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The Academy Keeps Dreaming of a White Oscars

2015 was a pretty good year for black films and quality black performances as well.

2015 was a pretty good year for black films and quality black performances as well. From Will Smith’s performance in Concussion, Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation, Michael B. Jordan in Creed and the marvelous offering that was Straight Outta Compton, there were a plethora of vehicles that wowed the imagination, challenged our wits and played with our heart strings.

However, the complete absence of black thespians and creators among the nominations for the 2016 Academy Awards comes as no surprise.

Even though Chris Rock is hosting this year’s Oscars and Reginald Hudlin is a producer, the conversation remains as unchanged regarding the lack of diversity among the nominees, or the lack of diversity among the roles for which Blacks are nominated.

Indeed, there were a number of head-scratchers among the list of nominees, including Mad Max: Fury Road. I enjoyed this movie, but at no time thought it deserved to be nominated for Best Picture.


But this year, it seems like it’s “All white everything” as far as the Academy is concerned.


Over the weekend, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith released a video on Facebook in which she lambasted the Academy for their unrelenting diversity problems and announced that she was boycotting the awards. 

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(Academy Award Nominations, Getty Images)

Is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence, that we have amassed, that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere? she said. Maybe its time that we recognize that if we love and respect and acknowledge ourselves in the way in which we are asking others to do, that that is the place of true power.Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power and we are a dignified people, and we are powerful. Lets not forget it.


There are certainly those that question whether she would have spoken out had her husband Will Smith been nominated for Concussion, but the means by which she came to this end isn’t as important as the conclusion she reached.

Yesterday, she was joined by legendary filmmaker and recent recipient of the Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award Spike Lee, who made his announcement on Instagram using a graduation photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr to hammer home his point.


Academy president Cheryl Boone, who is also black, said she was both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion among the nominations and would do everything she could to increase diversity next year.

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Meanwhile, the Academy Awards will take place without Jada and Spike on February 28. 

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Ricardo A Hazell has served as Senior Contributor with The Shadow League since coming to the company in 2013. His byline has appeared in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the South China Sea Post, the Root and many other publications. At TSL he is charged with exploring re black cultural angles of where they intersect with the mainstream.