For the second year in a row, ZERO of the 20 acting nominees are people of color. Since the Oscar nominations were announced last week, I have had many conversations with my white friends and have read the opinion pieces some of my white friends have posted on their Facebook page about this issue. It saddens me to no end to read about how so many people think that this ISN’T an issue. It definitely IS an issue, and to see people of color getting attacked for speaking up about it is disheartening and disappointing. No matter how you feel about the voting system, or Jada Pinkett Smith, or Spike Lee, or the award ceremony itself, I think everyone can agree that, once again, a bright light is shining on the growing racial divide in this country, and what saddens me even more is that some of my white friends continue to act as if things like this are no big deal.
When the Oscar nominations were announced, many in the non-white community expressed outrage about the lack of nominated minorities. When the non-white community expressed their outrage, some in the white community responded with, “What’s the big deal?” THAT is what is frustrating on so many levels for people like me, especially when comments like that are coming from friends on Facebook.
I just don’t understand why minorities always have to “justify our feelings” when we feel wronged. For some reason, people just refuse to accept that there is a major issue at hand hand and we HAVE to talk about it.
There were 20 slots open for the performance categories at the Oscars. And you’re telling me that not a single non-white artist was capable of getting nominated? Out of all of the fantastic performances this year, ZERO warranted a nomination? My brain just can’t grasp this concept.
While this issue isn’t life or death for Americans, the conversation and apparent disagreement between its importance between whites and people of color is a major issue. Maybe the nominations themselves may not be a big deal to some, but the things I have been reading from my white colleagues have been a real eye opener when it comes to how they feel about people of color in general and our culture and the way we choose to voice our outrage.
When I was talking about this with a friend over the weekend, they said, “You sound like you hate white people.” I really don’t. But I do truly believe that white privilege exists, and I do believe that some of my white friends do not realize that some of the things that they say when speaking on subjects such as this is hurtful, especially when they downplay what it means to someone like me.
I’ll leave you with these words from the amazing actor, David Oyelowo.
“For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of color, actresses of color, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable. The reason why the Oscars are so important is because it is the zenith, it is the epitome, it is the height of celebration of artistic endeavor within the filmmaking community. We grow up aspiring, dreaming, longing to be accepted into that august establishment because it is the height of excellence. I would like to walk away and say it doesn’t matter, but it does, because that acknowledgement changes the trajectory of your life, your career, and the culture of the world we live in.”