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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion


Photo credit: Helen Suh

Within the 88 years that the Oscars has been around, the number of black actors and actresses nominated for awards is hardly noticeable. These last two years there were no black actors or actresses nominated for any acting award. Two years. Two years with all white nominees for acting categories.

Now maybe it’s just coincidence.

Maybe those who deserved an award were nominated.

Maybe the black community doesn’t have enough actors to even be considered.

But then isn’t that an issue as well?

Many actors have felt the need to speak up. Will Smith had decided to boycott the awards this year because of the total lack of diversity. Others quickly followed in his footsteps. It may sound a bit dramatic but I don’t believe he’s being petty over an award. He wants to make a point. Plus, when did anything ever change except for when drastic measures were taken?

Jada Pinkett Smith was one of the first to make a statement. “Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power,” she said in a video post to her Facebook page.

I completely agree. This should not be an issue. Black actors and actresses should not have to boycott the awards in order to be noticed. It’s bigger than an award. It’s an ongoing issue of inclusion and diversity. Someone has to be blamed to get the ball rolling.

It’s no secret that people of color have experienced oppression and prejudice throughout our country’s time. We were a country built off of slavery. Although we have come a long way since then, these issues obviously still exist.

In response to these kinds of actions, the Academy Awards have attempted to fix the problem by adding more people of color into their voting body. They acted quickly, as they should have. We’ll see in the following years whether anything really changes.

The real question that has been put up at this point is whether to keep these things that separate us. Some people argue that BET should not exist. Actress Stacey Dash thinks that we need to get rid of channels like BET Awards and the NAACP Image Awards. Now while I understand where she is coming from, I don’t agree.

These awards were only created because the black community knew they were not being represented well. Don’t be surprised when an oppressed community creates something to celebrate their own accomplishments.

I get it. We need to integrate ourselves.

Maybe one day channels like BET will no longer exist, but that surely won’t happen when the Oscars seem purely white.

Gema Diaz can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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