“Till” is a 2022 film based on the tragic story of Emmet Till, a 15-year-old boy from Chicago who was lynched by racists in Mississippi in 1955. The movie stars Danielle Deadwyler as Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, and was directed by Chinonye Chukwu.
Surprisingly, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) did not nominate the film for any Oscar awards. I say “surprisingly” because in today’s race-obsessed culture, it would make sense for a movie with this plotline to be nominated for several awards.
But because it wasn’t, Chukwu immediately declared that racism was the reason that her film got snubbed.
“We live in a world and work in industries that are so aggressively committed to upholding whiteness and perpetuating an unabashed misogyny towards Black women. And yet. I am forever in gratitude for the greatest lesson of my life – regardless of any challenges or obstacles, I will always have the power to cultivate my own joy, and it is this joy that will continue to be one of my greatest forms of resistance,” Chukwu wrote on her Instagram.
Emmett Till’s real-life cousin, Deborah Watts, was also disappointed by the lack of nominations, but refrained from saying racism was involved in those decisions.
“(Danielle) embodied and delivered the true essence of our cousin, a loving and courageous mother, Mamie Till-Mobley,” Watts said. “She reached deeply and poured her heart and soul in this role as she embraced us intimately like no other, while transforming into Mamie and bringing her true essence and story to life."
Watts’ assessment of the situation draws the right balance between celebrating what was accomplished -- the making of a critically-acclaimed movie -- and being disappointed that it won’t have the chance to get an Academy Award.
But Chukwu’s comments are more damaging, and frankly, a bunch of nonsense.
The Academy isn’t “committed to upholding whiteness” and being misogynistic to black women. On the contrary, in 2020, the AMPAS announced a set of diversity requirements that films must meet to be considered eligible for the 2024 Oscars. While these requirements are still two a year away from being concrete, productions could submit a confidential form to bolster their case in 2022 and 2023.
If the Academy really wanted to uphold whiteness, it wouldn’t have bent over backwards to elevate diverse voices in its awards process.
Additionally, the reality of the Oscars is that sometimes good films get snubbed. While I haven’t seen “Till” yet, the trailer is enough for me to believe that it would get nominated for something (in my entirely layman and unprofessional opinion). However, movie experts much smarter than me make those decisions, and sometimes deserving movies don’t get their due credit.
While that certainly is disappointing, it's a far cry from racist. While optically it could appear to be racially motivated -- a film about the murder of a black child not getting properly noticed -- factually, it doesn’t appear that “Till” was purposefully prevented from getting an award.
Frankly, Chukwu would have a hard time proving her claims have any factual standing.
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