Oscars: Systematic Snubs?

Jayla Jones, Feature writer

This year’s Oscars Awards is predominately white, with little to no recognition given to actors and actresses who are people of color. With movies such as Creed, Straight Outta Compton, and Concussion making big waves in the movie business this past year, they failed to get the proper recognition for their extraordinary efforts.

With the #OscarsSoWhite phenom taking over Twitter, and the fact that last year’s awards ceremony was looking just as pale, it had many people wondering when mediocre white movies started to out shine outstanding black movies.

Many are wondering if these movies are just really bad snubs or systematic racism.

 

It’s no secret that Hollywood has a problem with achieving diversity. In fact, according to NPR.org, every aspect of Hollywood acting is dominated by white people, males specifically, 82-94 percent more than minorities.

 

What does this mean? It means that no matter what role or what type of character is to be portrayed, white people are significantly more likely to get the part, taking away the little opportunity minorities have in the business.

 

Opportunity is the one thing that separates success and failure, recognition and nonrecognition.

 

Viola Davis, an award winning actress, said it best at last year’s Emmys Awards when she gave an incredible acceptance speech for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her work on How to Get Away with Murder. She spoke on the lack of roles available for people of color, and even though it’s a widespread problem among all people of color, she focused on women specifically.

 

“The only thing that separates women of color from everyone else is opportunity,” Davis said. “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

 

The Oscars are specifically here to award movies, but how does it compare to other award shows such as the Grammy’s or the Emmy’s, two award shows that happily acknowledge the achievements of minority people whether it’s for their work in in music, production, or television acting.

 

Some could argue the Oscars aren’t too welcoming of minorities because of who the ‘judges’ are. The academy, the ‘judges’ of the Oscars, are all white. There is not one person of color on the board or on their band of governors.

 

How is a group of older white people supposed to acknowledge and critique movies that are heavily embedded in black culture? Movies such as Creed or Straight Outta Compton are already at a huge disadvantage with just that simple detail.

 

Aside from the Oscar’s controversy, discussions about race have been flourishing all Black History Month. With Beyonce’s recent Black Panther based performance at the Super Bowl and Kendrick Lamar’s jaw dropping performance at this year’s Grammy’s, black empowerment has been televised on a large scale.

 

20 years ago, performances such as those wouldn’t have even been thought about being televised. Now, televising black culture they can be considered one of the norms, you know, not on the Oscars stage that is.

 

The Oscars’ representation team denies that having all white nominees this year or last was on purpose, but considering that after all the backlash they got, the academy started to search for big name black actors and activists to present awards.

 

Sounds like guilt to me.

 

However, what they fail to realize is that having black people present the awards isn’t going to satisfy anyone. Black people deserve to win the awards, not pass them on.

 

To solve the overall lack of diversity at the Oscars, you’d have to first solve the lack of diversity in Hollywood as a whole. While that’s a big responsibility, starting smaller and focusing on achieving diversity in the academy and on the Oscars’ board of governors would be a more realistic move that would have a big impact.

 

A lot needs to change, but hopefully next year will be better.