Oscars disregard diversity

The 87th Annual Academy Awards were held Sunday and once again, were dominated by whites in all categories.

It is no question that people of color are severely underrepresented at the Oscars.

Even host Neil Patrick Harris made an opening joke about the whiteness at the Oscars by stating, “Tonight we celebrate Hollywood’s best and whitest, sorry…brightest.”

Every single actor or actress nominated was white, for first time in 19 years.

With so much preference toward white nominees, it would be easy to assume that they are selected by a room full of old white men. That assumption would be correct. The 6,028 members of the academy who vote to nominate Oscar winners are 94 percent white, 77 percent men and 86 percent over the age of 50. It doesn’t take a scholar to figure out the connection between the race of the academy and the race of the nominees.

Only five movies nominated this year had directors of color, including Mexican moviemaker Alejandro González Iñárritu, who won best director for “Birdman.”

“Birdman” swept the Oscars with the addition of winning best picture and best original screenplay.

Despite the win for best picture, the trophy was accompanied by an offensive remark by Sean Penn.

“Who gave this son of a bitch a green card,” Penn said.

The remark belittled the celebration, since it insulted not only González Iñárritu, but also millions of immigrants. Penn reinforced the problem of racial representation at the Oscars by insulting one of the only non-white winners.

González Iñárritu handled the blow with grace and dedicated his best picture speech to his fellow Mexicans, proudly saying, “I pray that we can build the government we deserve; and the ones living in this country, I pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.”

His speech hit home with many viewers on Twitter, with #GonzalezInarritu and #OscarALaMexicana trending online.

Remarkably, González Iñárritu is the second Latino to win best director. The first was just last year, “Gravity‘s” Alfonso Cuarón, a longtime friend and collaborator of González Iñárritu.

His win was a small victory for Latinos, but blacks lacked major representation this year, with high expectations for “Selma.” “Selma” director Ava DuVernay was overlooked for best director, despite receiving a Golden Globe nomination, and actor David Oyelowo did not receive a best actor nomination for playing Martin Luther King Jr., a major role worthy of an award.

With the Oscars running for almost 90 years, it is incredibly ridiculous to still have such a lack of diversity in the nominees and members of the academy. It is time to take the problem of racial underrepresentation seriously instead of using the issue as a punch line.

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