In a display of utter disrespect during Black History Month—of all months—it was recently revealed that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (the journalist-based voting collective of the Golden Globes) has absolutely no Black members. Frankly, most Black people already figured that—and if you’re a Black person working in Hollywood with insider knowledge, you knew it.
A few days after the scathing-yet-not-surprising report, the HFPA has issued a statement.
“We are fully committed to ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities around the world who love film, TV and the artists inspiring and educating them,” an HFPA spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday night, via Deadline. “We understand that we need to bring in Black members, as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible.” The spokesperson also noted that 35 percent of its members are from non-European countries and the majority of members identify as female.
As for their statement on recruiting more Black members...I mean, they’re way late. It’s like they’re appropriating Colored People’s Time. But sure, welcome to the real world—which is actually quite diverse! I mean, the HFPA is certainly not alone when it comes to failing to represent the diversity of the actual world within its organizations and systems.
Every year, we have frustrated conversations about “elite” Hollywood organizations such as the HFPA, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars) or the Recording Academy (Grammys) being out-of-touch by snubbing formidable Black talent. Then, there’s one year where the winners circle is extra-Black, inspiring fans to celebrate Black history—despite the ridiculousness of there still being “firsts” for near-century-old award ceremonies. Then, it’s back to regularly scheduled whitewashed programming. Rinse and repeat.
There has also been discussion about disengaging from this culture—after all, how many times are we going to subject ourselves to neglect after neglect in a system that never really saw it for us anyway? Whether it’s diverting our attention to Black-centered awards organizations (such as BET, NAACP, Soul Train, etc.) or simply doing away with it all, there’s a lot to marinate on.
And it won’t be easy; one of the most complicated aspects is asking ourselves whether we’d also have to cease giving any power to “mainstream” awards shows—which may have to include not legitimizing these institutions even when our favorites win. As we’re so used to not being celebrated on a larger scale, that’s a very tough pill to swallow.
Perhaps it’ll be a step-by-step process, because in order to dismantle awards culture, I’d imagine you’d have to work on dismantling the system that upholds it, too. None of this is created in vacuum. It’s not only Black talent and Black creators being ignored—it’s the white supremacist structure denying us ample opportunities such as financing, distribution and marketing to even get the chance to enter the conversation of a damn mainstream awards nomination, let alone secure one.
Overall, for those Black journalists wishing to join the organization, my primary concern is not only increasing membership numbers in order to satisfy some pat-on-the-back status quo, but what happens once they enter. Specifically, making sure the organization is a safe space for these Black members—meaning, I don’t want to hear about any internal reports citing instances of microaggressions or outright racism within the org.
Perhaps we’ll hear further conversation from nominees and winners on how we’ll move forward (without solely burdening the Black talent with these questions) when the 78th Golden Globes airs live this Sunday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NBC. Or, maybe it’ll just be more of the same. We’ll see...