Posted on March 22, 2022

Jane Campion’s Casual Racism Is a Symptom of the World’s Problem With Black Women

Candace McDuffie, The Root, March 21, 2022

It’s been a week since Jane Campion received backlash for her now infamous Critics’ Choice Awards speech. As she accepted the accolade for Best Director for her film The Power of The Dog last Sunday, Campion started out by acknowledging the “incredible women” in the room. {snip} Then she set her sights on Venus and Serena Williams (King Richard, the film about how their father shaped their career, was nominated for 6 awards).

Campion shared with the audience that she had personally taken up tennis before inviting the pair to her house to give her lessons. As if all of this wasn’t bizarre enough, she somehow managed to put her foot in her mouth even more. Right after sending “love” to the guys, she said: “Serena and Venus, you are such marvels. However, you do not play against the guys like I have to.”


Shortly after her speech, the internet was ablaze with anger, confusion and disgust. Author Saeed Jones tweeted: “That Jane Campion whiplash is a perfect distillation of white feminism.” Writer and actor Ryan Ken noted: “It’s so revealing when you attempt a point about sexism and your first thought goes to minimizing Black women. Into a microphone. While accepting an award. Looking at them in their faces & smiling. This is exactly why you have to wait a few business years to clap for white women.”

The day after the ceremony, Campion issued a statement in which she explained she “did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world-class athletes.” {snip}


The New Zealand native–like other bigoted white people and non-Black people of color–participate in anti-Blackness whether they choose to admit it or not. {snip}


The truth is Campion is not an anomaly–she is the norm. The world will coddle her racism because that is what it is built to do: protect whiteness at all costs. And while she is plotting her next film treatment, Black women–the group of people that are always the lowest hanging fruit–will be forced to brace themselves for the next casually racist encounter.