Now that the Oscars and most major awards shows are out of the way, the American Black Film Festival and the NAACP are bringing us the recognition we deserve—not by requiring us to ask for a seat at the table, but rather creating our own with the ABFF Honors and the 51st Image Awards taking place this weekend in Los Angeles.
Even Stevie Wonder can see that the Oscars and other awards shows still lack seasoning, but this #BlackExcellenceWeekend is going to be reminiscent of a black family reunion with its fair share of line dances and properly seasoned food. For the Image Awards on Saturday, we’ll be coming together to showcase the breadth of excellence across film, television, music, social justice, media, art, and literature, while the ABFF Honors, on Sunday, will focus on highlighting the work of entertainment industry legends and artists who are continuing to make a significant impact in the world of film and TV.
This year, Robyn Rihanna Fenty, a woman of and for the people, will be receiving the President’s Award during the Image Awards. The music, beauty and fashion mogul has blessed our ears, faces and overall quality of life, and this honor will acknowledge her philanthropy and public service. The Root’s very own Damon Young, of Very Smart Brothas, is nominated for his debut book in the “Outstanding Literary Work - nonfiction” category. The ABFF Honors will highlight the work of Lena Waithe, Cynthia Erivo, Jamie Foxx and also pay homage to The Wire with their Classic Television Award.
As a people we have always been known to take our lemons and turn them into lemonade, one that not only quenches our thirst, but revitalizes our spirits to keep pushing despite our challenges. We’re not only talking about the problem, we’re actively being the change we want to see. Here at The Root we’ve also continued to produce The Root 100 because we believe in honoring and giving flowers to those in an array of fields who are doing the work. And we’re keeping that recognition going with the inaugural launch of the Skippies.
Jeff Friday, the founder and CEO of ABFF Ventures, said that “in a year of stellar productions featuring standout performances by African Americans, it is fitting that the 2020 award season conclude by our community honoring its own.” Scott Mills, president of BET Networks, which is airing the show, reminded us that “both the NAACP and BET Networks share the same values and commitment to our community and its social impact.” Mills made it clear that BET’s participation furthers the company’s mission to “entertain, engage, and empower.”
There’s a special feeling that comes from being celebrated by your own community. That “we see you” not only validates your work, but makes you A) realize that you’re walking in your purpose and B) that those sleepless nights were not in vain. Maya Angelou told us that we’d always rise despite any circumstance and those words ring true everyday that ends in Y. We don’t get far being lackluster, so for us excellence is not an act, it’s a habit.
The 51st NAACP Image Awards will air live on BET on February 22 at 8pm EST, and the ABFF Honors will be held on February 23 in Los Angeles.