Best in Black?
Never did I think the color black at an award show would catch my eye.
But when I looked to my television screen at the audience of celebrities, to the left of the crowd, I found that everyone was wearing black. To the right? Everyone in black. Center? Black.
Why was everyone wearing black at the Golden Globes?
After a simple Google search, my question was answered. The trend was led by Time’s Up, a group which fights to combat the stigma against sexual assault and workplace inequality. Rumors of the clothing synchronization began in December, but was made official in a New York Times article on Jan. 1.
“The initiative [to combat Hollywood injustices] includes… a request that women walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes speak out and raise awareness by wearing black,” The New York Times wrote.
Amy Poehler, Emma Watson and Reese Witherspoon are a few of many who stated they would support the cause, attending the show in black apparel. However, a variety of protests and public exposure regarding these injustices were also sparked by several other women over the last year, most popularly Tarana Burke who began the “Me Too” movement and actress Alyssa Milano who brought the hashtag to the public eye.
So here I am, about to watch the Golden Globes. The camera pans to the main stage and Seth Meyers is standing, microphone in hand:
“Good morning ladies and remaining gentlemen.”
Straight to the point, I appreciate that. From there on, Meyers continues to note the status of sexual harassment in Hollywood as well as the several men who had been prosecuted last year because of it.
“Marijuana is finally allowed and sexual harassment finally isn’t.”
“It’s been years since the white man was this nervous in Hollywood.”
“This is the first time in three months where it won’t be terrifying to hear your name read out loud.”
The question that sparks, for me at least, whenever celebrities publicly protest is why?
Well, to be more specific, why now? Why like this? Why do they think it’s appropriate to do at the Golden Globes?
With the recent flood of public protests, allegedly sparked by Colin Kaepernick’s infamous kneeling, I can’t help but wonder whether it’s appropriate to protest like this. Oftentimes, I find people discussing the action or protest itself rather than the reasons behind them. I notice so much “Why Is Kaepernick disrespecting the flag?” and “Should Kaepernick be allowed to kneel during the anthem?” and not enough “Now that Kaepernick brought racial inequality to light, what can we do to combat that injustice?”
I witnessed the same thing that night.
My brother, ignorant as always, “At least black is everyone’s color.”
That’s it. No asking why or what it symbolized. It makes me wonder if people are even googling workplace inequality and sexual harassment in Hollywood. Does this unique influx of black dresses, black suits, black heels and black ties equate to initiative to stop these injustices?
I don’t know.
Using a fashion statement as a means of protest is nothing new, most prominently when women during the suffrage movement resisted their oppression by means of white attire. And undeniably, these fashion statements do stir conversation.
What I’m having difficulty grasping, however, is whether the conversation is addressing the problem in the best way it could.
So are there better ways to combat the issue? I’d say so. Many of the men and women who wore black tonight also posted on social media in regards to the issues they fight to combat, and that’s the initiative that I find covers the three aspects every protest should.
Inform to a large audience.
While thousands, if not millions, of people witnessed this unique overtaking of black apparel, the first two means of informing are swept under the bus, leaving unanswered questions and misdirected discussion for those ignorant about the plan.
What I found to contribute significantly more to the cause was the constant remarks, made during almost every speech spoken on stage, regarding workplace inequality and sexual harassment.
Oprah Winfrey’s speech, to say the least, was one of the best, stated with the utmost dignity anyone would expect from the Oprah Winfrey. Even my mom, who doesn’t know what technically is defined as harassment, appreciated the message presented.
That’s what the direct tweets combating these injustices prove to do as well. Protesting doesn’t stop at marching or a speech by Oprah. It never should. It should take on different forms, on different platforms, breaking barriers that no one would think could be broken all because of a tweet. But, wearing black? What did that really do?
It made me confused, that’s what it did.
Am I saying that synchronizing clothing color is stupid to raise awareness of a cause? No, I’m not. If any action can lead to interest in battling an injustice for even just one person, I think it’s worth doing.
But, do I still think direct and clear speech, shared publicly to an audience who will recognize and accept the statement as said, is a better way to approach protesting injustice? Yes, yes I do.