof that they are wrong. Ironically, Ms. Berry's longwinded lecture on racial barriers ensures that the racial divide continues. Wouldn't it have been lovely for Ms. Berry to recognize her own merit and simply say, "Thank you." She couldn't because Hollywood made certain it preempted her win and her night to preserve the racial divide.

JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


03/22/02: Blame Oprah, Rosie, Sally, Ted, David
03/14/02: The costs of women's feeble choices
03/08/02: Botoxic faces
02/28/02: The dangers of organized philanthropy
02/25/02: Don't take the gold
02/14/02: Ease up on the brothers and sisters
02/11/02: Because I was courted
02/05/02: Fat fault
01/24/02: Tolerance does not mean stupidity
01/17/02: Too old too soon
01/10/02: Ethically challenged firms
01/03/02: The year that was
12/27/01: The Twelve Days of inconsistency
12/20/01: Free Speech and the political spectrum
12/13/01: Curbing brats
12/06/01: Power to influence
11/29/01: The disappearing art of grading
11/21/01: The Big Two-Five
11/13/01: You can never find a lib when you need one
11/01/01: Unlucky in sports
10/26/01: An epidemic of counselitis
10/16/01: A touch of class
10/12/01: Of human nature and monsters
10/05/01: Sensitive man
10/01/01: Post-September 11 security
09/20/01: No tinhorn terrorists can frighten us
09/06/01: If there is no honor in youth sports, it is because of the adults
08/27/01: The draw of Condit
08/23/01: Lowering expectations and flying high
08/17/01: Thoreau, Walden and stems cells
08/13/01: Our masters: The animals
07/30/01: When principle hits too close to home
07/13/01: Rage born of sublimation
07/06/01: Patient's rights and the Valley of Death
06/29/01: There is no excuse
06/21/01: I want an eternal soulmate, but the marriage thing is another issue
06/14/01: Which way maverick McCain? An Arizonan's perspective
06/07/01: No stroke of genius
05/30/01: The lesson of the Mr. Green Jeans senator: 'Moderate' is a classy term for wishy-washy
05/25/01: Baseball has not been so good to me
05/18/01: Clothes make the woman
05/11/01: Selective precaution
05/04/01: Grades: Equality of students, by students, for the students
04/27/01: The Horowitz revelations as seen by a college professor
04/20/01: First, let's kill all the tests
04/13/01: The continuing mistake of underpricing electricity
04/06/01: That pill, Julia Roberts
03/29/01: If it weren't for the parents, we might accomplish something
03/23/01: The melt down of the academy
03/15/01: Columbine redux: Moral infants
03/09/01: The lessons of Tom and Nicole
03/01/01: Pardon the temporary outrage
02/23/01: In defense of homework
02/20/01: A Message for faith-based organizations: Don't take the money, just run
02/06/01: Enough already with the Clintoons
01/26/01: The challenge to be better than we have been
01/19/01: Where have you gone Frieda Pushnik?
12/29/00: The year that was
12/23/00: Litigation: It's the American way
12/15/00: In defense of rhetoric
12/06/00: The company we keep: Lawyers and elections
12/01/00: Liberals' art of trashing of women
11/20/00: Put me out of my misery
11/17/00: On being a statesman
11/13/00: When it's broke, fixing it wouldn't offend the Framers
11/08/00: ELECTION 2000: I SURRENDER
10/27/00: Al in the package? Memo to women: Choosing presidents and husbands
10/20/00: Ten things the gay community should understand
10/13/00: "You Have a Lump."
10/06/00: The government as the pharmacy: Don't
09/29/00: The capacity for truth
09/22/00: Charity with strings and an agenda
09/15/00: The taming of the shrew: Gloria Steinem takes a husband
09/09/00: Why rich folk don't bother me none
08/28/00: Survival of the not-so-fit but conniving
08/25/00: Conventions: A study in contrasts
08/18/00: Resenting the accusations of racial prejudice
08/04/00: Women: Their own worst enemy
07/21/00: Hillary: Our longshoreman First Lady
07/21/00: SUVs: The root of all evil
07/14/00: The basketball gene and white men not jumping so well
07/07/00: I wanna be around
06/23/00: The liberal conversion
06/14/00: Sex and the City: The shallow but vulgar female
06/08/00: No excuses schools
06/02/00: Oh, Canada: Our Nutty Neighbors to the North
05/23/00: The new mollycoddling coach
05/16/00: On adultery and leadership
05/12/00: Taking your lumps
05/02/00: Elian: There's never a liberal around when you need one
04/25/00: Life's circle and tenderness
04/18/00: Womyn who want it both ways
04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
03/28/00: Dr. Laura: The passive/aggressive kid's mom
03/21/00: Dough and campaigns
03/14/00: The volunteerism of conscription and pomp
03/07/00: Hope and pray that religion remains a force in politics
02/29/00: Ditzes in TV Land
02/22/00: Cranky nitpickers make writing a [sic] experience
02/15/00: Those chameleon 60s activists
02/08/00: McCandidate McCain: Flirting with principles
02/01/00: The demise of marriage
01/25/00: Stroke of the pen, law of the land: Clinton's Camelot
01/18/00: Off the Rocker Rorschach Test
01/11/00: Oprah's lemmings
01/04/00: Struggling mightily amidst the comfort
12/23/99: Confused fathers
12/14/99: Drop-kicking the homeless
12/07/99: Turtles and teamsters, side-by-side in Seattle
11/29/99: When conservatives behave badly
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11/18/99: The elusive human spirit and accountability
11/11/99: Succumbing to the intellectual child within with the help of crackpots and screwballs
10/28/99: Live by litigation, die by litigation
10/22/99: Jesse, Warren, Cybill, Donald and Oprah
10/14/99: Inequality and injustice: It's the big one
10/05/99: Dan Quayle, morals and schoolyard bullies
09/30/99: The monsters of epidermal parenting
09/21/99: The Diversity Hoax
09/15/99: Waco Wackos
09/09/99: Selective censorship
09/01/99: The village, the children, judicial imperialism and abortion
08/24/99: Naughty Newt?
08/17/99: In defense of Boy Scouts and judgment
08/10/99: Ruining the finest health care system in the world
08/03/99: Nihilism and politics: ethics on the lam
07/26/99: Of women, soccer and removed jerseys
07/23/99: Not in despair, a mere mortal doing just fine
07/20/99: "Why me?" How about "Why us?"
07/13/99: Bunk, junk & juries
07/06/99: An Amish woman in a Victoria's Secret store
06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
06/24/99: Patricia Ireland eat your heart out --- but check out the recipe in 'women's mags' first
06/22/99: Dems and the Creator coup
06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings