What is a hidden fence exactly?
That must be what Pharrell was asking himself when he looked away from Jenna Bush for that beat and half at the Golden Globes last night.
If a hidden fence were a real thing, it might be a lot like racism; A sturdy barrier that’s invisible to the naked eye. The kind people will tell you to “just get over” as they slip their key in the gate and strut through.
An American model might be stainless steel with barbed wire and electric currents running through it. Or it could just be a pretty white picket fence reinforced by deep-seated cultural warfare, shamelessly biased policies and a militarized police force.
A hidden fence lets people know they’re unwelcome just as clearly as “Beware of Dog” or “Whites Only” signs; Or Freudian slips that conflate Blackness. Subtle reminders that all Black movies look alike in a White world.
Why we can’t just focus on all of the good of the night? Why can’t we just be happy with Moonlight‘s big win?
Or Tracee Ellis Ross‘ historic evening?
And because if we entrusted them to write history, we’d be renamed, shamed and killed before the second act. If not erased from the final cut completely.
But we lick our lips, bite our tongues and rush to comfort grown adults who might be embarrassed by their own lack of professionalism. Everyone makes mistakes. But only fools refuse to examine their errors and seek correction. Jenna Bush deserves a nod for her earnest apology. But this issue isn’t personal.
When we truly honor someone, we go out of our way to make sure they never feel awkward or uncomfortable. But who is aware enough of the world beyond themselves to know our insecurities aren’t imagined? The fence is invisible, not imaginary, remember?
But their bloopers were ugly reminders of the lack of diversity that inspired the renaissance of Black media last night’s ceremony so beautifully showcased. Reminders of an ugly truth that can’t be ignored anymore than an actual hidden fence.
The Twitter Gods roasted Michael and Jenna thoroughly and turned the negative to positive energy, as we often find a way to do. But these memories should be about history in the making. Not squeezing lemonade out of lemons.
Hidden Figures, Fences, Moonlight, Atlanta and Insecure are a mean starting five on any Hollywood court, and they’re worth more than 3/5th’s of everyone’s memory banks.
But America’s hidden fences will continue to gaslight Black Americans, along with other oppressed groups; Insisting that our trauma is not relevant or substantial. That our suffering is our own fault. If we could just get over it and forget it. The way they so effortlessly do.
Last night had the potential to put a slight crack in that fence. Or maybe even just a symbolic dent in our President-elect’s imaginary wall. But the hidden fence we couldn’t ignore in spite of all the pretty distractions reinforced its barriers and raised the stakes; Along with the only question Freud might squeeze from our subconscious:
When will we stop climbing their hidden fences and build our own?