By the time Billy Porter
popped onstage to do a rendition of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing,” I was ready to throw my laptop across the room. It was like the Academy thought, what’s better than one black, queer artist to try to save our reputation? Two!
The message was that black performers are good enough to entertain a crowd, but not enough to actually reward their talent. When Monae proclaimed that she was “so proud to stand here as a black, queer artist telling stories,” that the night would “celebrate the art of the storyteller” and “those voices long deprived,” I wondered what show she was talking about. This was before Hair Love’s win, Parasite’s four-Oscar sweep, including Best Picture, and Taika Waiti becoming the first person of Maori Indigenous descent to win an Oscar. Those exceptions are great and signal a tiny step in the right direction for people of colour in Hollywood, but the Oscars still have a long way to go. And black creators in Hollywood still have their own set of specific challenges in the industry.