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By Asia Daggs
Blog Content Contributor

The 88th Academy Awards will be airing on February 28 and we are all overly eager to see what it brings. However, over the past few weeks, trending topics such as #OscarsSoWhite and #OscarsSoDumb have been circling on social media and in the news. This uproar began with the release of the nominees; all of the categories are predominately white and it seems as if the minorities were left out.

The academy is made up of over 6,000 members that consists of, but is not limited to, actors, editors, writers and directors that are only able to vote in their field. Membership can be appointed by sponsorship from existing members, meeting certain requirements or being nominated for having previous Oscar nominations/wins. The members are asked to create a list of five names in preference order and then the official nominees are weaved out from the quotient of the number of ballots and the number of potential nominees plus one. The academy’s current president, Cheryl Boone Issacs, is the first black woman to be chosen for the position and has spoken publicly about the situation.

These four movies are all directed towards two audiences and that is the main problem. Why does it have to be this way?
These four movies are all directed towards two audiences and that is the main problem. Why does it have to be this way?

“This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes,” Issacs said. She has offered promises of reviewing the recruitment efforts of the academy. This will be the second year that the top five categories: Best Picture, Best Actor/Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Director are only made up of white nominees.

Successful movies with minority actors — such as Straight Outta Compton and Creed — were thrown under the rug. ‘Compton’ did outrageous numbers in the box office and trended worldwide but the cast were still jipped from any nominations and did not even receive an invitation to the awards. However, the writers, Jon Herman and Andrea Berloff, were acknowledged and nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Likewise, Creed, with Michael B. Jordan as the lead role, was not nominated for anything but his co-star, Sylvester Stallone, was picked for Best Supporting Actor. Does this not raise any eyebrows?

Celebrities like Snoop Dogg, director Spike Lee and academy member Michael Moore are planning to boycott the awards by not attending to create awareness for the cause. Actress Jada Pinkett Smith posted a video on her personal Facebook, where she voiced her opinions on the lack of diversity in the nominees. Smith brings up her plans about creating developmental programs to help prepare and boost acknowledgment for minorities.

“The Academy has the right to acknowledge whomever they choose, to invite whomever they choose and now I think that it’s our responsibility, now, to make the change,” Smith said. At the end of the video, Smith revealed that she will not be in attendance. Backlash towards Smith included the assumption that she was only concerned due to her husband, Will Smith, being neglected for his excellent role in Concussion.

It is obvious that we will not see change happen overnight or even at the next Academy Awards, but there are many solutions up for trial. The issue goes deeper than the academy; the screenwriters and/or cast managers also play a huge part in the situation. Are there not any roles being written for minorities? Why? Is the casting being influenced by skin color? Writers and other creative directors should create stories that are gender and race neutral. Hollywood has always been seen as a place that represents everyone of our culture. Our generation should start to take control and make progress to give everyone of every color, ethnicity and/or gender the right amount of acknowledgement and respect.

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