What is a hidden fence exactly?
That must be what Pharrell was asking himself when he looked away from Jenna Bush for that beat and half at the Golden Globes last night.
If a hidden fence were a real thing, it might be a lot like racism; A sturdy barrier that’s invisible to the naked eye. The kind people will tell you to “just get over” as they slip their key in the gate and strut through.
An American model might be stainless steel with barbed wire and electric currents running through it. Or it could just be a pretty white picket fence reinforced by deep-seated cultural warfare, shamelessly biased policies and a militarized police force.
A hidden fence lets people know they’re unwelcome just as clearly as “Beware of Dog” or “Whites Only” signs; Or Freudian slips that conflate Blackness. Subtle reminders that all Black movies look alike in a White world.
Why we can’t just focus on all of the good of the night? Why can’t we just be happy with Moonlight‘s big win?
Or Tracee Ellis Ross‘ historic evening?
Because Casey Affleck didn’t have to jump half the fences Nate Parker did to outrun his childhood sins.
And because if we entrusted them to write history, we’d be renamed and shamed everytime. If not erased completely.
We shouldn’t have to lick our lips, bite our tongues or rush to comfort grown adults who might be embarrassed by their own lack of professionalism. Everyone makes mistakes. But only fools refuse to examine their errors and seek correction.
Those we honor should never feel awkward or uncomfortable. And these insecurities aren’t imagined. The fence is invisible, not imaginary, remember?
Nobody is saying Michael Keaton and Jenna Bush are evil for their errors.
But their bloopers were ugly reminders of the lack of diversity that inspired the renaissance of Black media last night’s ceremony showcased.
The Twitter Gods roasted Michael and Jenna thoroughly, turning negative to positive energy, as we always find a way to do. But these memories should be about history in the making. Not squeezing lemonade out of lemons.
Hidden Figures, Fences, Moonlight, Atlanta and Insecure are a mean starting five on any Hollywood court, and they’re worth more than 3/5th’s of everyone’s memory banks.
But America’s hidden fences will continue to gaslight Black Americans, along with other oppressed groups; Insisting that our trauma is not relevant or substantial. That our suffering is our own fault.
Last night could have put a slight crack in that fence; Since we’d be naive to expect a true breakthrough in the next four years. But last night’s ceremony just reinforced the barriers and raised the stakes. Along with the eternal question:
When will we stop climbing their invisible fence and build our own?