Jason Reynolds: April Newsletter

You know what I’ve been thinking about lately? Awards. Maybe that’s because we’re in the midst of awards season in the entertainment industry, the Oscars and Grammys having just recently taken place. And every year, during this time, I’m glued to the television, watching people get nominated for their talent. And every year, I watch about 90 percent of them lose. The handful that win, they usually get on stage and thank their fellow nominees, their families and their teams, but most of them also make it a point to take a moment to shine light on something a bit more serious than a movie, or a song.

This is usually the part of the speech that brings me to tears. The reason being, it’s the part of the speech that actually matters to me. Because though I am happy for the winner (usually), I don’t know their families, or their agents and managers, or the directors of their movies, or the producers of their albums. I don’t know any of the people who have helped to get them where they are, on that big stage with the bright lights, dressed in gorgeous garb, glammed up from head to toe. That feels far away. But to bring light to an injustice, to some of the loose threads in our world, some of our jaggedness, I am suddenly transported from my living room into the theater. Or maybe they are transported from the theater into my living room, and we are now crying together. On my couch. Crying for our lives, or loves, or world.

And sometimes, I wonder if some of the artists who didn’t win had something even more poignant to say. What if one of the nominees who stayed seated had the key to some part of my emotional prison and could’ve set a sliver of me free? Or could’ve said the thing to spark a global movement? Or could’ve honored a quieted human who deserves more light than any of our entertainers? How would we ever know? What if? What if?

What’s the point of all this, you ask? Well … I don’t know. I guess, as someone who has received awards, I’m just thinking about how we want to win them for our work, to be praised for our efforts and abilities, but I’m not always sure our work is worth anything if the people we make it for can’t be free. It doesn’t mean we can’t provide a smile or a moment of respite, but a broken world can’t be healed by a Band-Aid, no matter how creative it might be. So maybe we — or at least I — will start thinking of awards as just opportunities to shine light on someone other than myself. And if we all were to think of awards that way, no one, or at least the people who actually matter, could ever lose. We’d be fighting, yearning, hoping for the victory of us all.

Or at least the opportunity to say that victory, as it pertains to free life, should stretch beyond any red carpet or ballroom.

Thinking of Ukraine. And you.

As ever,

Jason

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7 Comments

  1. Sher
    April 11, 2022 at 10:25 am

    Jason, love how you saw the bigger picture of life which ought to embrace all of us.

  2. Kristin E Chittick
    April 11, 2022 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you, Jason!
    That was poignant! That was spot-on!
    Also, thinking of Ukraine.
    Best to you,
    Kristin

  3. Cloud
    April 11, 2022 at 8:35 pm

    At the worst of the covid, I observed my daughter giving little thank you notes to the crew of our local Walmart while we were shopping, and a middle age man read the card she had given him and started crying. I realized something awful: this was a person that nobody had ever thanked for anything; it was the reason he was so emotional. So, you are right, we should be praising and thank somebody every day. We don’t have to wait to be the winner to give thanks around us.Thank you for reminding us!

  4. Bill Reilly
    April 11, 2022 at 11:36 pm

    Thank you!

  5. Louis-Marie Pandzou
    April 13, 2022 at 12:08 am

    Ce qui est victoire pour le commun des mortels, c’est le fait que tout le monde voit quelqu’un brandir un trophée, c’est voir quelqu’un monter sur un tapis, c’est voir quelqu’un être proclamé vainqueur.

    Pourtant, il y a de vrais vainqueurs qui ont été injustement oubliés et que seul le temps permettra de réhabiliter.

    Ce sera peut-être un peu tard parce qu’ils n’auront plus la possibilité d’extérioriser et de savourer leur victoire. Parce que c’est au fond de leur coeur qu’ils se sauront victoire.

    Dans ce bas monde, c’est la raison du plus fort qui est la meilleure. C’est à celui qui est plus fort et qui gagne sur le terrain. Le perdant doit faire contre mauvaise fortune bon cœur. Il doit apprendre à ronger. Pourtant en réalité, c’est lui le vrai vainqueur.

    Poutine aura raison parce qu’il aura gagné sur le terrain. Et il faudra attendre pour que le vrai vainqueur qui aura été battu sur le terrain, soit réhabilité.

  6. Terri Carter
    April 17, 2022 at 9:26 am

    If it were not for the slap of Chris Rock by Will Smith making the headlines, I would not have known the Oscars ever took place. I stopped watching the award shows a few years ago since nothing I watched or listened to ever made it for the Hollywood elite. I have better things to do with my time. Going by the ratings, so do most people.

  7. Nancy CROMWELL SCOTT
    April 18, 2022 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you for all your thoughtful writing and commentary, but most especially for your superb audio recording of “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” which I have recommended to several others. I’ve listened to it twice and could listen again and learn something new.

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