The surprise win for Black Panther at the SAGs gave a lot of us hope that it could win Best Picture at the Oscars. The Academy is older and whiter than the SAG and that’s probably not going to happen, but we can still dream. Moonlight won over La La Land after all. Chadwick Boseman, 41, gave the speech on behalf of the cast at the SAGs. He said they were asked two questions most often during press for the film. 1. Did they know what a success it would be? and 2. Has the success of BP changed the industry? His answer was thought-provoking “To be young, gifted and black. We all know what it’s like to be told that there’s not a place for you to be featured…. We know what it’s like to be beneath and not above. We knew we could be full human beings in the role that we were playing [in this movie].” It gave me goosebumps. Backstage, during the post-win Q&A, he was asked to explain what it means “to be young, gifted and black” and his answer moved me. This is what we’ve heard before but he explained it so well that he got applause from the journalists there. That’s in the video below and I’ve transcribed it:
American Urban Radio Networks asked him to expand on being young, gifted and black
That is one of my favorite songs, one of my favorite sayings in poetry. It speaks to the fact that you have the same dreams as other people. You have equal if not more talent. But you don’t have the same opportunities. You don’t necessarily have the same doors open to you, the same nepotism, the same money or resources that can be put toward your dreams. You, a lot of times, don’t have family members that have ever achieved the things that you want to do. So when you aspire to do something [it] is outside the realm of what the world would see you doing and also what your family has ever achieved. Some people they’re the first person to graduate from college still [in their family]. To be young, gifted and black is all of that. It’s to have everything but not be able to grasp it, but to be able to persevere through that.
All of us are actors. It is difficult to do that for everyone, it’s a difficult task, but our task historically has not been the same because we’ve been relegated to playing the sidekick or the sideshow or backstage.
That was powerful. I’ve seen white people whom I know (I’m white) so closed to the concept of privilege that they explain over and over how hard they have it, how they’ve been harrassed by cops, how they grew up poor. Most of them will never get it. I’ve also seen other white people, mostly young but some old (my parents!), understand that it’s a fact. The way Chadwick explained being young, gifted and black, as not having the same starting point and safety net, is so simple and yet so important. There’s also the issue that he shouldn’t have to spell this out for people, but unfortunately we’ve seen time and again that those who benefit from white supremacy want to deny and perpetuate it.
Chadwick’s comments start at 6:20 into this video:
Photos credit: Avalon.red and WENN