Archives for posts with tag: racism

  
Did you think I was oblivious?  When I toured the fancy talent agencies?  Meeting the managers in their art filled, airy offices on the west side?  Shaking hands with eager entertainment lawyers. Do you think I didn’t notice the teamsters and the grips and the sales agents… the casting directors, the art directors and the camera department… do you think I ever said out loud… why are none of you black?  Why are so few of you latino or asian?

When I arrived in Hollywood, at the talent agencies, they introduced me to gay agents… because I’m gay.  They thought I might feel more comfortable. They talked gay with me.  They told me about their husbands, they hoped I might party with them in Palm Spings. What do they do with their black clients?  All those white agents perfecting their patois, their chicken and waffles… their white shame… their apology.

On their own… feeling safe, they tell you what they really think.  On the golf course, in the AA meeting.  Listening to the talent agency owner whilst he disparages woman (‘nobody wants a woman director’) and people of color (‘they just don’t have our work ethic’).  At the white AA meeting we attended in The Palisades I watch in awe as the sober, white entertainment lawyers… hoping to do business with the fat, short, racist… laugh in agreement.  It doesn’t go unnoticed that most of the powerful white men I meet pandering to low grade racism… are Jewish.

I was told by one mega producer who famously makes very, very white super hero films that he wished every muslim would either convert or die… and when I wrote to him the following day explaining members of my family were muslim he replied it wasn’t his problem I was related to ‘rag heads’.

I was called a rag head and sand nigger by a well known gay white writer when we fought about money.

The white, gay caterer told me last week he didn’t employ black people.  “It makes my clients uncomfortable.”  He smiles, he hopes his winning smile will somehow deflect my critical glare.  He hopes, because he has come out as a racist, I might extend some sort of sympathy, some understanding.  When he came out as gay… he was a hero.  Would his honesty about race garner the same result?

Sales agents told me, when casting  my film Dorian Gray, “Don’t even think about a black lead, we won’t be able to sell to the Middle East.”  They were unembarrassed by their racism, actively excluding black people from lead roles, from leading, from leading a better life.

I asked talent agents to suggest people of color to play Dorian Gray.  They couldn’t.

Charlotte Rampling and Michael Caine are not the problem.  The teamsters and the agency boss are the problem.  Of course Charlotte and Michael see black faces on set, in the make up trailer and at Craft Services.

They say the Oscars don’t matter.  Of course they fucking matter.  White people with an Oscar nomination can expect a wage increase of a gazillion %.  Awards are factored into contracts, an award contractually guarantees the writer/director/lead cast more money.  That’s how contracts are structured.

Pretend, as Robert Redford did yesterday, it was the work rather than the award that mattered… betraying his disingenuousness.  His elitism.  If awards don’t matter… get rid of the Sundance awards.

White men (gay and straight) keep women and people of color away from the big money, excluded from the validation, the opportunity, from the prizes.  

Prizes that suddenly don’t matter to Robert Redford… because it’s not about the glory, it’s about the work.

Tina Gharavi is an Iranian Film Director.  Her statement on Facebook today should bring tears to your eyes.

I am constantly told, oh it doesn’t matter, doesn’t exist, it’s not worth getting upset over…. or that it will change with time, that it’s all in my head… or make a film that they cannot ignore… or if you were any good, it will happen anyway…. At the end of the day, my whole career has been needing to prove myself twice more over than those on my left and right and it is exhausting. More than just the work itself, it’s the fact that people deny the prejudice even exists. When I first met my partner, he was skeptical that there were systems at play that did not give me the same chances as other filmmakers. After 5 years of watching, he has seen the many times that opportunities were given to others less qualified… of the invitations that never arrive… Now he is more livid than me…. He sees the fact that the panels will invite the white male director (except when it is a panel where they need to discuss diversity or need a female to turn up). Truth is many black filmmakers watch their white peers rise up with projects which are less interesting and challenging… well, one can imagine the effect that has on the soul. Films are a commercial as well as an artistic expression. I have said this before, sometimes I wish I had never left painting. You can paint without much money but filmmaking… that means a lot of people have to have incredible belief and support for your vision. Most of the time, however, it is a failure of imagination… and that is were we are all poorer. We need to confront this and Charlotte would do better than making choices and decisions based on her own experiences. I don’t know many black or ethnic filmmakers who would agree with her. I challenge her to work on my next film, not as an actress but as an Exec and watch exactly how many opportunities I am given which impoverish my fellow white filmmakers. I call her out… if she wants to really see what the truth of it is. If she was following my story so far she wouldn’t have said what she did. I don’t want a leg up just because there aren’t enough black filmmakers…. I want an equal opportunity because I have important stories to tell.

