Illustration: Benjamin Currie (G/O Media)

It’s awards season and that means your blood pressure and sugar levels are likely to go up and down if you spend any time paying attention to who is winning the various awards at the various awards shows. The “biggest nights” in music and movies, though, often do a fairly terrible job of acknowledging the work and achievements of so many individuals in the black community who have given their all to their craft. Well, The Root is going to right that ship. We present to you The Blackest Awards, and in honor of the founder of The Root, Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr., we will refer to them as The Skippies.

Why are we doing this? What are The Skippies? We’re glad that you asked. The Skippies are our way to celebrate those often unsung individuals and moments in cinema and television that exemplify black excellence; The Skippies allow us to acknowledge and appreciate the people and works that have helped shape Black culture.

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Every year, in February, The Root will bring you a cadre of nominees who have elevated the black arts in movies and television. By culling the works of art presented each year helmed, created and executed by black people, we will give our artists their flowers while we still can. This inaugural edition of The Blackest Awards will, however, be all-encompassing and include nominees that span eras and decades. And we need your help!

The Root assembled a seven-person committee to debate this inaugural group of nominees. At the end of our discussions, we came up with a list of nominees for each category that we are bringing to you, the readers, to decide who will win awards at the inaugural Skippies. As with all categories for all awards shows, there are equally deserving individuals who could also be nominees, but we had to come up with a list of nominees, so we did.

Voting opens up today and runs through Friday, Feb. 7. Get your vote on and in, and welcome to The Skippies. Please see below for each category and the nominees, and please vote. As Nathan, Michael, Shawn and Wanya sang in 2000, we thank you in advance.

Esther Rolle Black Mother Award

Awarded to the individual whose work representing a black mother/motherhood has been exemplary and worthy of note.

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James Avery Black Father Award

Awarded to the individual whose work representing a black father/fatherhood has been exemplary and worthy of note.

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Best Black Person Playing Another Black Person in a Biopic

This award recognizes the talents of those who set the bar at its highest when portraying other black legends.

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Love Jones Award for Best Black Movie Soundtrack

Love Jones: The Music is fairly universally lauded in all corners of blackness as a gold standard in movie soundtrack glory. It is with this aural spirit that we recognize other black movie soundtracks that flourish alongside the movie that inspired the compositions.

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The My Office Hours Are From 9-5 Award for Most Iconic Scene in a Movie or Television Show

The Five Heartbeats, the classic Robert Townsend film, gave us so much cinematic gloriousness, but its most lasting legacy may be in the effective explanation of normal business hours. All Birds don’t fly.

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The “Until You Do Right By Me…” Award for Most Iconic Statement Uttered in a Movie or Television Show

The Color Purple, the classic 1985 film that brought Alice Walker’s novel to life and introduced most of us to Ms. Celie, Ms. Sophia, Mister, Shug Avery and Harpo, is a quote fest. One of the most iconic is when Ms. Celie, on her way out the door, told Mister that until he did right by her, everything he did was gon’ crumble. She wasn’t lying.

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You Did That! Content Creator of the Year Award

In homage to those who create the content that speaks to our lives and carefully tells the stories of our community without sacrificing our humanity.

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John Singleton Award for Black Excellence in Directing Excellent Blackness

John Singleton was a giant in the black filmmaking world, and a spirit gone too soon. We pay respects to his work while acknowledging those titans who have directed the movies and shows that outline our culture.

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Richard Pryor “Oh, You Funny AF” Award for Best Black Comedian

Richard Pryor is arguably the greatest comedian to ever have done it. We pay homage to those others who both follow in his footsteps and blaze their own paths through social commentary, hilarity and blackness.

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Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.

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