Arts and Culture

Thank you, Viola Davis, for explaining ‘opportunity’

Viola Davis accepts her Emmy. Photo courtesy of Iowa State Daily
Viola Davis accepts her Emmy. Photo courtesy of Iowa State Daily

The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity”, said Emmy Award winner Viola Davis last Sunday night. We could only expect so much from someone who is the first black woman to win an Emmy Award. She is now, more than ever, one of the most influential women of our time.

In her show, “How to Get Away with Murder,” Viola Davis portrays a complex criminal defense attorney and law professor at Middleton University in Philadelphia, PA, where she and five of her students are entangled in a murder plot. Her beauty and talent make it only obvious that an actress of her quality and standard should win an Emmy Award. But, does it really?

Being in late 2015 and having the first black woman winning an Emmy feels like President Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act in 1964. It is certainly too little and much too late.

Although I feel enthralled that a new step towards racial equality in the United States of America has finally been made, I cannot shut out the voice in my head telling me that it is still not good enough and that we can do better. 

Oprah Winfrey’s name can never be forgotten or dismissed when discussing the presence of Black women and women of color in the media. This is due to two very different reasons. Firstly, Oprah Winfrey’s work and achievements are simply too grand and impressive to ignore. And secondly, there are barely any other women of color who can be included in that category due to the lack of such ‘opportunity’. 

Of course, some great names always come to mind; Michelle Obama, Beyonce and Serena Williams. Yet, other than that, I must admit, I’m afraid, that my imagination has run short. It is with surprise, yet with a touch of despair, that I admit that women of color are simply not properly represented in today’s entertainment business as well as in many other areas of the professional life. Even so, I could not help but celebrate the joy when seeing that my list has grown with one more amazing name: Viola Davis. 

I raise my glass to you, Viola Davis, along with all the inspiring women you have mentioned in your speech who have redefined once more, “What it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black”.