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22 Sep, 2021 09:00

The Emmys were too white? Oh please, give up this obsession with people’s skin colours and concentrate on talent

The Emmys were too white? Oh please, give up this obsession with people’s skin colours and concentrate on talent

As a person of colour, I want to win awards for the work I do - not because of the colour of my skin. White actors walked away with all the major awards not because of discrimination, but due to their performances.

A Twitter trend, #EmmysSoWhite, caused a stir on social media this week, with the primetime Emmy Awards show marred by accusations of a lack of diversity and inclusion. 

“#EmmysSoWhite No actors of color won an Emmy, despite a record nominee lineup,” read one tweet. Not to miss out, Variety magazine stated, “#EmmysSoWhite: The Emmy Awards were unable to capitalize on its historic and diverse nomination fields, with all major acting trophies going to white actors.”

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Hollywood Report also took exception, stating: “Although performers from the global majority comprised 44 percent of acting nominees, they were shut out at the 73rd Primetime Emmys.” And the LA Times moaned: “The Emmys tried to look diverse. But the show gave us predictable white winners”

These are quite some worldviews: it seems that the only standard to hold minorities to is their skin colour, rather than their talents, hard work and achievements.

As a “person of colour,” I don’t believe this should be the view of anyone who wants to be successful and accomplish great things. People like me want to win awards based on our accomplishments, not because of our racial heritage.

Clearly, ethnic-minority stars are perfectly capable of reaching high reaching positions, as a record number of non-white creatives were nominated for the Emmys because of their cinematic achievements. (Just the weekend before, at the Creative Arts Emmys, three of the four winning actors were black - did #EmmysSoBlack start trending on Twitter or any headlines scream about white actors being ‘shut out’?)

The mainstream establishment seems to want to treat awards ceremonies as a box-ticking assignment, seeking to mandate the handing out of gongs to non-white people for reasons of “diversity.”

Evidently, there are plenty of talented actors from minority ethnic groups and their numbers are flourishing. To imply that racism is the reason for them not winning a major Emmy is nothing short of patronising and victimhood signalling.

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What jumps out to me in this whole fiasco is equality of opportunity, a concept that was designed to address discrimination against women and ethnic minorities in institutions, and which has been at the core of the Emmys, and seen by the numbers of non-white actors getting nominated.

This is apparently not enough any longer: it’s apparently equality of outcome that must be achieved.

That none of the ‘global majority’ walked away with any of the main awards this year – white actors swept all 12 lead and supporting gongs across the comedy, drama and limited series categories – was a matter of artistic choice by the judges, not a matter of those judges being racist and deliberately choosing inferior performances by white people over self-evidently better performances by non-whites.

Let’s have some common sense on this, not some knee jerk playing of the race card. The Emmys did not overtly discriminate against anyone on the grounds of race.

Equality of opportunity does not – and must not – guarantee equality of outcome. Winning prestigious awards must be based on a system of meritocracy, where people win based on their talent, effort and achievement; race or skin colour doesn’t come into it.

In popular discourse, the pursuit of equality of outcome is controversial for this reason, as it challenges the craze of identity politics.

Ultimately, the racialisation of the Emmys for being “too white” is not surprising. This woke phenomenon has become a mainstream trend over the last couple of years, leading to some absurd outcomes.

Last month, for example, Cambridge University’s archaeology museum announced plans to display signs explaining the apparent ‘whiteness’ and lack of ‘diversity’ within classic Greek and Roman statues.

Since “the ‘great awokening” provoked by the Black Lives Matter movement, all major institutions, from elite schools, corporations, and public institutions have succumbed to its ideology. Many have pledged to promote “diversity and inclusion,” swearing to use these superficial metrics as their main measure of progress.

This trend has now also penetrated all facets of our lives, in entertainment, politics and the media. As more talented people from underrepresented backgrounds enter elite and prestigious institutions every year, it seems that their accomplishments are reduced primarily to the colour of their skin.

Therefore, in the eyes of the woke, minority stars not winning any awards at the Emmys must solely be due to discrimination and racism. Ultimately, this kind of view will only hurt minorities.

It is evident that there is a lack of intellectual pushback within the debate around social and political issues. This has to change or we will be doomed to see people through the prism of their race, instead of their achievements and talents.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.