White Hollywood Reminds Us that Not All Issues Are Worthy of Its Solidarity

by Kinsey Clarke

The terrorist attacks that hit Paris last week—first at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and then later supermarket—have people from all over the world engaged in dialogue about terrorism, free speech, and xenophobia. In the days following, the world was watching as news coverage of the attacks has been tracked on multiple media platforms. The mass marches through the streets of Paris, as well as the creation and global adoption of the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie were also meant to pay tribute to the victims of the attacks, as well as show solidarity of supposed freedom of speech. This solidarity has even garnered support from Hollywood, where many celebrities expressed their solidarity with the movement by wearing #JeSuisCharlie pins and discussing the tragic events at last week’s 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards.

While most of us acknowledge that what happened in Paris was truly horrific and mourn those who lost their lives, there are still points for critical discussion. This brings me to my main question: Why does Hollywood go to bat for some issues and not others?

It seems as though black lives – domestic and abroad – are not worthy of the same kind of news coverage or support that white lives receive. On January 3rd, the militant group Boko Haram attacked and killed over 2,000 civilians in Nigeria. On January 9th, a building that housed the local offices of the NAACP as well as a black-owned barbershop was bombed in Colorado Springs.

Had I not been on Twitter as these events unfolded, I would not have heard about them at all.

Both the attacks on the NAACP building and mass deaths in Nigeria are clearly terrorist affiliated, but only the tragedy in France was covered extensively by mainstream media outlets. Apparently, A-list America is only interested in joining the social justice movement when it does not involve the messy parts of aligning oneself with defending black lives. Something as wholeheartedly American as defending “freedom of speech” – ahem, disrespecting others for the sake of “satire” or “a joke” – however, is their forte.

Of course there’s the issue of the history of race in America and abroad that Hollywood simply does not want to be bothered with. For those in Hollywood to support the #JeSuisCharlie movement and not the victims of the Boko Haram attacks or the NAACP bombing says to me that unless a significant amount of white people are harmed, killed, or endangered in any way, liberal celebrities will continue to be politically deaf.

Again, do not misconstrue my words into meaning that the Charlie Hebdo attacks were not a tragedy, because they were. However, the #BlackLivesMatter movement is meant to show that, indeed, black lives across the world do matter and should be recognized. Black people are constantly shown that our lives and our deaths do not matter in the slightest bit, and the proximity of time between these attacks demonstrates just that.

Given the lack of publicity and solidarity surrounding the terrorist attacks affecting black people, we can where Hollywood’s allegiances lie and how selective their social justice activism is. They will jump at the chance to seem culturally knowledgeable and welcoming when it benefits their public image, but their silence on the very real way we terrorize black lives in America and abroad is telling.

Clearly, the folks over in Tinsel Town are not our allies. Liberal racism is still racism, and to sidestep the issue shows that they are more comfortable being just that: comfortable. However, activism is not comfortable nor is it cookie-cutter neat and clean. Though I do not need affirmation from hoity-toity actors that my life matters, I am still waiting for the day when Hollywood cares as much about issues that affect people of color, however “controversial” they may be.

Unfortunately, I know that day will not come for a long time. So I won’t be holding my breath.

Photo: WireImage via The Daily Mail

Kinsey Clarke is a senior at Michigan State University. She enjoys aerial silks and solo trapeze in her spare time. You can follow her personal Twitter account here.

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