News of the 2016 Oscar nominees sparked continued conversations about the lack of diversity.
For the second year, #OscarsSoWhite became a trending hashtag as celebrities and others of different backgrounds expressed disappointment after a number of hopefuls were not nominated this year.
No black actors from critically praised and box office successes “Creed” or “Straight Outta Compton” were nominated.
This year, director Spike Lee and actress and director Jada Pinkett Smith are boycotting the Academy Awards, according to CNN.
Lee made a statement in an instagram post, while acknowledging black members of the Academy.
“I would like to thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for awarding me an honorary Oscar (in) November. I am most appreciative. However, my wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee, and I will not be attending the Sscar ceremony this February. We cannot support it and mean no disrespect to my friends, host Chris Rock and producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs and the Academy. But how is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white? And let's not even get into the other branches. Forty white actors in two years, and no flava at all.
“It's no coincidence I'm writing this as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Martin Luther King (day),” Lee said. “For too many years when the Oscars nominations are revealed, my office phone rings off the hook with the media asking me my opinion about the lack of African-Americans, and this year was no different. For once, I would like the media to ask all the white nominees and studio heads how they feel about another all white ballot. If someone has addressed this, and I missed it, then I stand mistaken.”
“As I see it, the Academy Awards is not where the "real" battle is. It's in the executive office of the Hollywood studios and TV and cable networks. This is where the gatekeepers decide what gets made and what gets jettisoned to 'turnaround' or scrap heap. This is what's important. Those with 'the green light' vote.”
Jada Pinkett Smith, whose husband Will Smith was considered for his role in "Concussion" but wasn’t nominated, suggested putting community resources into making new programs that acknowledge industry achievements.
In a video posted to her Facebook page, Smith said, "Today is Martin Luther King's birthday, and I can't help but ask the question: Is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence, that we have amassed, that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere?
“Maybe it’s time that we recognize that if we love, respect, and acknowledge ourselves in the same way that we are asking others to do. The Academy has the right to acknowledge whomever they choose. To invite whomever they choose,” she said.
“Maybe it is time that we pull back our resources, and we put them back into our communities, into our programs, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit that are just as good as the so called mainstream ones.
"Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people, and we are powerful, and let’s not forget it. So let's let the Academy do them, with all grace and love. And let's do us, differently."
Smith then left a message to this year’s host Chris Rock.
“I won’t be at the awards this year, and I won’t be watching, but I can’t think of a better man to the job this year than you, my friend, to do it. So good luck.”
Watch Pinkett Smith’s video below.
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