Since the inception of the Academy Awards, in 1929, only 22 Black actors have won Oscars. And while that’s not a shock given the notoriously white nature of Hollywood and the movie industry, the Oscars connect to Black history in a way not many people know about.
The ancient Egyptians held one of the earliest award shows known to human history. Ptah, the god of artisans and craftspeople, was worshipped for his powerful creativity, and it was during the celebration of his festival that images and pictures were honored.
Ptah was associated with new bodies in sculpture and visual images and the process of life and rebirth. The best sculptures and artists were gifted small statuettes of Ptah by the Pharoah. So what does this have to do with Oscars?
The Oscar award is said to be a knight holding a crusader’s sword, but it’s hard to miss how similar this award is to the Ptah statuette, which depicts the god standing upright, holding a scepter.
There’s another reason the Oscars has our attention.
Back in ancient Egypt, just like today, award shows were celebrations of cultural expression. Anytime our work is left out, appropriated, or discounted, we need to act to ensure that our freedom doesn’t follow. Tell our stories. Celebrate our greatness. And above all, fight for the survival of our history.