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raceAhead: The #MeToo Stars Shine at The Golden Globes

There were many things to talk about at the Golden Globes: Seth Meyers’s spot-on monologue; the victory of Sterling K. Brown and Aziz Ansari’s historic win; the agony of the “Get Out” and “Girls Trip” shut-outs; Natalie Portman’s deft mic drop as a presenter; the fact that gender and ethnic diversity in Hollywood still feels like a distant dream.

But the most important honorees were the people who typically don’t get invited to award shows.

Instead of publicists or arm candy, many of the high-profile stars, all supporters of the Time’s Up initiative, brought other dates to the red carpet.

While we failed to see this level of “be our guest,” response to #OscarsSoWhite, I’m tentatively calling this an intersectional win.

Nominees or presenters Laura Dern, Amy Poehler, Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Emma Watson, Michelle Williams and Shailene Woodley brought activists as their guests, all of whom have been working tirelessly on wrenching social issues, largely in obscurity. And they all came prepared to fight for justice.

All the entertainers graciously shared the spotlight by teeing up the issues represented by their expert dates, many of whom had clearly become friends.

Tarana Burke was the guest of Michelle Williams. Burke is the founder of the #MeToo movement, and a senior director of Girls for Gender Equity, a grassroots organization aiming to remove barriers for girls and women of color and their communities.

“I could never envision it growing like this,” said Burke in her red carpet moment. “This moment is so powerful because we’re seeing a collision of two worlds — well, maybe collision is not the best word,” she laughed, settling on collaboration. “A collaboration between these two worlds that people don’t usually put together,” she said.

Everyone looked resplendent in black evening wear, a move that worked to send a message of solidarity. (Color me surprised. I was skeptical.)

Burke posted a joint statement from the activists about their participation in the event:

Too much of the recent press has been focused on perpetrators and does not adequately address the systemic nature of violence including the importance of race, ethnicity and economic status in sexual violence and other forms of violence against women. Our goal in attending the Golden Globes is to shift the focus back to survivors and on systemic lasting solutions. Each of us will be highlighting legislative, community-level and interpersonal solutions that contribute to ending violence against women in all our communities. It is our hope that in doing so, we will also help broaden conversations about the connection to power, privilege and other systemic inequalities.”

Praise also goes to Oprah Winfrey, the first African American woman to win the Cecil B. DeMille Award. She stole the show with a deeply moving speech that expressed gratitude to all women, including those serving in the military, who have silently endured assault and harassment because they had no other choice but to keep working.They’re the women whose names we’ll never know,” she said.

She also evoked the name of Recy Taylor, who was brutally abducted and raped in 1944 by six armed white men in Alabama. With the assistance of a young NAACP investigator named Rosa Parks, she attempted to seek justice she never received. “But justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow,” says Winfrey. “She lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.”

Let’s hope so. More on the other Golden Globe stars below:

  • Rosa Clemente, a former vice presidential candidate on the Green Party ticket (2008) and a community organizer focused Puerto Rican independence, attended with Susan Sarandon.
  • Billie Jean King, tennis champion, founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, and more recently the founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative dedicated to inclusive leadership, attended with Emma Stone. Stone was nominated for her portrayal of King in the film “Battle of the Sexes.”
  • Saru Jayaraman is the co-founder and co-director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, an advocacy organization for low-wage restaurant workers. She attended with Amy Poehler.
  • Marai Larasi, the executive director of Imkaan, a network of organizations dedicated to ending violence against black and underrepresented women in the UK, went with Emma Watson.
  • Calina Lawrence, a Suquamish Tribe member, singer and activist for a wide variety of cause, including racial injustice, police brutality, suicide prevention and Native American treaty rights, attended with Shailene Woodley.
  • Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, attended with Meryl Streep. She is also a MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient and the co-director of Caring Across Generations, a coalition of advocacy organizations working to restore dignity to aging and transform long term care in the U.S.
  • Mónica Ramírez, is the co-founder and president of Alianza Nacional de Campesina, fights sexual violence against farmworkers and advocates for gender equity on behalf of Latinas and immigrant women. She was the guest of Laura Dern.

