Curtain should not fall on talent of black roles
Diversity does not mean inclusion. Just because there are television networks or classrooms where individuals from minority backgrounds are present does not mean that these individuals feel welcome or represented.
Once again #OscarsSoWhite is trending, but the lack of black actors being nominated for Academy Awards is nothing new. All of the individuals nominated for the leading role and supporting role categories were white. Subpar films like "Spotlight" and "Bridge of Spies" were nominated, while "Creed" and "Straight Outta Compton" went unacknowledged.
As a film, "Creed" was not worthy of an Oscar nomination. It was a decent movie with a simple plotline that only a true "Rocky" fan could appreciate. But how is it that Sylvester Stallone was nominated for a role in a movie that was about Apollo Creed’s son? Fictional or not, "Creed" was a black boxer. It’s one thing to deny lead actor Michael B. Jordan the nomination, but to give a nomination to one of the few white actors in the film a nomination — especially in a supporting role — is quite literally a racial snub.
Then what about "Straight Outta Compton?" It was a slap in the face that police presence was preemptively increased around movie theaters, as officials assumed fights and riots would break out upon the film’s release. Despite these prejudiced assumptions, the film received rave reviews and grossed millions of dollars. And still as a continuation of the disrespect, leading actor O'Shea Jackson Jr. and his father, producer Ice Cube, were snubbed in the way of a nomination. But of course the film received a nomination for Best Screenplay, leaving Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff to reap the benefits. Such a nomination proves the movie was good and warrants accolades, but not good enough for a black actor to be rewarded for.
When you have to Google, “How many African-American actors have won Oscars?,” that’s a problem. Calling out Halle Berry and Denzel Washington as Oscar winners is not enough. Once again, diversity does not mean inclusion. In the same breath, those that have gone on to win Oscars do so in the supporting role category and for portraying traditional “black” roles such slaves or mistresses. Yet when we play the roles that they want to see, everything is okay.
So why is it that everyone can be up in arms about Leonardo DiCaprio never winning an Oscar, but when black actors and actresses get snubbed out of even getting a nomination, these men and women become the undeserving, race-card-pulling whiners of Hollywood.
As long as the Academy is controlled by alabaster faces, we as a race of black people will never see our actors and actresses being praised for roles that celebrate our blackness and take us out of the subordination that we’ve so long been forced to succumb to.
Like all black people in America, black actors and actresses are fighting to survive in an industry that was not created for them. But the Academy is not going anywhere. The awards ceremony will always been praised as the pinnacle in filmmaking. Whether it’s through boycotting the ceremony or repeatedly proving that black actors and actresses can play pivotal roles, it’s time for the Academy to wake up.
Yvanna Saint-Fort is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in political science and journalism and media studies with a minor in public policy. She is the opinions editor at The Daily Targum.
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