1.

While few of us would think to ridicule Jews for still harboring less than warm feelings for Germans some 70 years after the liberation of the concentration camps—we would understand the lack of trust, the wariness, even the anger—we apparently find it hard to understand the same historically embedded logic of black trepidation and contempt for law enforcement in the USA.

Revealed, these past weeks, for the world to see: America’s racist underbelly.  News stories narrated by dumb white folk, binging unashamedly on their justified racism.  The condescending white news anchor asks a black man to explain his fear of the police… then scoffs at his reply.  Others crudely condemn the dead black men “He was no angel.”  “His parents were known to the police.”  “He was resisting arrest.”  The same ‘news’ shows use the millions of crowd sourced dollars raised for the white murderer as proof, as if any were needed, that Darren Wilson and men like him are: “Innocent until proven guilty.” “The grand jury proved there was no case to answer.” “Let him get on with his life.”

The KKK leave cruel and hateful messages wherever they can all over social media, proudly letting the world know: ‘a good nigger is a dead nigger’.  Black men doubly assassinated, in life and death… white supremacists proudly spew vitriol over the bodies of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner.

They demand, “This isn’t about race.”  “Why do you bring race into this?”

White folk have no incentive to let go of their white power, their white privilege, their sense of superiority… their entitlement.  White people remind you with their slippery smiles that slavery was abolished in 1865.  “It’s up to the blacks to help themselves.”  “If we weren’t killing them, they’d be killing each other.”  “They have the same opportunities as everyone else.”

2.

Every Mexican, working illegally in California, is a slave.  White people loathe manual labor.  White people love slaves.  Everybody needs a slave in SoCal.  The fruit growers would have nobody to harvest fruit without Mexican slaves.  Slaves stand outside Home Depot offering themselves for hard labor.   Mexican slaves mow my lawn, scrub my hot tub.  Slaves clear brush in the Santa Monica Mountains under the midday sun.

Serried ranks of plump Mexican women smelling of disinfectant and carbolic soap clean house, serve slim, white wives their afternoon mint tea.  There are thousands of them!  Thousands of enslaved, undocumented maids.

Have you ever seen a white person use a mop, hand wash dishes or polish a crystal glass?  Have you ever watched a white person try removing a stain from a carpet?  Have you noticed how inept white people are?  They don’t know how to look after their own stuff.

“Do you know how to remove a stain from a carpet?  When your dog pees on your rug?”

He shrugs, “Mexican people know how to do that.  I don’t need to know.”

Those Mexican slave women used to be black slave women.

Last week President Obama liberated 5 million slaves by giving them the opportunity to ‘come out of the shadows’.  Watch the white elected officials in Congress and the Senate balk.  Their fat, pink cheeks huffing and puffing indignantly at the partial liberation of more slaves.

Without slaves the USA ceases to function.  The USA is addicted to slavery.  The USA was built on hard work… the hard work of unpaid black slaves.  Conveniently written out of white history.  California’s false economy is carried on the backs of Mexican slaves.

When the black slaves were freed the white folk wanted them to go back to Africa.  “The slaves are free… free to go home.”

Those black folk who thought they were equal to white folk were outlawed, harassed.  If they had entrepreneurial ambitions they were made to think again.  When they opened stores on main street, their stores were looted by white folk whilst the police watched… and did nothing.

There was no opportunity given to black people which could not be taken away.

3.

A black face reminds America’s of its not so distant violent racist past (black neighborhoods were being bombed and burned in Boston and Chicago by white police as recently as 1970).   To liberal white people a black face remains a shameful embarrassment: liberals never did enough for black people.  Liberals turned from the thorny problem of race to an easy fix: marriage equality.

