The list of Oscar nominees was unveiled last week and, as usual, it is pure white.
When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations, not a single person of color had made the acting list — and before long, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite once again began trending on social media, just as it did last year in the same situation.
One of the biggest African-American-led movies of the year, Straight Outta Compton, received only one nomination and that only for the best original screenplay created by a white writer.
Jada Pinkett Smith, whose husband Will Smith was overlooked for his dramatic portrayal of Dr. Bennet Omalu in Concussion, expressed her disappointment in a series of tweet and raised the question of a boycott.
At the Oscars...people of color are always welcomed to give out awards...even entertain, (pt. 1)— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 16, 2016
But we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of color refrain from participating all together? (pt 2)— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 16, 2016
People can only treat us in the way in which we allow. With much respect in the midst of deep disappointment. J (pt 3)— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 16, 2016
"Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people, and we are powerful," Pinkett Smith added. "So let's let the Academy do them, with all grace and love. And let's do us, differently."
This year’s Oscar host, Chris Rock, also noted the lack of diversity and posted his complaint with a promo clip, in a not-so-subtle dig on Twitter.
Academy-Award nominated director Spike Lee announced on Instagram on Monday that he would be boycotting the Oscars.
"How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White?" Lee wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. in a graduation cap and gown.
Lee accompanied his announcement with King's quote: "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."
#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)
The #OscarSoWhite controversy first emerged in 2015, when many critics slammed the Academy for failing to nominate Ava Du Vernay and David Oyelowo, the director and lead actor, respectively, in Selma.
This year repeated the same pattern when categories for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress all went to white performers.
Al Sharpton, an American civil rights activist, Baptist minister and television/radio talk show host, also slammed the film industry for its false image of progressive policies.
Hollywood has a fraudulent image of progressive and liberal politics and policies. We must take direct action to correct this. Talk is cheap— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) January 14, 2016
All white Oscar nominations are another example of the lack of diversity in Hollywood. Like the Rocky Mts. The higher u climb the whiter.— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) January 14, 2016
“Being left out of awards consideration is about more than just recognition for a job well done; winning an Oscar has long-lasting cultural and economic impacts,” he added.
In the wake of last year’s controversy, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs attempted to diversify the organization’s membership by inviting more than 322 new members of varying races, ethnicities and genders. She also announced an initiative called “A2020”, a project that would aid the academy in hiring, mentoring, encouraging and promoting talents in diverse areas of the film industry.
Despite her efforts, the academy still failed to recognize black actors this year.