There’s been a CRAZY amount of conversation about Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee’s decision to boycott the Oscars due to the lack or recognition of people of color in Hollywood. I support their decision and give them props for standing firm on something they obviously feel strongly about. Strangely, I haven’t seen many people with the same mindset, Black or White. There are several arguments floating around but I thought I’d discuss the three that stand out most to me.
The first is one I’ve seen from a lot of different people that basically says there’s more important and far worse things going on (stating the obvious much?), so who cares about an award ceremony? Stop boycotting and protest something legit. No one said that we should all focus on the Oscars and stop caring about world hunger. It reminds of BLM and how some people say life is far harder for other people around the world so Blacks in America should quit complaining. One injustice cannot devalue another. It may be the understatement of the year but, this is an imperfect world. Its imperfect and too often unjust for MANY reasons. Are we only supposed to focus on a few of them? Jada and Spike Lee are a part of the entertainment field. This is THEIR industry so they should be the ones to spark that change. Who is going to fight for equal representation if not people like them? We all should work within our own personal communities and circles to make changes for the better. It starts with small steps in small spaces and gradually the whole is improved. To me thats just common sense.
The next attack actually comes from Black people who say something to the effect of, “Stop whining about what White people won’t give you and create your own awards with your own standards!”….So, for anyone who may not get what they mean, this is basically how in the Black community we create things that caters to our culture and community and its nothing new. Think of Soul Train Awards, BET, all Black casts, HBCU’s. All of these are examples of things that were created for the Black community because something was lacking. Now, I will admit that this is a very good point. We could make our own awards….BUT, bear with me here, something about that feels backwards to me, especially at a time where racial tensions seem to be rising in this country. Do we really want to divide ourselves more? Is that a step backwards in the wrong direction? There was certainly a need for us to create our own schools, films, shows and groups and in no way am I saying to do away with all of that. Im just asking the question, In 2016, do we really need our own Oscars too? To me the best outcome wouldn’t be to have a predominantly White Oscars and a predominantly Black Oscars. There should simply be one show that doesn’t exclude some but includes all. However, I’m sure that’s a long time off and there are many factors involved…It has to start somewhere.
Lastly, I’ve heard comments like,”Who cares!? They’re still actors, they’re still famous and an award doesn’t always depict talent.”… Also true. However, to me the overall point of #OscarsSoWhite is that we need more representation of people of color and not just at award shows. Of all the films watched that contribute to these nominations, how many Black actors were cast in comparison to White actors? Take it a step further, How many Asian? Native American? The obvious issue is not just nominations, but there aren’t as many actors of color to choose from because there aren’t that many actors of color in Hollywood period. That’s how I see the fundamental problem. It’s a lot harder to nominate Black actors/actresses if they just aren’t in these films. I don’t condemn Jada or Spike Lee for their actions but there is definitely room for them and others to do more. Go after the studios who make the films as well, and as the general public we could take a stand by avoiding the theaters when diversity is lacking in popular films. There is a great deal of power in the American dollar. There needs to be a collective effort by actors, viewers, and ticket buyers to force a real change.