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Pulling Back Our Masks



REAL TALK

In April 1976, actress Denise Nicholas, whose work included classic performances in films like A Piece of the Action and Let’s Do It Again, wrote a commentary in the magazine, Black World, called “A Personal View from the Inside – Outside”. Though I was only a wee girl at the time it was printed, her editorial captures my angst present-day about presenting critical information about race, politics, education – or my research mainstay, eugenics – unless filtered through popular vehicles like television and film.

“But something happened. Black people stopped looking at each other in their own bars, nightclubs, and neighborhoods and started watching whites on TV. We stopped needing to have discussions with each other, stopped going to hear our own music, stopped dreaming our own dreams. We started trying to live white people’s fantasies. Television was in, though, whether I watched it or not, and I just missed by a hair the kind of total absorption in it that is popular today. I didn’t get addicted until much later when life itself grew incomprehensible,” Ms. Nicholson wrote.

We’d stopped looking and dreaming, according to Ms. Nicholson, in 1976.