On Point

A profile of Daniel Kaluuya, the man who deserves an awardThis interview with the New York Times Magazine is a reminder of how interesting unexpected stars can be. They’re not from central casting and that frees them in some regard. “I am definitely not a household face, and I don’t expect to be one,” Kaluuya says. “I don’t think you become a name with just one job.” Yet it is exactly his face, and his astonishing ability to portray complex emotion, that has won him such wide appeal. He grew up in the British equivalent of a housing project, the child of Ugandan immigrants.“Being young, working class and black, everything you do is policed,” Kaluuya said. While encouraged to explore acting as a teen, it was impossible for him to think of entertainment as a profession. Growing up the way he did, “You don’t have the vocabulary, conceptually, to articulate that wish.”New York Times

A top BBC editor quits after discovering gender-based pay gap
Carrie Grace has left her China post after she learned of a pay structure that allowed her male peers to make some 50% more than she did. In an open letter published yesterday, she called the pay scheme “secretive and illegal,” and said it should be more widely known. “The BBC belongs to you, the license fee payer. I believe you have a right to know that it is breaking equality law and resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure,” she wrote.
Washington Post

For many immigrants, deportation is a death sentence
Sometimes it’s a protective order against an abusive former partner, others are gay asylum seekers, gang targets, or persecuted for their religion. As deportations have increased under the Trump administration, so have the grisly reports about people who were sent back to their home countries. Sarah Stillman has been working with graduate students as the director of the Global Migration Project at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism to document as many stories of people who were deported to face certain death or other harm as possible. The information they’re finding isn’t otherwise collected by the government or under-resourced advocacy groups. As their database grew to more than 60 cases, they discovered a series of alarming patterns.
New Yorker

Sarah Silverman helps a harasser in need
The actor and comedian accidentally gave a master class in compassion after Christmas when a random person called her a “c**t” on Twitter. “I believe in you. I read ur timeline [and] I see what ur doing [and]; your rage is thinly veiled pain. But u know that. I know this feeling,” she tweeted. Jeremy Jamrozy responded, sharing a story of sexual abuse, loneliness and crippling back pain he couldn’t afford to treat. Click through for the very candid and wrenching exchange, but if you’re in a rush here’s the happy ending. Silverman’s fans found a pain specialist close to Jamrozy who was willing to help evaluate him, and others helped him set up a moderate GoFundMe to help pay for his care. Click for the drama, stay for the kindness.
Jezebel

The Woke Leader

For film/social justice fans who can’t get enough of Get Out
The Black List is a now-famous annual survey of the most liked scripts that weren’t produced in any given year. Since they began publishing in 2005, nearly a third of the 1,000+ screenplays on the list have gone on to theatrical release. (Liked Spotlight? Slumdog Millionaire? Thank the Black List.) Their Go Into The Story blog on Medium has published a six-part series that can help any budding screenwriter, critic, sociologist or armchair anthropologist learn how to read and analyze the Get Out script. Take yourself to film school, and I’ll be writing about you at the Golden Globes in five years.
Go Into The Story Blog

The rape of Recy Taylor was part of broader Jim Crow campaign of violence against black women
The Undefeated’s Soraya Nadia McDonald reminds us that along with lynching, rape was an explicit terror tactic in the Jim Crow South. “The history of black women as victims of white terror has largely been ignored, silenced and minimized, even as their quest for safety fueled their pursuit of civil rights as far back as the 1890s,” she says. The true story is found not in the subsequent documentary of Taylor’s life, but in the book that inspired it, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance, by historian Danielle McGuire. Rape happened regularly, though convictions were rare. “These are not just bad apples,” McGuire told McDonald. “This is part of a systemic approach to dehumanizing black women and girls.”
The Undefeated

Chinese laborers built Sonoma wineries. So where are they now?
Chinese immigrant workers were already working in the West thanks to the Gold Rush-related building boom. So, when a wealthy Hungarian vintner bought the Sonoma Valley ranch now known as the Buena Vista, he turned to a Chinese contractor for help. Ho Po sent 150 laborers, who began to literally dig wine caves by hand. Local workers accused the Chinese laborers of undercutting their wages, and things turned ugly. Ultimately, the Chinese living and working in Sonoma were driven from their homes. “They were chewing on weeds down by the riverbanks, things got so bad,” says one historian.
NPR

Quote

What people don’t realize is that you need to work at being a celebrity. I’m not talking about movies. I mean the other side of it. You have to campaign. It’s a whole other part of your career, and I wish I could have navigated it a bit better. I may have an Oscar now, had I… I know it certainly doesn’t mean anything to win a Golden Globe, that’s for sure. [It’s a] meaningless event. I think it’s like, take a fucking joke—get over it…At the Oscars, if you didn’t vote for “12 Years a Slave” you were a racist.
Golden Globe winner Gary Oldman