White people who claim to hate racism are privately racist.  Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin at Sony Pictures are revealed to be private racists… when this is discovered from hacked emails they call Jesses Jackson so assuage their guilt.  They publicly call prominent black people to apologize for being private racists… but they merely confirm what we already know: white liberals say one thing then do another when they think they can’t be seen or heard.

For the dogged racists a black face reminds them of an unfinished problem… a problem they tackle every 18 hours when another black man is murdered by the police.  Shortly after the shots are fired, the body transported to the morgue… the excuses begin, the character of the dead black man maligned, the Grand Jury is called and the murder justified… forgotten.

Did it seem this time… after Eric Garner’s Grand Jury refused to indict… fewer people agreed with the decision… or made excuses for the police?  Was it my imagination that after the whole world watched the video of Eric Garner’s murder a million times on TV and the internet that people who might have before… did not want to forget.  In fact they cared a great deal for murdered Eric, his dignified widow and their forgiving daughters.

When the people watch the unnecessary take down and murder of Eric Garner for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes on the streets on New York they are forced to acknowledge 350 years of racism:  state sanctioned torture, murder, rape, abuse, theft…

The people (all ethnicities) began to drag themselves out of apathy and onto the same streets.  The people saw a black man bullied to death and none of the usual excuses from the police or the mayor or the kkk were very convincing.  The people saw Eric Garner bullied and murdered by the police in a country where the police are meant to protect the people from bullies and murderers!

Fear underpins the systematic oppression of America’s black minority.

4.

This week people understood that the criminal justice system isn’t broken,  that police brutality, secret and corrupt grand juries, the deliberate disenfranchising of black men and the unreported/undocumented incidence of murder by police force… is not evidence of a broken system but the system functioning exactly the way it was designed.

Did you know that once convicted, in many states (11 southern states) a felon is never allowed to vote again… ever.  Why don’t you know that?  Most people don’t.  When a black man is convicted of a felony in 11 southern states he is never allowed to vote again.  He is excluded from the democratic process.  How many black felons did you tell me presently reside in jail and prison?  How many of them are working for free (cotton picking, uniform stitching) in American jails and prisons?

America’s untreated racist wound stinks like Michael Brown’s uncovered, bloated corpse on a humid Ferguson street… and no amount of Fox News deodorant will take away the stench.

Did you know, that until modest changes were made to the selection process, people of color were excluded from the Grand Jury?  Those modest and unenforceable protocol changes were made within the last few years.

They say, the secretive Grand Jury was originally conceived to weed out malicious prosecutions.  That’s just a big fat lie.  The Grand Jury is now as it always was… a secret court used by the police and police friendly prosecutors to help crooked cops out of difficult situations so they can continue waging war against the black minority.

The cop’s unwritten law of the street:  all black faces are fair game.

The Grand Jury is unknown anywhere else in the world. It works so effectively because there’s no one in the room defending the victim. In the case of Darren Wilson he was presented as the victim by the prosecutor rather than Michael Brown and this wholly spurious narrative persists.

5.

Criticize racists and the police at your peril.

The police say they have been ‘thrown under a bus’ by Bill de Blasio, Mayor of NYC because Mayor de Blasio told the world he advised his black son Dante: should he ever have occasion to be stopped by the police, Dante should be very polite, not reach for his cell phone or make any other sudden movement.  Dante should assume, like all black young men stopped by the police, that at any moment the police may kill him.

The following day white, bull necked cops feign indignation.  They know they’ve been rumbled, their credibility smashed to pieces.  They’ll have to do what bullies hate having to do: next time they’ll have to think twice.

Bill de Blasio has been warned by the police union not to attend Police funerals killed in the line of duty.   The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association posted a link on its website telling members not to let de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito “insult their sacrifice” should they be killed. The union posted a “Don’t Insult My Sacrifice” waiver officers can sign requesting the two politicians not attend their funerals due to their “consistent refusal to show police officers the support and respect they deserve.”

Good cop?  Bad cop?

