ABC/ Mike Coppola/Getty Images / ABC

The 94th Oscars Black History Moments We Shouldn't Forget

xoNecole was in the room where it happened. Here's our biggest takeaways.

Culture & Entertainment
Last week, I asked, "How Black Will Oscars' Night Be?" And just as I predicted, it was pretty Black! The 94th Academy Awards made Black history several times over on Sunday night. Not only that, but ratings were up 56% over last year's all-time low. There is a lot to celebrate about what went down at the Oscars this year! But what's been on everyone's minds and Twitter fingers ever since was the Slap heard 'round the world.
xoNecole was in the Dolby Theater for our parent company Will Packer Productions' making history as the first all-Black producing team in the Oscars' 94 years--and yes, the moment was shocking and confusing, with guests reacting much like those at home, wondering was the presumed Best Actor Will Smith doing a bit when he walked onto the stage and open-handed slapped Chris Rock after a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith's bald head? It was quickly clear that it wasn't, with those of us up in the theater's rafters looking to Twitter for a replay of what exactly went down.

But we should not forget some truly amazing moments in Black history that went down at this year's Oscars.

xoNecole was on the red carpet talking to your faves about what this moment meant for Black people, Oscars host Regina Hall, Best Supporting Actress Aunjanue Ellis, Oscar winner H.E.R., Oscar winner Ruth E. Carter, presenters Chloë x Halle and more:

Oscar Winner Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson celebrates his Oscar with Denzel Washington

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

At The Academy's Governors Awards the night before the Oscars, Denzel Washington presented his peer and friend Samuel L. Jackson with this year's honorary Oscar. The 73-year-old acting veteran has been on our screens for most of his life, alongside Washington and Spike Lee. After being nominated for Supporting Actor for his role in Pulp Fiction, Jackson now has his first Oscar!

Blue Ivy Gave The Opening Performance

Baby, Blue Ivy was MOVING, okay? Dance moves on point. An icon. A legend. We didn't deserve it, but I'm so glad Blue Blue let her mom sing background for her debut performance at the Oscars. She can add this accolade to her illustrious Emmy, Grammy and literary awards.

'The Queen of Basketball' Received Best Documentary Short 

One of the early, exciting moments from the pre-taped show was when The Queen ofBasketball won for best documentary short (just as I predicted!). The floor vibrated as the family of Lucy Harris, the first woman to ever play in the NBA, celebrated the Oscar win in her honor. Sadly, Lucy passed just months before the nominations were announced, so she never got to see how her pioneering story would reach international acclaim. "Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus!" Her family and loved ones shouted out from the rafters above and behind me in the Dolby Theater. Their energy and joy were electric! And Director Ben Proudfoot ended his acceptance speech with an appeal: "President Biden, bring Brittney Griner home!" A Black history moment and icon we should never forget. Watch the Oscar-winning documentary short below:

Ariana DeBose Won Best Supporting Actress 

The first award of the (televised) night went to Ariana DeBose for Best Supporting Actress in West Side Story, (as predicted) making her the first Afro-Latina, openly queer woman to win the award. Quoting her famous musical in her acceptance speech, she said "So to anyone who has ever questioned your identity, or you find yourself living in the gray spaces, I promise you this: there is indeed 'a place for us.'"

Megan Thee Stallion Is The First Female Rapper To Perform 

One of the more pleasant surprises of the evening was seeing Megan Thee Stallion performing the hit song from Encanto by Lin Manuel Miranda, "We Don't Talk About Bruno." While you may remember the famous performance from Oscar winners Three-Six Mafia of "Hard Out Here For A Pimp," Megan's performance was the first-ever by a female rapper in Oscars history. Keep doing it big for the Hot Girls, Meg!

A Disabled Black Woman Was Defended Against Ableism and Misogynoir


THE OSCARS® – The 94th Oscars® aired live Sunday March 27, from the Dolby® Theatre at Ovation Hollywood at 8 p.m. EDT/5 p.m. PDT on ABC in more than 200 territories worldwide. (ABC)

For too long, comedians like Chris Rock have built their entire careers on mocking how Black women look, talk, dress and act and we're always expected to take it because it's "just jokes." I'd wager that part of what seems to be so offensive to people in the aftermath of the Slap is not that Chris Rock got popped in the mouth for mocking a Black woman's appearance, it's that this violent, ableist, misogynoiristic 'joke' is supposed to be acceptable. Open season on the most unprotected and disrespected people in America, the Black woman, is assumed, and how dare Chris Rock face consequences for it? Alopecia is an autoimmune disease. Jada Pinkett Smith is disabled. A Black disabled woman was defended against ableism and misogynoir in front of the world on Sunday night. While we'll have to wait for Jada to speak specifically on how she felt about the offense or the defense, I hope more 'comedians' think twice before mocking Black women for a white audience's laughter and actually try to be funny next time.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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