On Sunday, Viola Davis became the first black woman ever to win an Emmy Award for best actress in a drama series, and she used her time onstage to make a powerful political statement about what it’s like to be black and female in Hollywood and the U.S.

Rebecca Carroll writes in The Guardian:

At the end of her gorgeously nuanced speech – indeed after watching the Emmys as a whole, with wins for Regina King and Uzo Aduba – like probably every other black woman in America watching, I was left feeling deep elation and gratitude … On her way to the stage Viola hugged fellow nominee Taraji P Henson, in an achingly beautiful embrace, and started her speech with a quote from Harriet Tubman. She thanked her peers – and Henson – who continued to stand clapping even as everyone else remained seated, and Kerry Washington, who looked on tearfully with palpable joy and appreciation. She thanked How to Get Away with Murder showrunner Shonda Rhimes, who couldn’t attend the ceremony because of work commitments.

Although the sisterhood is in full effect, I cannot help but feel somewhat averse regarding the continuous weight black women are expected to carry in Hollywood. It is the burden of not only having to do the job better than white women in roles that are scarcely written for them, but of then having to be perceivably, and endlessly, grateful about it in an industry that is propelled almost entirely by white privilege and unaccounted for ignorance.

Viola Davis has been carrying this burden for years. Remember when Charlize Theron interrupted her mid-sentence when Viola was trying to explain what it feels like to be unseen in Hollywood? Or when the New York Times described her as “older, darker-skinned and less classically beautiful”? Immediately following Viola’s win, General Hospital actor Nancy Grahn started in with a stream of tweets about how difficult it was for “all women” to get roles in television, among other utterly tone-deaf thoughts regarding diversity and liberalism and marching, or something.

Read more here.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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