Oscar controversy

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Believe if not (as if there are no other important pending problems in our country), the Oscars have become a topic of contention. The Oscars are awards given for achievement in the movie industry in various categories by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science in Hollywood. No doubt this is a subjective vote and as it stands, dominated by a predominately White membership composed mostly of White men over the age of 60. It should be of no surprise in the post-civil rights era that if their overall vote reflects the views or likes of people in this country, diversity is dead or asleep.

For the second year, the nomination of people of color, especially Blacks, has been minimized or omitted altogether, bringing about what many call a ‘Whitewash’ of the Oscars. That is not saying much, because throughout the 88-year history of the Oscars, Blacks have been omitted or thrown a bone from time to time—if for no other reason, to suggest the Academy is not totally prejudiced. It should not be surprising that despite the positive and respected roles Blacks have portrayed in many inspiring movies, when they are given an Oscar, it is usually for playing a derogatory or sordid character. Regardless of your stance or opinion, the facts speak for themselves.

One cannot deny that drastic changes, not idle talk and promises are necessary to diversify the Academy (voting members), so the awards will be more reflective of recognizing and honoring people of color. This also means that more people of color are needed to work in the different areas in the film industry. This may not be important to some people, blind from operating from a position of privilege and entitlements. However, it is important to people of color, especially their children, to see people who look like themselves receive Oscars just to show that they count.

All too often our society has subliminally planted in people of color the notion that they are subservient and inferior to their White counterparts.
Thus you have a segment of people buying into that mindset, not knowing any better because of Eurocentric indoctrination. This mindset is further supported when they see award shows showering awards on people because of their talents and creativity—but often devoid of persons of color. It is about time this flagrant display reflective of White superiority be truly addressed, examined, and rectified.

Putting our heads in the ground as if lack of racial diversity is not a problem in the Academy/film industry is not an option anymore. There is an elephant in the room and it cannot be ignored any longer. One of the sad parts of identifying this problem is how the media is trying to play various African Americans against each other. I refuse to give any credence to Blacks or Whites laundering personal differences, because it takes away from the real issues. The real issues are the lack of diversity and inclusion in the Academy voting on the Oscars. We also need more inclusion of people of color in the various categories involved in the movie industry. It is not about any one given person.

As far as boycotting the Oscars, that is a personal decision. But I had already decided not to watch the award show after no person of color was nominated. I wish that all people of color (along with Whites truly wanting equality and inclusion for all Americans) felt as I do. I wish they not only refuse to watch the show, but also boycott the show’s sponsors. It would be a united declaration for change. What better way to resonate the message that people of color matter than by hitting these companies in their pockets?

Hopefully, one day diversity will truly be the norm and be reflected as the American way. Until that happens, it should be understandable why people of color should have awards shows honoring their own when they are consistently left out of the big picture. Contrary to those who state differently, racism is alive and kicking in America.

I’m hoping everyone will do their part to make this a country representing all its citizens.