Lack of racial diversity in Oscars proves to be a recurring problem

Karen Wang, Opinions Editor

In the wake of Oscar nominee announcements on Jan. 14, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite is making a return.

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, holds some of the most coveted awards to exist within the film industry. Each year, even being nominated is an honor. This year, the widely anticipated nominations were led by films such as the “The Revenant”, “The Martian”, “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Spotlight”. Though each one is a masterpiece in its own right, the noticeable absence of minority-focused films and minorities in general has sparked fury for the second year in a row.

A major point of interest Internet users are quick to point out is that each nominee in the acting and directing categories are White, snubbing movies such as “Straight Outta Compton” and “Beasts of No Nation”. Many film fanatics were shocked that no one from either cast received a nod for their work. Furthermore, the lack of acknowledgment for Michael B. Jordan’s widely praised performance in “Creed” and Samuel L. Jackson’s in “The Hateful Eight” infuriated individuals.

The Academy was criticized last year for omitting people of color from its nominations. Dubbed the “whitest Oscars since 1998”, its lack of recognition for “Selma’s” actors and the director Ava DuVernay were widely regarded as unfair. This is what initially sparked the popular hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite. Many influential individuals weighed in.

Lance Gould tweeted, “#OscarsSoWhite that if they made a movie about it to ease their guilt, it would STILL star & be directed/produced by white people”.

With all the outrage, it was a public hope that we would see more diversity in the nominations this year.

However, April Reign, the editor credited for the creation of the hashtag, believes that the condition has worsened.

“It’s actually worse than last year. Best Documentary and Best Original Screenplay. That’s it. #OscarsSoWhite,” she tweeted.

Unfortunately, this seems to be an industry norm. When asked about the topic on “The Wendy Williams Show”, Ice Cube from “Compton” stated, “You know, I’m not surprised. It’s the Oscars; they do what they do.”

Snubbing people of color from the Oscars plays a considerable role in the industry. Because it is often said to be the most coveted industry award, denying people of color recognition fails to thank them for their work. It also further marginalizes them in an industry that already washes over them and makes increasing racial diversity in Hollywood difficult to achieve.

It’s difficult to think of a big Oscar film about Black lives that isn’t “The Help” or “12 Years a Slave”. Because of that, it seems that American perceptions of certain races are still stuck in historical wrongdoings that have been committed. It’s time to move on. The last time an actor of Asian descent was nominated for Best Actor was Ben Kingsley in 2003. The last time an actress of Asian descent was nominated for Best Actress was Merle Oberon in 1935.

To examine the racial diversity of the Oscars, one needs to look at the demographic of the Academy. They are 94 percent White, 76 percent male, and the average age is 63 years old. These are disappointing facts to hear in 2016. As a society that prides itself on being inclusive and progressive, a quick look at the leaders in one of our most influential industries tells us otherwise.

Academy director Cheryl Isaac Boones also voiced her frustration saying, “Of course I am disappointed, but this is not to take away from the greatness [of the films nominated].”

It’s disappointing to see this resurface once again. Hopefully, #OscarsSoWhite won’t live to see its third birthday.