Commentary: Oscars are still so white

Anisa Saigo | Staff Writer

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Photo Credit: Unsplash User Denise Jans

The Oscars have been the highlight of almost every actor’s dream for more than 90 years. The glitz, the glamour and the expenses that these amazing actors and actresses go above and beyond for don’t go unnoticed on the most famous red carpet ever.

What does go unnoticed, however, is the lack of appreciation for black actors.

You would think by 2020, things would be different, but it is no different than 80 years ago, when Hattie McDaniel became the first black actor to win an Academy Award. Even then, McDaniel had to sit at a segregated table that was not with the cast of “Gone with the Wind.” On top of that, keep in mind that the Academy Awards was hosted in a “no Blacks” hotel.

Five years ago, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was created and surged to popularity to recognize black people and those of other races not being acknowledged for their hard work in film.

Five years later, the Academy membership still is made up, predominantly, of white males. According to Variety.com, the membership is 84% white males and 68% male. When you have people who can’t relate to movies such as “Queen and Slim” and “Harriet,” it can be quite hard for them to have an opinion.

“Harriet” star Cynthia Erivo was the only black actor to receive an Oscar nomination for the Feb. 9 ceremony.

“I’m so tired of it,” Ava DuVernay, who is black and was the director of “Selma,” told USA Today. “We care about [winning an Oscar] because it’s a mark of distinction around the world. … It’s not the end-all, be-all; it’s not the arbiter of good taste or achievement. It’s a lovely thing that’s a cherry on top of the work.”

In 92 years, only 17 black actors have won an Oscar. Several of those awards have been given for roles that display stereotypes about black people such as Lupita Nyong’o as a slave in “12 Years a Slave” and “Octavia Spencer” as a maid in “The Help.”

This is why award shows such as the BET Awards have been created to highlight black achievements and appreciation for black culture. 

It is easy to view a film and have an opinion on the way it was directed, the way the actors act, and so on, but when a judgment is made before actually viewing a film starring black actors, it’s hard to believe it’s the best judgment.

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