Sunday night presented, in the words of the brilliant Naomie Harris, an awkward situation for Best Picture winners Moonlight.
It laid bare an American society that seemed more comfortable with praising the 'good willingness' of the La La Land team for graciously conceding an award that wasn't theirs (would you expect anything less from a group of adults?), than black filmmakers and actors having their moment to shine.
Moonlight lost their moment in the spotlight down to an unfortunate error. It does not now mean that the coveted Best Picture award has to be shared. It does not mean that the cover of Variety magazine should be shared between Barry Jenkins and Damien Chazelle.
If anything, Chazelle, the youngest director to win Best Director, aged 32, should have fronted the cover himself. It is, after all, tradition for the winner of that accolade to have the Variety cover. In sharing it, and with the headline, 'Amazing Grace', it detracts from Moonlight's real victory as a trailblazer.
Moonlight has triumphed for both the black and the LGBTQ community in the US, and the media presents a story of a gracious defeat, not a brilliant team of black artists producing a beautiful, heartrending film worthy of Best Picture. The narrative needs to be changed, now.
Institutional incompetence often demands black civility and gratitude even when an egregious error has occurred. Just because the error was unintentional doesn’t make it any less significant. We have to ask how messed up it is to ask black artists to win in an environment that screams, “There is no place for you!” And we have to acknowledge that while diversity might be about sharing the stage, the work of dismantling white privilege is about the far more challenging task of white people having less access to the stages and awards that they've always had. Moonlight’s moment in the sun was well deserved, and it is unfortunate that the messy work of diversity almost eclipsed it out of view.