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White Oscars: Not Okay

February 22, 2016

On February 28th, the Oscars arrive. But for the second year in a row, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated only white actors/films in the industry’s top categories; exposing a shocking lack of respect for our diverse culture. As a writer, not an actor, should I care about the Oscars and the recent movie scandal?

Yes. Everyone should.

The Academy’s predominately white, male board members may not have consciously or purposely shut out diverse movies, but that’s no excuse. Honoring all people, matters.

Why?

  • Everyone deserves to be heard, and everyone has a story. Enough said.
  • Our country has changed. The white majority is in decline, and yet, they still command the wealth, privilege, and power in our society. Until all individuals are recognized for their accomplishments, a distorted and unfair balance hangs like ugly air. Not only is it important to learn from a film’s content, but also, it’s crucial to have a diverse balance of leaders running the show.
  • Education is key to our country’s health and well-being. Diversity (including, but not limited to; race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, age, sexual preference, and gender) should be recognized and reflected in all realms of our society. By watching stories on the screen, we can learn about historical and societal events, highlighting a variety of subjects. In Straight Out of Compton (unfortunately, NOT nominated for best picture) the audience learns one reason artists rap about police brutality, exposing an important and timely issue. While watching the movie, I felt extreme empathy for African Americans who continue to be unjustly targeted in police brutality. Empathy (via education) is a key ingredient to change.
  • People need positive role models. If there aren’t any in film, literature, business, or in our leadership, how can there be growth? In the book/film, The Danish Girl (unfortunately, NOT nominated for best picture), the main character’s confusion about his gender identity almost leads him to suicide. However, once he finds the courage and support he needs to come forward as a woman; he discovers himself, paving a way for others struggling with gender identity and acting as a progressive role model.
  • Diversity can act as an avenue to discover common ground. People suffer. People triumph. People cry, and people laugh. It’s simple; human emotion does not discriminate.

A diverse culture creates a strong economy. I come from a long line of farmers, and my female ancestors contributed to the economy by raising children, preparing meals, cleaning clothes, and running the household. They created the foundation for stay-at home-moms. However, as our country expanded beyond an agricultural workforce, and thanks to people like Gloria Steinem, women expanded their talents and skills. Girls can now become whomever they chose to be: a pilot, a plumber, a CEO, or a carpenter, thus creating a more sophisticated and healthy economy.

Shame on the Academy for not recognizing and respecting our culture’s rich diversity. For our country to move forward in a healthy, successful manner, we need all walks of life to be honored in film, books, businesses, and in our government—diversity should be respected and represented in all realms.

 

 

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