Are there any good cops?  There’s no incentive to be a good cop.  The good guys are weeded out.  It’s a tough time to be a good cop.  Crime figures diminishing, the police have to justify their huge organization, their overtime.  They say policing is a dangerous job.  How dangerous?  Policemen are not all killed by criminals,  30% are killed in road traffic accidents… the police are too arrogant to wear seat belts.

Whilst men like Eric are being harassed and murdered on the streets of New York for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes by police thugs, a couple of miles away in another part of the same city the most audacious crimes this century go unpunished.  Wall Street steals a world of wealth and gets away with it.  They say white-collar crime is too sophisticated for most regular cops to grasp.

The cops protect the rich, protect the 1%… as it turns out they’re protecting them from us…  from you and me.

Cops are used to raise revenue for local government, make politically motivated arrests, used by the rich to silence and poleax their enemies.  Cops illegally hold undocumented workers without opportunity to post bail then deport them after lengthy stays in private jails.  I’ve met undocumented workers who were introduced to their mule (a mule illegally smuggles an undocumented worker back into the USA) by the same border patrol guy who originally arrested and deported them.

The cops take their cut, trafficking slaves.

6.

The conspiracy theorists I scoffed at 10 years ago… well, they got it right.

The jails are kept artificially full to justify more cops.  The artificial wars on drugs and terror are in fact… a war on us.

There is a profound connection between criminality abroad and criminality at home. The so-called “war on terror” and military aggression abroad are linked to repression within the United States.  The drive by the American ruling class to build up the infrastructure of a police state is in preparation for the inevitable confrontation with the working class. This is what lies behind the unprecedented levels of domestic spying, the assault on basic democratic rights, the CIA’s trampling on legality and the Constitution, the militarization of law enforcement and the ongoing police rampage against working class youth.

The Hollywood street performer shot in the head by the police, the Down’s syndrome kid choked to death by the police, the homeless woman repeatedly punched in the head by the police, the deaf guy trying to sign tasered by the police, the countless murders committed by the police remain uncounted.

A pattern emerges, you better be a healthy, able-bodied white male to survive the streets of now USA. You better not be black or disabled or deaf or performing or homeless. You better blend in, become invisible, forget any aspirations you might have to be extraordinary.

White Americans may protest that our racial problems are not like South Africa’s. No, but the United States incarcerated a higher proportion of blacks than apartheid South Africa did. In America, the black-white wealth gap today is greater than it was in South Africa in 1970 at the peak of apartheid.

America: it is still a nation of slaves and slave owners. The system that perpetuates this must be deconstructed and if you are white that deconstruction starts with you… asking yourself this question: am I willing to give up my slaves? My white power? My white privilege? My unfair advantages? Am I willing to acknowledge that implicitly and explicitly I colluded with the historical suppression, bullying, false imprisonment and murder of a minority?

My gay friends believe that winning human rights for black people will be as polite as winning human rights for gay people. They think it’s THE SAME.

There must have been a moment in 1945 after the American’s liberated the concentration camps, when the German people were forced by the allied forces to watch news reels of what was found there… there must have been a moment when the German people collectively owned up.   A moment when they realized what they had done. I’m waiting for white people in the USA to own their part, their collusion with a system that murders, brutalized and demeans a minority… then blames them when they complain.

It never really occurred to me until yesterday that the mass murder and incarceration of black men in the USA is deliberate, systemic, entrenched and unlikely to change until white men learn to share their power.

7.

I bought my first house when I was 20 years old. Remember that cottage? 13 Island Wall, Whitstable. 15 years later I sold it and bought Peter Cushing’s house and the house beside it. 2 and 3 Seaway Cottages, Wavecrest. That was a pretty address. I sold them both and moved to California. 2828 Hume Road, Malibu. Now, it’s time to head east. It’s Time.

I sold my house. Goodbye Malibu. I hope the new owners are happy here. It has been quite a ride up (and down) this mountain… literally and figuratively. This is where I buried my dog and this is where I will leave her. This is where the twins lived, this is the location of many spectacular parties, lovers and probably the worst decision I made in my life… to reply to Jake.   But there you go, it’s sold now. The furniture has been packed, the art wrapped and stowed in boxes. I am relieved.

I am only a few months away from having the gagging order lifted so I get to tell my side of the story… how another rich man used the police and the prosecutor to hide the truth.