This February, Chris Rock will host the Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars. First airing in 1927, the Academy Awards has awarded actors, writers, directors, and musicians for their outstanding work in their respective areas. 88 years later, the Oscars is now deemed the highest honor for an actor to receive in Hollywood. It is now 2016, and out of 88 years, only 16 years have seen African Americans walk away with an Oscars in-hand. We noticed last year that every nominee for every category was white, and there was an uproar, birthing the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. There was a buzz to boycott the Oscars, but the buzz came and went. A year later and the Oscars are still white. Fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice, shame on us. Since the release of the nominations for the Oscars, the uproar is back and we ain't playing this year. Both Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee have said they will not be attending the Academy Awards. But other actors have other things to say.
In a Facebook video released earlier this week, Jada Pinkett-Smith asks "Is it time that people of color recognize how much power and influence that we have amassed that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere? Have we not come to a new time and place where we recognize that we can no longer beg for the love, acknowledgement or respect of any group? Maybe its time that we recognized that if we love and respect and acknowledge ourselves in the way which we are asking others to do, that that is the place of true power." I think it's absolutely possible and should happen as soon as possible. We are just as excellent in every form of artistry as those nominated by the Academy if not more. So a Black Academy Awards doesn't sound far-fetched to me. We are aware that racism is very much alive in the country. It's evident in our justice system, education system, housing systems and the media is not exempt. The Academy is composed of over 6000 people with 93% of them being white. Only 2% of the entire Academy is African American. It's no wonder the only African-Americans who do win Oscars win for their acting performances are their portrayals of maids, butlers, and crooked cops. It's 2016. We don't have to wait for them to tell us what we already know..
In response to Jada Pinkett-Smith, Janet Hubert (you might remember her as the dark-skinned Aunt Vivian in The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air) released a Facebook video with very strong opposing views stating "I find it ironic that somebody who has made their living and has made millions and millions of dollars from the very people that you're talking about boycotting just because you didn't get a nomination, just because you didn't win? That's not the way life works baby." She also goes in to ask if her husband does not have his own mouth to voice his opinion on the matter. She brought up an incident from 26 years ago where she asked for a raise to be paid as much the "white shows". She said Will Smith didn't deserve the Golden Globe nomination. She said people got bills to pay. In my opinion, she said a whole lot of nothing. She found a time for her to chime in on a situation and she wasted it by bringing up old business between her and an ex-business colleague. Very messy. First things first, I highly doubt Will Smith needs anyone to speak up for him. Jada Pinkett-Smith has quite the following on Facebook and is known for being very vocal in the times of public outcry. For Janet to say that Jada is speaking for her husband implies that Will is weak and Jada is some sort of pawn. There is no moral benefit in putting other people down. Yes, the Smiths have made millions, and they are using their status to ignite something in their fellow "blacktors and blacktresses" to give them the power they rightfully deserve. What did Janet do besides make me feel uncomfortable? Janet was super wack for this.
On a serious note, I am not saying that we need to win every award. I am not saying every movie that had an black actor should have been nominated. But we did create some amazing work in the past year that deserved acknowledgement. I'm still not over the fact that David Oyelowo's performance in Selma as Martin Luther King Jr. wasn't nominated for an Oscar when that entire movie was GOLD! I personally will not be watching the Oscars for the simple fact that there is no one I want to see win....Okay I'm lying. I really want Leonardo DiCaprio to win something. We tune into these things to see our favorite best-of-the-bests win. That includes Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, Micheal B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson in Creed, and Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton. I can't support a production that tells me my people don't live up to those credentials.
I really hope Leonardo wins something though, its overdue!
Thanks for reading!