Rutgers students discuss #OscarsSoWhite
During this year's Academy Awards, no person of color was nominated for any major acting award, which is when the hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite became viral.
April Reign, managing editor of broadwayblack.com and editor at large of NU Tribe Magazine, created the hashtag when only white people were nominated for acting awards. It soon became viral on social media, according to the LA Times.
“It happened because I was disappointed once again in the lack of diversity and inclusion with respect to the nominees,” Reign said in the article.
“Straight Outta Compton,” “Creed,” “Beasts of No Nation” and “Concussion” are examples of movies starring black leads that were acclaimed by audiences and critics alike.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, “Creed” has a 94-percent rating, “Straight Outta Compton” has 88 percent, “Beasts of No Nation” has 91 percent and “Concussion” has 63 percent. These are generally considered positive ratings by critics.
Jasmine Dennis, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore and a member of the Black Student Union, was initially disappointed with lack of diversity in the nominations.
“I was upset because in prior years we’ve been able to get a couple of nominees. This year marked an amazing year for black actors and actresses. I was immediately frustrated, but it wasn’t something I was shocked to hear,” Dennis said.
But Dennis was pleased to see how many people and celebrities were using the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to share their opinion.
"Even Chris Rock came out and talked about how even though he is hosting the Oscars, he understands that black actors and actresses aren’t recognized the way they should be," she said.
Sarah Essa, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said the nominations at the Academy Awards were disheartening.
"I definitely think that it shows the history behind the United States in terms of institutional racism, and just African-Americans not being represented the way they should be in terms of the arts and entertainment,” she said.
But Essa said she is happy there is dialogue taking place regarding the misrepresentation of other races.
"I’m happy that people are finally starting to make this a conversation, because I definitely think it’s needed, and I think this is where the beginning of justice can be started in a way,” Essa said.
Some students were not surprised by the lack of diversity.
Cory Ward, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said everyone is starting to pay more attention to an issue that has been present for a long time.
"I think the hashtag, just the name of the hashtag isn’t really saying much," he said. "I think it’s going to spark the wrong type of conversation aside from ones that should be had which is more about getting more diversity."
Celebrities such as Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee are boycotting the Oscars, according to CNN. They both announced on social media that they are not supporting the ceremony this year.
“I’m actually happy that big actors and actresses like Jada Pinkett and Will Smith, and even Lupita Nyong’o who even won an Oscar a couple of years ago are not attending the Oscars," Dennis said.
Black actors and actresses work as hard as white actors and actresses, so they should be acknowledged for their work, she said.
There has also been criticism regarding the hashtag, such as from actress Janet Hubert.
“(Hubert) did have a point that we should be focusing on something more important like the Flint crisis. But as a black actress, she should know the amount they put in to get quality roles,” he said.
Regardless, this conversation had to start somewhere, Essa said.
“I think it’s good that it is bringing conversation and it is letting people of our generation talk about these issues, because it should be talked about," Ward said. "As far as celebrity reactions and boycotts I think it’s about time that people do something about it. I don’t know if boycotting will do anything, but it’s something."
Christopher Bohorquez is a School of Arts and Sciences junior. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. See more on Twitter @c_bo_sauce.