An Oscars boycott is in order following the announcement of only white nominees for major categories, according to reports from CNN and others. That’s the decision of Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee. The Oscars will air on February 28. This is the second consecutive year in which all nominees for major categories are white.
Lee wrote on Instagram, “We cannot support it and [I] mean no disrespect… But, how is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders under the acting category are white? And let’s not even get into the other branches. Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all. We can’t act?!”
Lee also cited the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., in his announcement that he would boycott the Oscars.
Lee stated the following on Instagram.
“There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It’s Right”.
His Oscars boycott, he says in his announcement, is related to a concern he specifically has with executive offices of Hollywood studios and TV and cable networks. As he also notes in his Instagram post that the Academy did award him an honorary Oscar last year.
#OscarsSoWhite… Again. 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 This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming 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 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? And Let's Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can't Act?! WTF!! It's No Coincidence I'm Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday. Dr. King Said "There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It's Right". 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, (Maybe) 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 Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To "Turnaround" Or Scrap Heap. This Is What's Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With "The Green Light" Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, "I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS". People, The Truth Is We Ain't In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White. (Cont'd)
As for her Oscars boycott decision, Jada Pinkett-Smith posted a video to Facebook yesterday in which she poses this 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 and respect and acknowledge ourselves in the way in which we are asking others to do, that that is the place of true power.”
She continued, “Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people and we are powerful,” she said. “Let’s do us, differently.”
Related to the Oscars boycott of these two prominent Hollywood figures, Al Sharpton has also expressed his anger with the Academy, according to reports from the Huffington Post. His statements reflect a belief that the absence of non-whites among the major category nominees for two years in a row represents a lack of power among blacks in Hollywood and is a missed opportunity to impact our culture and economy.
All 20 acting nominees are white this year, and in the films that include non-white cast members, only the white ones are nominated, with the exception of Alejandro González Iñárritu, who has been nominated for Best Director for The Revenant.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs responded to the news of the Oscars boycotts on Thursday. She stated that the lack of non-white nominations in no way diminishes the greatness of the films represented by those who were nominated. She added, however, that the Academy’s movement on diversity in their nominations is too slow.
Last year, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite became popular and was used on social media by those wishing to express their dismay at and disappointment in the lack of non-white nominees. It has begun appearing already this year as well.
Some notable oversights in this year’s nominations include Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation (Netflix campaigned hard for this deserved nomination), Will Smith in what many are calling the best performance of his life in Concussion, Michael B. Jordan who just won the National Society of Film Critics’ award for Best Actor in Creed, and Creed director Ryan Coogler. Sylvester Stallone did receive a nomination for his supporting actor role in Creed.
Chris Rock will host the Oscars for the second consecutive year when they air on February 28.
[Photos by Mike Coppola and Jason Merritt/Getty Images]