Thursday, 24 September 2015

Opinion: Asking for the opportunity to prove ourselves

This is good acting
I watch very little television if I watch any at all, the things that fascinate me are murder mysteries, educational documentaries, detective series, trains and travel.
However, from the moment I saw the trailer for How to Get Away with Murder starring Viola Davis, I was hooked, by both the title and the drama. When I eventually got into the series, I was quite enamoured by the strength of the character of Professor Annalise Keating as portrayed by Viola Davis, I recorded the whole series.
In the weekend, Viola Davis, unbeknownst to me became the first African-American lady to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series and her acceptance speech so seriously deviated from the norm by paying a glowing tribute those who had opened the way before her in the quest for the recognition and adoration of their peers in entertainment.
A speech well made
This is the full text of her acceptance speech as transcribed by the New York Times, but one cannot help but excerpt a cogent part of the speech. “The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity.
Whilst, I will not be too forward in suggesting I have suffered the loss of opportunity, I can fully understand the sentiment that informed her speech where for whatever indecipherable reasons I have missed out on opportunities not offered to me when for all intents and purposes I am well qualified for the job I interviewed for.
Then again, I cannot put it down to overt racism, yet when having been interviewed and well considered an executive at the BBC in 1991 decides he’ll rather not give me the job because I was not extending myself enough or in his words, I was short-selling myself, you wonder.
Open for opportunity
More recently, it was an interview with a major bank where apparently I did not pass the muster for Miss Congeniality for the job. These experiences begin to introduce doubt and literally beat you down that you have to find strength from within to rise beyond that situation.
Yet, I could paraphrase Viola Davis and say that for many, “The only thing that separates minorities in any society from everyone else is opportunity.” Being given the opportunity to prove that they are both able and capable because some assumption, presumption or dare I say, prejudice has led to people at the gate not letting others into their fold for all sorts of reasons.
She goes on to say that, “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” By extension, you cannot win accolades, praise, recognition or promotion for opportunities not granted to those who generally by default are not amongst the first to be considered for such placements.
Entitlement debasing opportunity
Then again, I see other areas where people who generally get given these opportunities abuse and squander them foisting their sense of entitlement into the situation.
In the light of this, I find myself antithetical to the smart and apparently beautiful Charlotte Proudman and I note the significance of her surname when on being complimented for her looks in connecting with an eminent male lawyer on the LinkedIn professional network took umbrage at age-old chivalry to deem it sexist. [The Student]
There is an element of political correctness in this reading that bothers somewhat old-fashioned people like myself who will have the tendency to compliment, offer a seat to ladies, take off my hat when speaking to a lady or step forward to open a door for a lady – that is the cultured and expected decorum expected of gentlemen and it in no way belittles the professional attributes of the lady.
Try some emotional intelligence too
In a way, I felt quite sorry for Alexander Carter-Silk who being a generation ahead of the lady was slightly conscious of the possibility that a compliment might be taken wrongly and yet chose to make it in good faith. The Internet shaming of the man shows how discretion is no more a matter of valour for another generation. [LegalCheek]
For all the commentary for and against that episode, I will very well understand and quite sadly appreciate that Miss Proudman with all her academic intelligence and feistiness might have blown certain opportunities that would naturally be open to her in the pride that always presages the self-fulfilling prophecy of a fall. The requisite amount of emotional intelligence always helps in communicating umbrage or agreement.
Then again, Miss Proudman because of her extrovert self-esteem and intelligence displayed a sense of entitlement and effrontery that can be both emasculating and aggressively off-putting, she will go far.
Yet, I commend all those who grasp any opportunity they are given to become and excel and for that also I commend Viola Davis.

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