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The Buchtelite

The all-white Oscar ballot

By Brooke Griffin, Student Writer

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African-American actors and actresses have been snubbed year after year when it comes to the Oscars. This year was no different, when an all-white ballot was announced for the second year in a row.

Actors including Will Smith, Michael B. Jordan, and Idris Elba are a few of the African-American actors who were snubbed. Several celebrities took to social media calling out the president of the Oscars, who is an African-American woman.

The #OSCARSSOWHITE stormed the internet in the weeks to come, urging for more diversity from the organization. Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith wasted no time to address her husband’s snub.

“At the Oscars…people of color are always welcomed to give out awards…even entertain, but we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of color refrain from participating altogether? People can only treat us in the way in which we allow,” Jada Smith said. This statement caused even more uproar from other celebrity actors and actresses – one being Will Smith’s colleague-turned-enemy Janet Hubert.

Hubert, who is famous for her role as Aunt Viv on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,”  took less than a day to address what’s more important.

“People are dying. Our boys are being shot left and right. People are starving. People are trying to pay bills. And you’re talking about some…actors and Oscars. It just ain’t that deep,” wrote the actress.

After hearing both views, I’m still torn between who I want to agree with more. On Smith’s defense I have to agree; in order to be treated the way you want to be treated you have to stand up for yourself. When asked to come to the Oscars, one can say no to the invitation.

But what does that do to actors’ and actresses’ careers in an industry where you are part of the minority? Will you be looked at as a “sore loser” for not coming to what is the grand event of the industry you represent? Or should you grin and bear it, waiting for a moment you know may never come?

Then there’s Hubert’s viewpoint, and he is right. African-American boys are being killed left and right. Paying bills and wondering what you will have to eat the next day are real issues in the world, issues that won’t go away when the last award is presented on Sunday.

There are 6,000 voting members for the Oscars. Of those members 94 percent are white and 76 percent are men. The average age of the members for the Oscars is 63 years old. If those numbers weren’t something to grab my attention, Oscar nominations did the trick.

Since its start in 1929, only 20 African-American men have been nominated for Best Actor in Leading Role. Of those, only four have won the award.

Since 1929, African-American women have been nominated only ten times for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Of those, only one award was given out: Halle Berry received the award in 2002 for her role in “Monster Ball.” In her acceptance speech Berry said, “It’s for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox. And it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.” Since that time only three more African-American women have been nominated.

In my opinion, great art, whether it comes from an African-American or from someone else, should be honored when deserved. Great art shouldn’t be influenced by skin color. Great art should be great, not black or white.   

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